Basel is celebrating the opening of a new rail line which connects it with the French capital in only three-and-a-half hours.
The Swiss city, which borders both Germany and France, also celebrated on Saturday the opening of the northern ring road as well as 100 years of the federal railways' station in Basel.
Moritz Leuenberger, who holds the transport portfolio, praised the new TGV (train à grande vitesse) line as the faster alternative to flying between major European cities.
From Sunday passengers will be able to board one of two new TGV trains travelling daily between Paris and Zurich and Paris and Basel, which will travel up to 320km/h between the French capital and Strasbourg, thus cutting journey times by 90 minutes.
Ralph Lewin from Basel cantonal government said the link put Basel among the main rail hubs in Europe.
Ahead of changes to the timetable in 2008 and 2009, the federal railways has planned a series of major improvements to the network that will slash journey times.
The backbone is the new Lötschberg high-speed rail link, which will open on December 9. Trains will be able to travel at speeds of up to 200kmh, shaving travel time by a third between the capital and Brig in canton Valais and up to one hour to Italy.
The Basel to Milan journey will take four hours and, by taking the new high-speed TGV via eastern France, the Paris to Milan route should be reduced.
From December 2008 new services will be offered on the Gotthard line. High-speed trains will reduce journeys between Basel and Lucerne, and Arth-Goldau and Lugano.
Elsewhere, new tilting trains will reduce travel times on the Geneva-Milan and Zurich-Milan intercity routes.
On Saturday Leuenberger also inaugurated Basel's 3.2km northern ring road, which connects the Swiss road network to France's A35 motorway.
The ring road, which took around 50 years to plan and construct, cost some SFr1.55 billion ($1.25 billion), making it the most expensive stretch of road ever built in Switzerland.
The reason for the high cost is that 2.8km of the road is underground, running through three tunnels – two of which flooded on Friday night following heavy storms.
The main route of the ring road, construction on which began in 1994, will be open to traffic in both directions on Monday. Work is not expected to be completed until next year.
A third cause for celebration in Basel on Saturday was the centenary of Basel's main train station.
The building, which federal railways head Andreas Meyer said would be boosted as a through station, was designed by architects Emil Fäsch and Emanuel La Roche and inaugurated on June 24, 1907.
swissinfo with agencies
The Swiss parliament accepted in March 2005 SFr1.09 billion to connect national railways to the European high-speed network.
Swiss connections to the TGV network are managed by Lyria, a company owned by the Swiss Federal Railways and the French national railways.
TGVs connect Paris to Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Neuchâtel, Zurich and Brig.
Switzerland is also connected to the German and Italian high-speed networks.
The Swiss are the biggest users of railways after the Japanese, travelling 1,739 kilometres on average per person.
The Swiss Federal Railways carried 275 million passengers last year.
100 million passengers travelled on the TGV network last year.
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