Politics

The story of the NRLA is an excellent case study of Swiss politics at work. It takes the various regions and political camps almost 40 years to agree on the definitive routes and funding. As long as this may seem, it means that the NRLA enjoys the broadest possible support. It is also a vital instrument of Swiss foreign policy, playing a key role in negotiations with the European Union by connecting the northern and southern parts of Europe. On top of this, it is an environmentally friendly solution to dealing with increasing traffic flows.

Keywords on this topic Politics

1 May 1909

Nationalisation of the Gotthard Railway Company

The SBB is created following the nationalisation of Switzerland’s major private railways. The last to be integrated is the Gotthard, which proves to be the most profitable line.

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25 June 1965

Car vs rail

Rail has held onto its lead for a long time, but with the opening of the Gotthard road tunnel in 1980 road transport through the Alps mounts a strong challenge.

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6 June 1971

Environmental policy turnaround

In the 1970s, people become increasingly aware of ecological concerns. Attention focuses on forest dieback and protecting the Alpine environment. The NRLA is one of the beneficiaries.

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2 March 1989

Cross-border solutions

A European transport conference in Frankfurt in 1989 gives its backing to rail transport. Adolf Ogi is there representing Switzerland.

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29 November 1989

No link for Eastern Switzerland

A rail line through the eastern Alps is eastern Switzerland’s dream. While those hopes come to nought, the region is included in the network option.

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4 October 1991

Parliament backs the NRLA

Parliament’s backing for the construction of the NRLA is based on regional, environmental and European policy arguments.

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2 May 1992

Agreement with Europe

Even before the Swiss people vote on the NRLA, politicians are discussing the project in their negotiations with the EEC.

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27 September 1992

Yes to the NRLA

Swiss voters approve the NRLA proposal by a clear majority, paving the way for construction of the new Gotthard, Ceneri and Lötschberg tunnels.

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6 December 1992

No to the EEA

Transport policy negotiations with Europe falter when Switzerland votes narrowly against joining the European Economic Area.

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20 February 1994

Yes to the Alps Initiative

The unexpected popular vote in favour of the Alps Initiative accelerates development of the NRLA.

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20 February 1995

Green light for the network option

The Federal Council confirms the network option for the NRLA, clearing the way for construction of the Gotthard-Ceneri and Lötschberg axes.

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29 May 1995

Transport policy as financial policy

Federal Councillor Otto Stich is convinced that the NRLA will cost more than the estimated 14 billion Swiss francs.

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18 April 1996

Uri’s concerns

The canton of Uri is particularly affected by construction of the Gotthard axis. It wants the approach route to the rail tunnel to run underground. Negotiations with the Confederation run far from smoothly.

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29 November 1998

Yes to public transport funding

Funding for the NRLA is secured: over 30 billion francs are to be spent modernising Switzerland’s rail infrastructure.

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18 December 1998

Supervision

Responsibility for ensuring that the large-scale project proceeds efficiently and in accordance with the law lies with parliament’s supervisory delegation.

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14 June 1999

Adjustments go unnoticed

Almost unnoticed by the public at large, the Federal Council brings forward the previously postponed construction of the twin-track Zurich-Thalwil tunnel.

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21 May 2000

The end of the 28-tonne limit

For the first time, goods vehicles weighing forty tonnes are permitted to travel on Swiss roads. In return, the EU accepts the heavy vehicle fee.

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17 December 2003

Yes to the Ceneri Base Tunnel

Funding for the Ceneri tunnel is controversial. Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger argues strongly in its favour.

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20 March 2009

The 5.4-billion stage

How much will the NRLA cost? Initial estimates quote a figure of 12 billion francs. In 2009 Parliament approves an additional and decisive sum of 5.4 billion.

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