Euro 2008 football championships fans are to be able to use their tickets to travel free on public transport in Switzerland and Austria for up to 36 hours.This content was published on May 31, 2007 - 16:14
The initiative, announced on Thursday, is part of an SFr8-million ($6.5 million) plan by the Swiss authorities and tournament organisers to encourage more people to use public transport during the competition.
"The idea is to try to manage the enormous amount of traffic generated by Euro 2008, while respecting the environment as much as possible," explained Benedikt Weibel, the Swiss government's delegate for Euro 2008. The tournament is being jointly hosted with Austria.
Up to 5.4 million people are expected to travel to watch games at the four main stadiums and on big screens in Switzerland during the three-week tournament.
To try to tackle the potentially huge numbers of road users, officials have set ambitious targets. They hope that public transport will be able to handle up to 80 per cent of all short-distance journeys and 60 per cent of long-distance trips.
The Swiss Federal Railways have announced a plan for at least 400 additional trains and 500 drivers during the championships.
"Those without a match ticket will also be able to enjoy special rail offers," explained Andreas Meyer, head of the Federal Railways.
Visitors will be able to buy a rail pass for the month of June enabling them to use public transport throughout Switzerland and travel half-price in Austria.
Organisers said special night trains would also be organised to take football fans home after each match.
But to be able to get a better idea of the exact number of football fans travelling in Switzerland during June next year, the organisers are waiting for the draw in Lucerne on December 2 to see who plays whom and where, explained Weibel.
In related news, Sion, Biel, Solothurn, Lugano, Locarno and Kreuzlingen on Thursday became the first Swiss cities to be officially selected to host a Euro 2008 big screen and public viewing area to allow fans without tickets to follow the games and enjoy the party atmosphere.
In all, 38 towns and cities across the country are competing to become one of the 17 official big screen arenas. Each site will be able to attract up to 11,000 fans.
Geneva, Basel, Zurich and Bern, which will be hosting Euro 2008 matches, will also be organising their own big screen sites during the tournaments, financed by Uefa.
swissinfo with agencies
15 of the 31 Euro 2008 matches will be played in Switzerland and 16 in Austria.
Switzerland will play the opening match of the tournament at Basel's St Jakob's Park on June 7, 2008.
The final will be in Vienna on June 29.
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