The railways are an efficient and environmentally friendly means of transport, and should be further extended. For people who live and work close to railway lines, they are also a source of bothersome noise. The Confederation has therefore –very early on compared to other countries – taken countermeasures to maintain or improve the quality of life of people who live alongside the key transport routes. An initial programme of noise abatement on the railways was put together at the turn of the millennium, with Parliament providing CHF 1.854 billion. Under this programme, the Swiss rolling stock in both passenger and goods traffic was completely remediated by 2016, and about 276 km of noise barriers were built and more than 70,000 sound-insulating windows installed.
As early as 2013 Parliament resolved to finance a follow-up programme using part of the credit remaining from the first noise abatement programme. A total of CHF 1.515 billion (pricing basis Oct. 1998) is available.
The most important measure of this second package is the introduction of a binding emission threshold for goods wagons – including those belonging to foreign wagon keepers. From early 2020, Switzerland has banned the operation of noisy wagons with grey cast iron brakes. Further elements of the second noise abatement package are grants for the purchase and operation of particularly quiet goods wagons, and strengthening departmental research on railway noise.