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Spatial Effects of the transport infrastructure in the Magadino Plain

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Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Infrastructure Node
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Infrastructure (INF)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The Magadino Plain study is one of three case studies in a joint project of the Federal Office for Spatial Development OSD (in German: ARE), which initiated the project in collaboration with the Federal Office of Transport (FOT), the Federal Office for Roads (FEDRO), the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) as well as the canton of Tessin.


The aim of this project is to analyse the spatial effects of transport infrastructures. Reliable hypotheses should be formulated and verified for local as well as national political actions.

  • Ex-Post analysis as case study;
  • Tripod Analysis (Büro Güller Güller architecture urbanism, „Räumliche Auswirkungen der Verkehrsinfrastrukturen – Lernen aus der Vergangenheit – Methodologische Vorstudie“, Bundesamt für Raumentwicklung, Bern 2003);
  • Interviews with important actors and experts;
  • Analysis with the related and comparable region Frauenfeld-Kreuzlingen – where a highway is already in use;
  • Statistical Analysis.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
ARE - Federal Office for Spatial Development
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


The analysis show that there is no mechanical connection between putting a new traffic intrastructure into operation and spatial development of the relevant region. Traffic insfrastructure is not really an independent factor of development, but it enhances the spatial effects of other factors (such as macro-economic influences, regional potential, active role of public and private actors). Seen from this point of view, traffic infrastructure provides opportunities but these will have to be used actively by the local actors (see the example of the comparable region Frauenfeld-Kreuzlingen).


The macro-economic parameters are of great importance. Potential spatial effects of new traffic infrastructures are clearly more significant in times of economic growth. These effects may actually not happen at all or will only be very marginal in times of economic stagnation or recession. Changed accessability of a region, especially by means of a motorway connecting the region with the superior central city, seems to be more important to the region than the actual expansion of the transport infrastructure inside the region.

One of the characteristics of the Magadino Plain is the fact that the settlements along the two corridors formed by the railway and the cantonal roads are situated at the edge of the plain, in the foothills. This linear settlement structure along transport routes between central cities can be found in many urban areas of Switzerland.


Even if there are some disadvantages (bundling of traffic flows into one single corridor), this is an ideal situation for spatial planning. Concentration and aggregation of construction zones, a mix of residential, commercial and industrial areas and their proximity to agricultural zones and forest areas for recreational purposes, closeness to public transport routes, simple development of all settlements with the help of one single road axis.


A linear arrangement of settlements along the traffic corridors (cantonal roads and railway), which can be found in the Magadino Plain and in many periurban spaces in Switzerland, are a good starting point for public transport. Comparison between corridors with and without motorways (comparison either within the analysed area or with a comparable one) shows that new road infrastructure with comparable parameters contributes to a spatially homogenous development of residential land use within a region.


If road infrastructure is extend

Policy implications

The results of the case study can not be carried forward to other situations unconditionally. Still they show some tendencies which can be of importance for other periurban areas with analogous characteristics. (see key results)


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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