Going on vacation by train this summer will be very complicated

Going on vacation by train this summer will be very complicated
Going on vacation by train this summer will be very complicated

Trains connecting Geneva to Milan will be canceled for three months, from June to September. And those who want to take the train to Hamburg, Stuttgart or Paris will have to take a longer journey. The competent politicians capitulate – with the exception of a Ticino resident.

Leandra Sommaruga / ch media

Milan, Hamburg, Stuttgart, Paris: this summer it will be difficult, if not impossible, to get to these cities by train. The reason is the same everywhere: construction sites. In Switzerland, maintenance work is carried out at night in order to maintain the pace of the timetable, but some neighboring countries such as Germany have decided to completely close lines for the duration of the work. This summer, several of them are affected, in all our neighboring countries. The interruption of the Geneva-Milan line at Domodossola, however, caused particular excitement.

Rant from Ticino

The fact that sanitation works will take place on the Italian side towards Milan was communicated last August. From June 9 to September 8, part of the line will be closed to train traffic, which will be replaced by buses. These will have less capacity and the journey time will be longer, as the CFF write. Ticino National Councilor Bruno Storni (PS) learned a few days ago that the line would be completely closed to rail traffic for three months. He then presented the Transport Committee with a letter addressed to the Federal Council.

He asked for the Berne-Brigue-Milan train connection to be maintained. This possibility would exist:

“The trains could pass through Borgomanero and Novara”

This line is not overloaded, he believes, and introducing some connections in the morning and evening should be possible.

A majority of the Transport Committee today considered that it was too late to act in such a short term. “It’s embarrassing,” comments Storni. When the freight train derailed in the Gotthard Base Tunnel last August, the SBB was able to reorganize the traffic within three days, he points out. The responsibility would certainly not fall on the CFF because the section concerned is operated by Trenitalia. The problem is that the SBB had already planned the closure of the line before the accident in the Gotthard base tunnel: “We could have required passengers to go to Milan via Zurich,” explains Storni. This would have meant an additional hour of travel.

But the journey via the Gotthard panoramic line now takes almost two hours longer. The Ticino fears that more people will then want to cross the Gotthard by car – and that the columns of vehicles will lengthen further in front of the tunnel.

National Councilor Simon Stadler (UR, Center) also sympathizes with the international trend of shifting traffic from road to rail. But he emphasizes that Switzerland is very dependent on foreign countries for international rail connections. Construction work on the Milan line is the responsibility of Italy.

“Switzerland’s room for maneuver is very limited in this area”

Simon Stadler

The removal of the link could represent an additional burden for its canton. Traffic jams are, however, a well-known problem in Uri. The measures taken by the canton to manage highway exits would begin to bear fruit.

Replacement buses and stops not served

An alternative route to Milan is planned for travelers from Lausanne and Geneva. A replacement bus will run three times a day between Geneva and Milan via the Grand Saint-Bernard, with a stop in Lausanne. Reservations are required and the number of places is limited. As SBB spokesperson Martin Meier writes, travel time will be extended by approximately one hour. In August, a further extension of the travel duration is possible due to cumulative construction work.

There is no alternative for those wishing to travel by train to German-speaking countries. Trains from Basel to Hamburg will be canceled from July 15 to December 14. The Zurich-Stuttgart line will also not be served continuously between August 3 and September 6.e. Towards Austria, travelers must seek their own solutions when the line between Buchs SG and Feldkirch will be closed from August 10 to September 9. A replacement concept is still being developed.

Construction work north of Dijon will result in, from August 13 to December 14, 2024, a reduction in the number of TGVs running from Monday to Friday from Zurich and Lausanne to Paris and in the opposite direction. Diversions via Strasbourg will be possible on the line linking Zurich to Paris.

Due to construction work between Renens and Denges, the TGV between Lausanne and Geneva will be canceled from June 29 to August 18, 2024. Direct and regular trains between Lausanne and Geneva will allow you to reach Paris from Lausanne with the same travel time, with a change of train in Geneva.

Translated and adapted from German by Léa Krejci

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