Feasibility and economic impact of constructing a tunnel between Göschenen and Tujetsch-Disentis

In the interest of improving the accessibility of the Upper Surselva region in Switzerland so as to promote economic development, EBP was commissioned to conduct a study of the feasibility of building either a road or railway tunnel between Sedrun and Göschenen and to assess the economic impact of such a project on the region.

EBP first carried out a study to determine the feasibility of building a road or railway tunnel between Sedrun and Göschenen. It then analyzed the economic potential of a tunnel in light of the region’s particular needs. While the issue of whether the tunnel should be a road or a rail tunnel was intentionally left open in the context of EBP’s initial assessment, the differences between the options are to be evaluated during the course of the study.

Regional needs

In the framework of the Agenda 2030 development program, local officials and business leaders have formulated a set of strategic goals for their region. These goals include a revitalization of the region’s tourism industry, the development of the region’s real estate market, the introduction of new regional services and export-oriented commercial activities, the establishment of a more dependable and efficient energy supply and an optimization of the region’s transportation network.

While a tunnel from Göschenen to Tujetsch and Disentis/Mustér is not a central part of the future strategy, a tunnel link to the west and north could indeed play an important role in the realization of the strategy.

11 viable tunnel options

We worked out 11 tunnel options for the route from Göschenen to Tujetsch and Disentis/Mustér that were then deemed feasible in the context of a subsequent evaluation. In addition to this, we ascertained the investments that would be necessary and the degree to which each option improved access to the relevant locations, paying special attention to travel times to the various places of work.

Impact on the regional economy and the region’s general attractiveness

The added value for the region was ascertained on the basis of economic analyses and the use of traffic models. The results showed that the ratio of added value to total investments for a tunnel is low. This then made it essential to consider the project in a larger cantonal and national context.

Cantonal and national context

An examination of existing development proposals up for consideration at the cantonal and national level indicates that the project is very unlikely to be accorded cantonal or national priority. This means that the prospects of subsidization would depend on the ability of the project’s local supporters to conduct an especially effective lobbying campaign at the cantonal and national level.

Initial evaluation and recommendations

We used an initial evaluation as a basis for recommending further, more in-depth assessments of the situation, should the regional representatives be interested in pursuing these courses of action. However, a comparison with other transportation projects that have been proposed in the canton indicates that the present project is likely to be ranked as a B-project or even a C-project. This means that it is unlikely to come up for immediate consideration and may not be considered at all. EBP is also of the opinion that the project also does not meet the relevant planning criteria established by the government and is not in line with its development goals.

We have therefore recommended the implementation of other projects that can be realized relatively quickly using resources already available to the region.