French strike puts a damper on first run of Léman Express

When completed, the Léman Express service will cover 45 stations and 230 kilometres of track in France and Switzerland. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

The inaugural train service of the cross-border Léman Express service from Switzerland was only able to make it as far as Geneva due to strikes in France.

This content was published on December 15, 2019

The first train of the Léman Express left the town of Coppet on Lake Geneva on Sunday at 05:03. But because of the strike in France, it was not able to reach Annemasse and had to terminate in Geneva instead. Hailed as the largest cross-border regional rail network in Europe, The Léman Express covers 45 stations and 230 kilometres of track in France and Switzerland. The network will offer a fast cross-city rail link between Geneva’s central train station, Cornavin, and Annemasse in France, and extend into canton Vaud in Switzerland and the Haute-Savoie and Ain regions in France.

On its Sunday inaugural service, however, only a quarter of the trains from Switzerland will make it to Annemasse in France due to the strikes there. Despite the setback, those behind the project were happy that it had finally become a reality after years of struggle. The outgoing head of the Swiss Federal Railways Andreas Meyer called it a historic event.

"This is the most complex project I have ever had to implement," he said. Dealing with many regulations, technical components and worksites, meant it took Swiss and French partners eight years of work on the CEVA segment (Cornavin/Eaux-Vives/Annemasse) for the Léman Express.

Once fully operational, officials estimate that 50,000 people will take one of the 40 Léman Express trains criss-crossing the network every day. They say the new rail network should help cut road traffic and commuting times. Currently, almost half a million vehicles cross Geneva’s borders from France and canton Vaud every day, snarling up local roads in rush hour. 

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