The first speedboat of Switzerland's planned national exhibition, Expo 02, has touched down on the waters of the Ziehl channel between Lake Neuchatel and Lake Murten.
The Iris catamaran was scheduled to make its debut journey from Thielle-Wavre on Lake Neuchatel to the port of Nid-du-Crô, where another, smaller catamaran, is soon expected to join it. However, the journey was postponed until Tuesday because of poor weather conditions.
The first test-drives for the two ships are due to take place at the end of August.
A total of six Iris catamarans will be in operation during Expo 02, for use on the lakes of Neuchatel, Biel and Murten. The delivery of the four remaining vessels is expected before March next year.
Two large ships will have an on-board capacity of 400 passengers, and will circulate between Neuchatel and Yverdon-les-Bains.
Four smaller boats, each capable of carrying 200 passengers, will travel between Neuchatel, Biel and Murten.
The national exhibition has paid out a total of SFr15 million to rent the catamarans from Iris Catamarans, a French company based in La Rochelle. Expo 02 has also budgeted a further SFr3 million for transport, montage and dismantling costs.
The catamarans will integrate an already existing network of shuttle ships on the three lakes.
The journey between Neuchatel and Yverdon-les-Bains will last 40 minutes, whereas the trips from Neuchatel to Biel and Morat will last 80 and 65 minutes respectively.
Expo 02 will last from May 15 to October 20 next year.
swissinfo with agencies