Swiss group reveals plans for underground freight network

Swiss group reveals plans for underground freight network

Cargo Sous Terrain (CST) has announced plans to build an underground freight delivery network that will use autonomous vehicles to ferry pallets and packages between Switzerland’s major cities and towns. CST plans to start by building a 70 kilometre (km) tunnel between Härkingen-Niederbipp and Zurich, and then expanding the system to stretch from Lake Geneva to Lake Constance, with branches to Thun, Luzern and Basel.

The autonomous (aka self-driving) electrically-powered delivery vehicles will travel on rails at around 30km an hour. The tunnel will be about 50 metres below ground and there will be elevators to bring the pallets and packages up to ground level to the city hubs. They will then be distributed by eco-vehicles to their final destinations. (Alternatively, of course, the hubs could also provide parcel pick-up facilities.)

According to media reports, the system will feature a “suspended upper rail for rapid parcel delivery” which will travel at around 60km and cater to the express e-commerce delivery market.

Because the CST rail vehicles are environmentally friendly and travelling underground, they will not be subject to restrictions on city night-time operations and they will also help to reduce traffic congestion.

CST President Peter Sutterlüti has been quoted as saying that the planned new tunnel system will “stand the world of logistics on its head”.

The CST Executive Committee features some important figures from the Swiss logistics community, including Swiss Post’s Stefan Luginbühl. DPD is listed on the CST website as being one of the project partners.

CST released an official statement and feasibility report on 26 January and sources report that there are plans to create a joint-stock company within the next couple of years. This is very much a long term project: the group hopes to have the network up and running by 2030.

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