Cross-border workers from France will have a wider choice of crossings to the Swiss side of Lake Geneva thanks to an agreement between the two countries to share subsidy costs.
The new 500-seater vessel will double the current frequency of lake crossings between Evian on the French side and the Swiss city of Lausanne. It is estimated to cost CHF15 million ($15.2 million).
It took authorities from canton Vaud and their French counterparts five years to agree on a subsidy cost-sharing formula. Both parties signed an agreement on Thursday to finance in equal parts the crossings between Thonon and Evian in France, and Lausanne, as well as between Nyon and the French town of Yvoire. Only once this memorandum of understanding was signed could the purchase of the new boat go ahead.
The new boat will cruise at a speed of 30km/h, slightly faster than the current operating speeds of 25km/h. The cost for acquiring the vessel will be borne by the Swiss ferry service operator Compagnie générale de navigation (CGN) and backed by a federal loan guarantee. This is the first new craft the company will invest in since 1990.
In 2017, 1.8 million passengers used the three cross-border ferry services on Lake Geneva, an increase of 30% over five years. The idea of an even larger vessel was abandoned as authorities on the Swiss side felt the metro services of Lausanne city could not absorb more commuter traffic.