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Why the 'strategic' Geneva to Lyon train line needs drastic improvement

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Why the 'strategic' Geneva to Lyon train line needs drastic improvement
Lyon lies close to Geneva but getting there is not always fun. Image by Jean-Louis SERVAIS from Pixabay

Commuters on trains between Geneva and Lyon (and vice versa) have had to face a number of problems over the years. But there is a new move to drastically improve the service.


The train services circulating several times a day between Switzerland’s second-largest city and Lyon in France are used by thousands of commuters on both sides of the border.

But these trains, operated by France’s national railway company SNCF, as well as the country's regional rail network,TER, are subpar, according to Swiss Green Party MP Delphine Klopfenstein Broggini, who has brought this issue to Switzerland's Federal Council.

She has sounded the alarm over the fact that many of the trains circulating between these two major cities are in poor condition, and she says the rail infrastructure on the French side of the border is dilapidated and in need of urgent upgrading.

Not only are these trains uncomfortable for passengers, Klopfenstein Broggini argues, but the outdated infrastructure also means that additional trains can’t be put into circulation.

“This link is strategic for Switzerland, as it is its gateway to southwest Europe,” Klopfenstein Broggini pointed out, so improvements on this 112-km-long line “must therefore become a priority” for the government.

What exactly is she pushing for?

“My primary goal is that there should be more, but less obsolete, direct trains running on this line,” the MP said.

“Today, there are around thirty trains which connect Zurich to Stuttgart every day. But on the Geneva to Lyon line, there are only around ten. There should be twice as many, which would alleviate the [overcrowding] situation a lot.”

But that’s not all: she also wants Swiss trains to be put into service on this line for more efficiency.


“I am also asking if it would be possible for Bern to invest in rolling stock on this line, so as to ensure its maintenance, or even its operation, in collaboration with France,” she added.

The SBB operates trains from Geneva to Milan, so Swiss trains could also run to Lyon, Klopfenstein Broggini said.

“This would be in Switzerland's interest,” she added.

And there would also be another benefit in a more efficient train connecting Geneva with Lyon, according to the MP.

If the infrastructure were in better shape and the trains more modern, the two-hour journey between the two cities could be shortened.

That would make the commute more appealing to some of the 220,000 cross-border workers who commute to their jobs in Geneva from France by car.

"The goal is to transfer some of these motorists from road to rail,” the MP said.

The next step is for the Federal Council to discuss Klopfenstein Broggini’s proposal.



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