Switzerland backs dedicated rail infrastructure fund

The Swiss public have voted in favour of introducing a new dedicated fund to finance rail infrastructure maintenance and upgrades.

For the first time, Switzerland will have a reliable source of ring-fenced funding for rail projects after 62 per cent of voters backed the Finanzierung und Ausbau der Bahninfrastruktur (FABI) bill during a referendum on February 9.

Previously, major infrastructure projects, like the Gotthard and Ceneri Base tunnels, were financed through a combination of federal and cantonal funding.

Around CHF 5 billion will be raised annually through taxation, contributions from cantons and higher fares.

Between now and 2025, CHF 6.4 billion will be set aside for enhancements, of which CHF 5.4 billion has already been allocated.

Much of the planned work is designed to increase capacity on the existing network, with projects including upgrading the Geneva-Lausanne and Bern-Zurich-Winterthur routes to accomodate double-deck trains.

Swiss Federal Railways’ (SBB) chief executive, Andreas Meyer, said the fund would create a ‘solid foundation’ to provide better, more reliable services.