A vulnerable transport system

11 August 2017
A tunnel causes a diversion
A tunnel causes a diversion

The Rastatt Tunnel, which destabilised the tracks, is filled with concrete. (2017, Keystone)

Trains run from north to south and back with barely a hitch, transporting countless passengers and vast quantities of cargo. But the sophisticated transport system is fragile, as events in Rastatt (Baden-Württemberg) demonstrate. On 12 August 2017, tunnelling work causes several metres of the line in the Rhine Valley corridor to subside - with disastrous consequences for the NRLA. For almost two months traffic is at a standstill, all thanks to a problem with a section of track used by around 200 long-distance and regional trains every day. The alternative routes via Stuttgart and Alsace only have capacity for around 80 trains, while goods handling at Basel's port facilities on the Rhine increases by a third. Logistics and transport firms suffer major financial losses. Lessons are learnt from the debacle: better coordination and risk management are needed, which means strategies and logistical planning for regional parallel routes.

« A lot more needs to be coordinated centrally, beyond the individual corridors. »

Gregor Saladin FOT, NZZ, 2 October 2017
34,824 number of signals

controlled by the SBB from 530 signal boxes.

1.2 million

number of people travelling by train every day in Switzerland (together with 210,000 tonnes of goods).

10,264 number of tunnels, bridges and protection structures

supporting rail transport, which also come with risks attached.

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