Costs and economic viability

The credit approved by Parliament for the construction of the NRLA was CHF 19.1 billion (1998 prices). The cost of the project has been CHF 17.7 billion. This corresponds to CHF 22.8 billion in today’s prices, including interest and VAT. Although the NRLA is not economically profitable, it offers many economic advantages and is a worthwhile investment in transport policy.

At the referendum of 1998, the Federal Council estimated the cost of the NRLA at CHF 13.6 billion (1995 prices). In 2008, Parliament raised the credit amount for the NRLA as part of the ‘FinTP masterplan’ to CHF 19.1 billion (1998 prices). Since then the forecast for the final cost of the project has fallen slightly and currently stands at CHF 17.7 billion. This translates to about CHF 22.8 billion at today’s costs, including interest and VAT. The additional costs compared with the original estimates came about due to the following factors:

  • Raising of safety standards and modifications due to technological changes (e.g. Ceneri Base Tunnel with two separate tubes rather than one twin-track tube)
  • Benefits for the public and the environment (e.g. bypass of Frutigen station, new junction at Erstfeld)
  • Geology
  • Tendering and execution of building works
  • Project expansions

The motive for the building of the NRLA remains primarily a question of transport policy. However, it is also a worthwhile economic investment with a considerable socio-economic impact:

  • Its economic benefits outweigh its construction costs;
  • These advantages largely benefit Switzerland;
  • The effect on employment is equal to 100,000 man-years;
  • Inland transport times have fallen by up to 50%;
  • Shifting traffic from road to rail has greatly benefited the environment;
  • A network with two routes provides greater economic benefits.

The benefits of the NRLA cannot only be measured in economic terms and according to economic viability. As is the case for the whole rail network, it could only be built and can only be operated through public funding.