The Swiss government is considering the development of an underground transport system and has launched a proposal to see whether there is a legal basis for the project.
A private project, launched six years ago by the CST companyexternal link, foresees building a tunnel with three tubes between main logistics centres to transport goods with an digital underground cargo rail system.
The government’s proposal, announced by the transport ministry on Wednesday, will analyse whether there is support from political parties and the business community for a bill on creating such an underground system.
The 500km (310-mile) network would cost about CHF30 billion ($30 billion) and would link Geneva in western Switzerland with the eastern town of St Gallen. The network would include the cities of Zurich, Basel, Lucerne and Thun and would be be operational around the clock by 2050.
A first stretch around Zurich would be built over the next decade.
This animation shows how the project would work:
Among the main shareholders of the CST company are leading retailers, insurance and construction companies, as well as the state-owned Swiss Post and Swisscom.
The government says it will decide the next steps following a three-month consultation procedure among political parties, institutions and organisations.
Last September, the government decided in principle to examine the possibility of creating the necessary law for such an underground cargo system.