The new Léman Express cross-border rail network is set to revolutionise transport between Switzerland and France, declared Swiss Transport Minister Simonetta Sommaruga at an inauguration ceremony on Thursday.
Three days ahead of its official public opening, officials from the two countries gathered at Coppet, in canton Vaud, north of Geneva, at La Roche-Sur-Foron, in France, and at Eaux-Vives in Geneva to cut the ribbons and celebrate the completion of the long-awaited regional rail network.
“Léman Express will revolutionise the mobility habits of residents in the entire region and change the face of Geneva,” said Sommaruga on Thursday.
When it officially opens to the public at 5.05am on December 15, the network will offer a fast cross-city rail link between Geneva’s central train station, Cornavin, and Annemasse in Franceexternal link, and extend into canton Vaud in Switzerland and the Haute-Savoie and Ain regions in France. In all, it will comprise 45 stations and 230 kilometres of track and will become the biggest cross-border regional rail network in Europe.
Once fully operational, officials estimate that 50,000 people will take one of the 40 Léman Express trains criss-crossing the network every day. They say the new rail network should help cut road traffic and commuting times. Currently, almost half a million vehicles cross Geneva’s borders from France and canton Vaud every day, snarling up local roads in rush hour.
In her speech, Sommaruga praised the close cooperation with France that helped finalise the complex project, which has involved decades of discussions, planning and appeals, and almost eight years of construction work.
She said such cooperation should be stepped up and indicated that there is a willingness to create a single bi-national entity to finance and further develop the offer. Swiss Federal Railways and the French national rail company SNCF are looking at uniting their expertise to develop the network, said the minister.