Buildings and installations regarding railways, trams, trolley buses, cableways and (inland) navigation, require planning approval from the Federal Office of Transport (FOT). This is equivalent to a construction permit. During the planning approval procedure, the FOT checks whether the project complies with the relevant technical regulations, whether the rights of those affected are safeguarded and whether the federal provisions relating to spatial planning and environmental, natural and cultural heritage protection are met.
In ordinary planning approval procedures, the FOT examines and approves, for example, track installations, bridges and tunnels, as well as installations by third parties built on existing railway installations, trolleybus overhead lines, cableways and landing facilities for shipping. The procedure is governed by the legislation on railways (see Art. 18 ff. Railways Act, RailA), but also applies to tram, trolley bus and navigation installations. Cableways are subject to similar provisions under the Cableways Act (see Art. 9 ff. CabA).
With planning approval, the FOT issues all the permits required under federal law; no additional cantonal permits are required.
Besides the ordinary planning approval procedure, the FOT may also apply a simplified planning approval procedure for certain construction projects if they are locally based, affect only a few people, or have only a minor impact on space and the environment. Simplified procedures are also used for temporary facilities or for detailed plans based on a previously approved project (cf. Art. 18i RailA).
Installations may be constructed or modified without planning approval only if they do not affect any legitimate interests related to spatial planning, environmental protection, nature conservation and heritage protection or involving third parties, and no licensing requirement arises under other federal legislation (Art. 1a of the Ordinance on the Planning Approval Procedure for Railway Installations, PAPRO).