The NRP 41 was launched by the Federal Council at the end of 1995 to improve the scientific basis which could help to find solutions to Switzerland's traffic problems, taking into account the growing interconnection with Europe, ecological limits, and economic and social needs.
The NRP 41 aimed at becming 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
Projects relating to public cross-border passenger transport infrastructures and their modes of operation were a major focus, highlighting the significant role played by institutional players at all stages - the planning, construction and operation of transport systems. A further aim was to pinpoint the interactions between the projects under investigation and other projects or modes of transport, particularly road transport, and the modalities of their integration in overall transport policy in the region concerned, wherever such a policy exists.
Indeed, there is no such thing as a public transport policy on the one hand, and a private one on the other. Instead, there exists an overall policy in which various projects and modes of transport interconnect and interact with each other. Several projects centred on five Swiss border regions were examined in this perspective. They are characterised by a given spatial organisation (urban or rural context, high or low density of population and jobs, etc.), a set of problems relative to transport (link-up to a major international railroad main line, volume and nature of transboundary traffic, etc.) and different habits of co-operation (length and intensity of transboundary relations).
Five case studies examined how they can solve their particular problems:
- Upper Rhine region (Green and Red City Railway)
- Constance/Kreuzlingen (Line 8 and 'Seehaas')
- Insubrica (Station Chiasso-Como and Line Lugano-Mendrisio-Varese)
- Geneva/France (example 'Transport collectif en site propre' - TCSP)
- Chablais/Unterwallis (Tonkin Railway and Mont-Blanc Express)
The five case study demonstrated that there was significant potential for customer growth and cost reduction, which could be developed through innovative cross-border transport facilities - if time-tables and tariffs could be consolidated on both sides of the border and unnecessary stops for customs and passport control could be eliminated. Liberalisation and regionalization in rail transport open up new opportunities to deal with these issues, if the regions are willing to actively respond to them.
Consequently, the authors suggest that organisations for cross-border co-operation should be strengthened, provided with more democratic foundations and, where necessary, given more security through inter-government agreements. In most cases it would make sense to develop common overall concepts for regional transport planning. With regard to the transit regions, the planning of transit traffic and regional transport need to be optimised.