Railway investments: SBB: the Sommaruga plan is welcomed – Switzerland: xxPolitics

In the latest editions of “Matin Dimanche” and the “SonntagsZeitung”, Simonetta Sommaruga, head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication (DETEC), expressed the firm intention, between others, to develop the reliability of the rail. Concretely, the socialist magistrate plans to defend next year, within the government, a framework credit of around 14.5 billion francs. This sum would be invested in the maintenance of the infrastructure of the CFF network, from 2021 to 2024. Or an additional 1.3 billion compared to the costs agreed during the previous legislature.

Not just SBB

“Our experts have confirmed to me that we could improve a lot with this amount. All railway companies will benefit, not just SBB, “said the Federal Councilor. While adding a crucial clarification: “The money necessary for these maintenance works is already available, thanks to the fund for railway infrastructure.” News as rare as reassuring on the eve of major works, obviously favoring a rather favorable reception! “It is true that the railway infrastructure fund has an indefinite term. It also relies on guaranteed sources of funding over the long term, ”recalls Patrick Eperon, head of mobility policy at the Center Patronal de Lausanne.

This financial solidity does not however remove the difficulties. “The funds are there, of course, confirms Olivier Français, advisor to the Vaudois liberal-radical States and Chairman of the Transport and Telecommunications Commission from 2015 to 2017. However, the realization of projects still needs to be carried out with the assistance of the cantons and of the communes. As such, the delay has already reached two years in Lausanne stations alone. “He insisted on the complexity of the tasks to be envisaged in a major plan for the maintenance of railway infrastructure:” It is not just a question of ‘money. It is also necessary to ensure structural conditions conducive to achievements. Without forgetting to consult the local populations. ”

“We are more at risk of chaos than lack of money”

Patrick Eperon, responsible for mobility policy at the Center Patronal de Lausanne

This clarification recalls the real operational challenges of last summer, between Lausanne and Bern, imposing major cooperation efforts in various municipalities. In the coming years, various section blockages will still be on the program. As between Neuchâtel and Berne. This prospect does not seem to call into question the favorable reception reserved for the intentions of the next President of the Confederation. “In the long term, these section blockages bring real added value and do not allow any sausage policy. Taking care of railway infrastructure requires thorough work, “notes Olivier Français.

Taking into account these new inconveniences to be expected on the CFF network, Patrick Eperon does not hesitate to launch a real alert, in particular for the Romands: “These new interruptions of traffic on certain parts of the network will prove, unfortunately, inevitable. Other line breaks are likely and even more numerous than today. In particular in French-speaking Switzerland, due to delays in the maintenance of infrastructure in this region. “

Old demons

The information provided by Simonetta Sommaruga awakens old demons: road and rail rivalries over public investment. “Rail and road are in no way competing financially. They each have separate funds and budgets, “said Isabelle Pasquier-Eichenberger, Geneva Green National Councilor and member of the Transport and Telecommunications Commission.

This financial reality does not dissipate all the tension. “I am myself for the modal shift from road to rail. Solutions must nevertheless be found to the bottleneck of Crissier and in the bypass of Lausanne and Morges “, recalls Olivier Français. Patrick Eperon tackles the same problem from a national perspective: “The rail and road infrastructure will fall behind schedule, while traffic will continue to increase on both networks. So we find ourselves more at risk of chaos than lack of money. The challenge of the day is deadlines and achievements, but not funding. ”

Created: 12/29/2019, 8:36 p.m.

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