Even today most trains are overloaded in the peak hours. Since the implementation of the Rail 2000 timetable in December 2004, public transportation has grown by 30%, and up to 50% in the bigger city areas. Yet the network has reached its capacity limit.
The strong growth in utilization is pushing the marginal cost of monitoring and maintenance upwards and additional trains require expensive new tracks. By the year 2030, the Swiss National Railways (SBB/CFF/FFS) expect an overall increase of another 50% and even a doubling of today's traffic volume on the already heavily stressed main transport corridors.
At the same time, laying new tracks is becoming more and more difficult and expensive, because rail technology, being 150 years old, is reaching its limits. In many areas, todays railways still run on routes that were originally built in the 19th century.
To reach higher speeds with conventional high speed trains requires special routes with many engineering structures such as tunnels and bridges. It is impossible to implement these types of high speed trains in Switzerland due to topographical, technical and noise problems. The TGV and the ICE trains are therefore never going to be used to their full potential, and will continue to be used like conventional trains.
The Transrapid faces the same problems. Because of its tremendous speed, it has to overcome the enormous aerodynamic drag. It therefore requires enormous amounts of energy to operate and creates a lot of noise.
Because of the elevated tracks the noise impact carries over a great distance. So either additional tunnel sections have to be built or the opposition of residents and lengthy approval processes delay the project indefinitely.
These are the reasons why no commercial stretch of the Transrapid has been built in Germany to this day. Even in Shanghai the noise it creates and the space it requires prevent the Transrapid from running into the city center instead of stopping at an outskirt.
Today there the only way into the city conurbations is underground, because no land is used and no noise is caused. Swissmetro uses the advantages of tunnels to realize a technological leap to an energy-saving and low-maintenance highspeed transportation of and for the future. Swissmetro is the only practical, affordable and cost worthy solution to meet Switzerland's future need for personal mobility.