Ceremonies marked the launch of the Swiss Federal Railways’ new national timetable in central Switzerland, just hours before it became effective.This content was published on December 12, 2004 - 10:25
Cantons Glarus, Lucerne and Zug are among the first to benefit from the massive Rail 2000 programme revamping of the railways’ operations.
Swiss president Joseph Deiss inaugurated the new Glarus Sprinter with the head of the federal railways, Benedikt Weibel on Saturday. The new express train will link the canton with Zurich.
Glarus is the last cantonal capital to benefit from a high-speed connection to the rest of the country, a hurdle the local authorities have been trying to overcome for years.
“I have rarely seen a cantonal government that has pushed so hard for a railway connection,” said Weibel. According to the Glarus government, the new link is supposed to make the canton more attractive for potential residents and businesses.
The railways have also upgraded their services around Lucerne and Zug. Regional trains are to run more frequently, putting the suburbs and areas lying further away within easier reach.
Nine stations have also been built in the Zug area, while four more have been put into service in and around Lucerne.
The new timetable becomes effective Sunday morning at 3 a.m., with the first train leaving Bern just over an hour later. It will see faster and more frequent services across an expanded network.
Hundreds of railway employees are standing by to deal with any problems that may crop up.
Passengers will also be under pressure since 90 per cent of train departure times will change, requiring them to read the new timetable carefully.
The biggest improvement though is a new 45-kilometre stretch running from Mattstetten north of the capital, Bern, to Rothrist near Olten. This major project, part of the Rail 2000 programme, will have a significant impact on shortening journey times across the country.
Rail 2000 is intended to attract new customers in Switzerland to public transport. The aim of the plan has been to make trains more frequent, faster, more direct and more comfortable.
swissinfo with agencies
From December 12, there will be 12% more trains running on the rail network.
Travelling times on more than half long-distance journeys will be reduced by at least five minutes.
35% of these journeys will have their running times reduced by at least 15 minutes.
Total investment in Rail 2000 amounts to SFr5.9 billion ($4.93 billion).
Swiss transport policy aims to transfer freight traffic off the roads and motorways onto the railways.
Apart from the construction of two new Alpine base tunnels, a package of improvement includes connection to the European high-speed network and the Rail 2000 concept.
Public transport companies in Switzerland move about 1.7 billion people annually.
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