The research was launched in 2014 after Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) requested additional funding for infrastructure maintenance. The federal government will provide SFr 7.6bn ($US 7.6bn) for this purpose in 2017-2020, a 15% increase compared with the previous funding period.

The BAV analyses show that the relation between cause and effect is extremely complex, but several core findings emerged. Over the last 20-25 years, the network has been more intensively used than ever before with heavier trains and higher speeds. In addition, the report notes that there has been a general failure to recognise the gradual deterioration, coupled with a shortage of qualified staff, inconsistent strategies, and pressure on prices.

The report was produced in cooperation with Switzerland's largest railway companies, SBB, BLS, and SOB. The BAV has suggested a number of measures to improve the situation, including systematic inspection of infrastructure assets and regular maintenance, incentivising operators to use track-friendly rolling stock, improved coordination between stakeholders, and better lifecycle cost analysis. One measure that has already been adopted is the introduction of attrition factors in the track access pricing system, which will come into effect from the beginning of 2017.

Full analysis of the report will appear in the February issue of IRJ.