Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Spatial effects of Swissmetro

Switzerland Flag
Complete with results
Project Acronym
F5b (NRP 41)
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
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, ecological limits, and 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

The goal of this project is to simulate the effects of transportation infrastructure changes on regional development, using the Swissmetro as an example.


Essentially the research followed two methods:

  • The simulation of regional development in Switzerland up to 2030 using an integrated transport and land-use model (TRANUS) - a modelling software. The most important characteristic of these kind of models is that the regional distribution of businesses and households as well as their socio-economic ties create traffic flows, as shown in the transportation part of the model. The calculated accessibility costs between the different model zones depend on track supply, influencing as a result the allocation of activites over time.
  • Combination of different variations of the future national transportation system and different scenarios of social, economic and political factors.


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


The most important finding of the simulation was that regardless of the chosen scenario and transportation variation, the Swissmetro had only a minimal impact on the allocation of activities. The large urban centers and the region of Lake Geneva belong in any case to the winners, while the peripheral areas and eastern Switzerland for the most part have to be assigned to the losers. As expected, the Ticino reacted the most dramatically to the presence of the Swissmetro. The presence of the Swissmetro leads only to a very slight increase in the use of public transportation, accounting for only a small number of total trips. This confirms the results of the regional allocation that only a minor part of socio-economic relationships do profit from the improved accessibility are orded by the Swissmetro, leading to minimal allocation differences.

Policy implications

The lack of a federal role concerning the planning of transport projects could prove an impediment to the completion of a Swissmetro network effective both in a territorial and an economic sense. Carried out according to an exclusively economic logic, the Swissmetro project could create unwanted effects. We advise that the decision whether or not to construct Swissmetro should be taken according to the social/spatial context. According to the scenarios, the high-speed project is much more up to the task of favouring desirable spatial developments than others. It will therefore be a matter of exploiting this transport project in order to arrive at the desired territorial effects. Such a process of implementation will not work without active participation of public decision-makers in the definition of this transport project which is also a social project in many ways.


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.

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office' /> 

Policy Implications


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


Contribute! Submit your project

Do you wish to submit a project or a programme? Head over to the Contribute page, login and follow the process!