SBB presents plan to solve ‘Bern bottleneck’ with 12 years of construction

visualisations of the Bern West railway expansion with a footbridge to be built SBB / Maaars infrastructure

To create more capacity for rail traffic in Switzerland, especially in the Bern area, SBB plans several major infrastructure works, made public this week. Centerpiece is a 1.7-kilometre tunnel west of the city center., and a new Europaplatz Nord stop will be built in Holligen.

There are always bottlenecks in the Bern rail hub, which have an impact on all long-distance traffic in Switzerland, according to SBB. With a major expansion known as AS25 (Ausbauschritt 2025) funded by the Federal Government, bottlenecks should be eliminated and rail operations in Switzerland further optimised. The entire project’s estimated costs are around 770 million euros (CHF 750 million), with twelve years of construction works ahead. f

The goals include more stable and more connections between Bern and Zurich, a half-hourly service to Lucerne and Neuchâtel and more trains on the Bern-Thun. An S-Bahn train will run between Bern and Münsingen every quarter of an hour, and there will also be more connections between Bern and Burgdorf.

The construction plans

The start of construction is planned for spring 2025. Five sub-projects are planned for the AS25 overall project to improve performance in Bern West. These are the separation of Holligen with the 1.7 kilometre-long new Holligen Tunnel. Passengers are expected to travel through the Holligen Tunnel for the first time in 2034. Since the tunnel will intersect with the existing Steigerhubel underpass at the same level, the existing underpass must be taken out of service, and a footbridge crossing the tracks in Bern for pedestrians and cyclists will be constructed.

A new siding for regional and long-distance trains at Aebimatt will be constructed on the west side of Bern train station. In addition, works will be done on the western end of Bern station where the platform and the associated tracks 12/13 are to be extended so that longer trains can stop.

A brand new stop called Europaplatz Nord will be built, which will go into operation in 2028 and will replace the existing Stöckacker stop a few hundred meters to the west. The new Europaplatz Nord stop also includes a new pedestrian underpass for the city of Bern.

As things currently stand, it will take until 2036 for the entire project to be completed. A separate planning approval process will be submitted later to the Federal Office of Transport (BAV) for the west end of Bern station. In February 2023, SBB submitted the dossier for the planning approval process to the Federal Office of Transport. The public edition will take place from May 15, 2023 to June 13, 2023 in Bern.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Former Editor RailTech.com

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