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Swiss train travel - why so costly?

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The Swiss love their railways, and they are willing to pay dearly for them. On average the Swiss travel 2274 km (1413 miles) yearly, more than any other nation’s population.

Another record: By the end of 2016 (target date) the new St. Gotthard base tunnel - the lower-level tunnel through the St. Gotthard massif - should be finished and will be the world’s longest railway tunnel (57 km = 35 miles). Although top speed will be “only” 160 km (100 miles), a savings of 55 minutes is anticipated since far less climbing has to occur; max. elevation (between Erstfeld near the south end of Lake Lucerne and Biasca in the Ticino) will be 550 meters = 1800 ft above sea level.

The trip from Zürich to Milano will take about 2:40 hrs. Lugano will become a more prominent hub, once the Ceneri base tunnel will be open; Zürich-Lugano will take only 82 minutes!

The new tunnel will serve passenger trains every half hour, while the old tunnel higher up will still have passenger trains every hour.

The cost of this project is enormous, and it is only one of many; Switzerland’s topography with all the hills and the massive mountains poses severe challenges to the widening and improvement of the network; the Lötschberg base tunnel (34km = 21miles) is just one of several other such costly projects in recent years.

All this has to be paid for. That explains why you get sticker shock when you’re planning a train trip in Switzerland, and why it is wise to scope out all means of obtaining savings, at www.sbb.ch and at www.swisstravelsystem.com/en/home.html among other resources.

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