Plans are underway to transform Switzerland's seven biggest railway stations into "RailCities" - ultra-modern shopping and service hubs.
Swiss Federal Railways hopes that by turning once drab and dingy stations into bright, clean shopping centres it will attract more passengers.
Zurich, Basel, Lausanne, Geneva, Winterthur and Lucerne stations are all scheduled for major makeovers, with renovation work in Bern main station almost complete.
"If we want to move more people on to the trains we have to offer them more attractive stations," Hans Zimmermann, the head of RailCity Switzerland told a news conference on Tuesday.
He said railway customers were looking for the same level of comfort and range of services offered at modern airports and shopping centres.
In order to meet these demands the seven biggest stations were being partially rebuilt and renovated, Zimmermann said.
Bern station's transformation was scheduled to be complete by the end of March, followed by Basel and Lucerne later in the year.
The other four stations would be transformed into RailCities by the end of 2004.
Zimmermann said all seven stations would offer the same quality of service. Station shops would be open from early morning until late at night and the stations themselves would be cleaner and safer, with comfortable waiting rooms.
In addition to their increased shopping facilities, the new-look stations are also expected to host regular cultural events.
The Federal Railways said that investment in the major stations would extend beyond the completion of renovation work. It has announced plans to spend SFr200 million ($145 million) on the seven stations over the next five years.
swissinfo with agencies
Seven stations are being transformed into "RailCities".
Renovation work is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2004.
The new-look stations will boast improved shopping facilities.
Swiss Federal Railways plans to spend a further SFr200 million on the major stations over the next five years.
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