Switzerland’s newest motorway gets a billion francs to speed up works

Switzerland have pledged more than CHF1 billion to upgrade the country’s highway network, with 60 percent set to go towards the A9 motorway in upper Valais.

Switzerland’s newest motorway gets a billion francs to speed up works
Photo: Depositphotos

The new funding was approved by the Federal Council on Wednesday as part of the national road construction network scheme. 

The total amount to be invested of CHF1.075 billion (€977 billion) is in addition to funds already promised towards improving the Swiss highway network. 

The money will be spent from 2020 to 2023. The majority will be spent upgrading and extending the A9 which links Valais with the A4 in the neighbouring cantons of Uri and Schwyz.

Originally forecast for completion in 2024, the road is now expected to be finished in 2023. 

Although the work is carried out by the specific cantons, the majority of the funding comes from the federal government. On average, around 87 percent of highways are funded through federal sources. 

Pursuant to the Swiss constitution, individual cantons are not allowed to charge tolls on motorways in their region. Instead, drivers on Swiss highways are required to purchase an annual vignette (toll sticker) which allows them to drive on federal roads. 

What you need to know about Switzerland's motorway charge sticker 

While the entire Valais project is set to be completed in 2023, some sections will be operational earlier. This includes the Sierre-Gampel and Steg / Gampel-Visp West roads in Upper Valais (2021). The Visp Bypass as well as the A4 link motorway will be completed later. 


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Swedish government shelves plans for two fast train links

Sweden's government has called for a halt to planning to faster train links between Gothenburg and Borås and Jönköping and Hässleholm, in a move local politicians have called "a catastrophe".

Swedish government shelves plans for two fast train links

In an announcement slipped out just before Christmas Eve, the government said it had instructed the Swedish Transport Administration to stop all planning for the Borås to Gothenburg link, stop the ongoing work on linking Hässleholm and Lund. 

“The government wants investments made in the railway system to first and foremost make it easier for commuting and cargo traffic, because that promotes jobs and growth,” infrastructure minister Andreas Carlson said in a press release. “Our approach is for all investments in the railways that are made to be more cost effective than if the original plan for new trunk lines was followed.” 

Ulf Olsson, the Social Democrat mayor in Borås, told the TT newswire that the decision was “a catastrophe”. 

“We already have Sweden’s slowest railway, so it’s totally unrealistic to try to build on the existing railway,” he said. We are Sweden’s third biggest commuting region and have no functioning rail system, and to release this the day before Christmas Eve is pretty symptomatic.”

Per Tryding, the deputy chief executive for the Southern Sweden Chamber of Commerce, complained that the decision meant Skåne, Sweden’s most southerly county, would now have no major rail infrastructure projects. 

“Now the only big investment in Skåne which was in the plan is disappearing, and Skåne already lay far behind Gothenburg and Stockholm,” he said.

“This is going to cause real problems and one thing that is certain that it’s going to take a very long time, whatever they eventually decide. It’s extremely strange to want to first suspend everything and then do an analysis instead of doing it the other way around.”  

The government’s instructions to the transport agency will also mean that there will be no further planning on the so-called central parts of the new planned trunk lines, between Linköping and Borås and Hässleholm and Jönköping. 

Carlson said that the government was prioritising “the existing rail network, better road standards, and a build-out of charging infrastructure”.