CONSTRUCTION of the Zimmerberg Base Tunnel II, the expansion of Zürich-Stadelhofen station, and Olten and Zug junctions are among the Swiss railway improvement projects set to experience delays of more than three years according to the Federal Office for Transport’s (BAV) annual report on the status of major railway projects.

The projects are included in the government’s SFr 12.89bn ($US 12.89bn) programme to increase capacity on the national network between 2020 and 2035, which is funded through the Rail Infrastructure Fund. However, the report says these schemes will be operational after 2035 and BAV says further delays cannot be ruled out.

The planned 10.8km second phase of the Zimmerberg Base Tunnel will connect the existing tunnel from Zürich in the Nidelbad area, which was completed in 2003, through single-track dual bore tunnels, to reconnect with the line to Baar at Zug. At 19.2km, the tunnel will be Switzerland’s fourth longest railway tunnel when completed. The tunnel is currently budgeted at SFr 1.4bn and construction is scheduled to commence in 2029.

Likewise, improvements to the Geneva hub and the Bern-Wankdorf Süd/Ostermundigen unbundling are also running behind and are not expected to enter operation until around 2035.

BAV says railway infrastructure improvement and expansion projects are underway at “several hundred locations” across Switzerland but restrictions caused by existing railway operation, tight timeframes for construction work and objections are resulting in the delays.

The Federal Council is expected to present a consultation proposal on the status of the railway expansion programme and long-term prospects for further expansion of Switzerland’s railway later this year.