Consultation launched for Swiss underground freight network

5 February 2024

The Swiss government has launched a consultation with the cantons on the proposed underground freight tunnel network, Cargo Sous Terrain (CST).

The system will stretch from Geneva to St Gallen, providing a tunnel network for automated, driverless electric freight vehicles. The first 70km section, connecting the Härkingen-Niederbipp hub with Zurich Airport, is scheduled to open in 2031 and CST plans to create a 500km nationwide network by 2045.

CST said the consultation, which is part of the government’s transport sector plan, was “the first stage of a comprehensive approval process that will ultimately enable the construction of the first section of the CST network from Härkingen to Zurich Airport”. The cantons’ feedback will be used to refine the project.

The sectoral plan shows the planning corridor for the route of the tunnel, construction-related planning zones and a detailed environmental impact report.

“The foundations of CST include a committed sustainability strategy for the benefit of the environment and climate,” said CST, adding that the project would create a new supply and waste disposal infrastructure for the benefit of the whole of Switzerland.

The privately financed freight and goods transport system aims to relieve pressure on roads and rail. In 2022, Switzerland’s Federal Council created the legal basis for the project, and last year geotechnical investigations commenced.

CST’s investors include Afry, Pini, Implenia and Siemens.