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Integration into the European network: passenger transport

Switzerland Flag
Project Acronym
B6 (NRP 41)
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Rail icon
Transport sectors
Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

The NRP 41 was launched by the Federal Council at the end of 1995 to improve the scientific basis on which Switzerland's traffic problems might be solved, taking into account the growing interconnection with Europe, the ecological limits, and the economic and social needs. The NRP 41 aimed to become a think-tank for sustainable transport policy. Each one of the 54 projects belongs to one of the following six modules:

  • A Mobility: Socio-institutional Aspects
  • B Mobility: Socio-economical Aspects
  • C Environment: Tools and Models for Impact Assessments
  • D Political and Economic Strategies and Prerequisites
  • E Traffic Management: Potentials and Impacts
  • F Technologies: Potentials and Impacts
  • M Materials
  • S Synthesis Projects

1.       Analysis of the actual condition of the integration of Swiss transportation network into the Trans-European Network (TEN).<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office' />

2.       Analysis of the demand of target and source traffic.

3.       Determination of criteria for an optimal and sustainable integration of Switzerland into the TEN.

4.       Selection of concepts for Switzerland's integration


The study evaluates data from the international passengers' demand of the different transport modes - rail, road, and air - and systematically analyses eight different potential railway improvement schemes by sustainability criteria.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Swiss National Science Foundation SNF
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


Travelling times

An analysis has proved that only a small percentage of the population (between 4% and 8%) in 33 centres in Western, Central and Southern Europe can be reached by day journeys. The exceptions are Lugano with 10% (because of Milan), Lausanne with 15% and Geneva with 17% (because of Paris). This overall low percentage does not lead to the conclusion that the larger centres or a certain part of the country are well integrated into Europe, but that Switzerland is generally more or less equally badly integrated.


Just 3% (nine out of 363) of all connections are very good, i.e. faster than 120 km/hr. Only 8 to 14% can be considered fast with between 100 and 120 km/hr and between 42 and 63% of travelling times to European centres are bad or give reason for concern. Individual cases prove that travelling times to nearby centres are rather bad, whereas relatively distant destinations (Paris, London, Hamburg, and Rome) can be reached via fast tracks in a relatively significantly shorter time. For the five large Swiss urban centres, connecting travelling speeds of between 83 km/hr (to Bern) and 85 km/hr (Geneve, Lausanne and Basle) have been calculated. This means that none of these five centres enjoys particular advantages or suffers special disadvantages, whereas the picture looks quite different with regard to connections between medium-sized and large urban centres with average speeds of 67 km/hr to Lugano and 77 km/hr to Interlaken.

Number and quality of international connections

Although frequency is a major element for the attractiveness of rail transport, international rail travellers demand a further element of quality, if possible - they want to reach their destination directly and without having to change. An analysis of these two elements (frequency and directness) proves that:

  • Day journey destinations are reached only slightly more frequently than two-day journeys.
  • With the exception of Basle and Geneva (the latter, albeit, with relatively few, i.e. eight connections per day) less than a quarter of these connections provide through-travel. In the case of Lucerne just 5% of connections are direct, and in the case of the urban conglomeration of Kreuzlingen/Constance none provide this element of comfort.
  • The frequency of connections from Switzerland's five large urban centres to the European centres is the same as from the medium-sized centres, although they of

    Policy implications

    Apart from these results, the study in general affords a number of interesting conclusions:

    • The integration concepts have little impact on a changeover with regard to the total of Switzerland's target/source traffic.
    • Optimising border-crossing transport provisions for long-distance travelling through Switzerland should have priority. If possible, InterCity and InterRail transport should be extended to centres at the border.
    • International long-distance transport should be extended beyond Switzerland's larger centres to medium-sized centres, and to tourism centres in particular.
    • Increasing passenger volumes would justify increased frequencies as improved provision creates higher passenger volumes. In particular direct connections should be developed.
    • Contrary to expectations, the ideal integration concepts depend very little on the progress of TEN implementation. The order of the purpose in the different variants hardly changes. 'Soft' measures (provision concepts) and 'semi-soft' measures (inclining train technology) could have significant impact, are competitive, and protect resources, although they still do not make rail transport sufficiently competitive in comparison with road transport. In order to achieve this goal, in addition new tracks are required to improve the major connections between Switzerland the European Union by about 15 per cent.


    Key Findings
    No results directly relevant to this theme. However, please note that some findings relevant to the project's key theme (Long-distance) are generically applicable.

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Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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