The SBB engineer Rodolphe Nieth commutes daily from Lausanne to Bern to work and begins to think about how one could travel the route in less time. As a traffic engineer, he knows about the enormous problems of conventional high-speed trains concerning line location, aerodynamic drag and track wear. He designs an elegant solution to these problems: a maglev train in underground vacuum tunnels.
With time Nieth speaks with many friends and acquaintances about his idea. Finally, he finds support in the person of Marcel Jufer. The professor at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne sees no unsolvable problems for the realization of the idea.
Slowly political parties begin to show interest in the project. On two different political levels, Robert Ducret (GE) and Sergio Salvioni (TI) strongly support the project. In a postulate Ducret calls on the Federal Council to consider the project. Swissmetro appears in the media for the first time.
The Swiss Department of Transportation commissions a feasibility study from the German company Dornier.
The report of Dornier is published and is very positive. The same year federal councilor Adolf Ogi takes over the Department of Transportation. Ogi is highly interested in the project and provides the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne with a credit in the amount of 500 000 Swiss Francs for a preliminary study. The study is co-funded by the Federal Institute of Technology and the private sector.
During an information meeting on the New Railway Link through the Alps )NRLA) in Munich, Federal Councilor Adolf Ogi raises the idea of a Eurometro.
The promotion company Swissmetro AG is founded. State councillor Sergio Salvioni becomes president of the company.
The results of the preliminary study confirm the appropriateness, feasibility and economic viability of the project. The first Swissmetro exhibition is opened at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne.
The Swissmetro main study begins. The cost of 14 million Swiss francs is shared between the state and the private sector. Elektrowatt AG takes the project lead in cooperation with the two Swiss technical universities.
Am application for the concession for a pilot route Geneva - Lausanne is submitted to the Department of Transportation. The Federal Council expresses interest.
The main study is completed. In the main study the technical and economic feasibility is confirmed, the traffic volume is estimated, the operational concept defined and network options are tested. Thus the basis for the beginning of the industrial development has been created.
Several further researches on the topics of the main study are carried out and published.
At the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne the MAGLEV Conference on magnetic levitation technology takes place. In the framework of this conference, research on Swissmetro is presented to the international scientific community.
Swissmetro AG submits the request for an additional concession for the line Geneva – Lausanne to the Federal Council. Core issue is the affordability. At the request of the Federal Council, Swissmetro AG also conducts a technical and economic feasibility study for the line Basel - Zurich with extension to the two airports.
During the summer the project HISTAR is started at the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. In this project the mathematical models of the main study and its later researches are reviewed and tested with three-dimensional simulations. The Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the foundation Numexia and the HES Fribourg cooperate in the project HISTAR. The project is financed by the Swiss federal innovation promotion agency (CTI) and the private industry.
In the National Coucil, Pascale Bruderer (SP), Walter Jermann (CVP) and Pierre Triponez (FDP) submit advances attempting to bring the project Swissmetro forward. In its response, the Federal Council notes that it regards Swissmetro as a research project but does not have sufficient resources to support Swissmetro.
Prof. Ulrich Weidmann of the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich publishes a case study for the Swissmetro. Because of the high investment costs and long construction period, he concludes that the Swissmetro is not economically viable in European long-haul lines. Swissmetro AG does not share this view, believing that the study was based partly on false assumptions, and numbers from the main study were not correctly adopted.
The project carried out by means of numerical simulations by the foundation Numexia in collaboration with the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne is completed.
At Pro Swissmetro, Martin Heusi takes over as president together with a motivated team in the managing committee.
A part-time employee begins to promote the project again from the basis on behalf of Pro Swissmetro. In a first phase the activities are concentrated mainly on the online presence and social networks.
In November, Swissmetro AG decides to go into liquidation. The reason for the dissolution is the lack of financial resources allowing to continue the operation of the company. The Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne takes over the archive and knowhow of the Swissmetro AG and is prepared to maintain and actively administer it.
The collaboration with Pro Swissmetro will be continued.
On 24th of August 2010 the project files of Swissmetro AG are moved from PricewaterhouseCoopers Bern (the former staffed office of Swissmetro AG) to the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.