Assessing Feasibility of Transport Megaprojects: Swissmetro European Market Study

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - europe, mode - rail, mode - subway/metro, mode - subway/metro


Underground railways, Switzerland, Subways, Railroad transportation, Rail transportation, Rail transit, Megaprojects, Market assessment, Magnetic suspension, Magnetic levitation, High speed trains, High speed ground transportation, Feasibility analysis, Europe, Electromagnetic suspension, Air pressure


Results of the Swissmetro European Market Study are presented. Swissmetro is a proposed high-speed passenger ground transportation system that would operate magnetically levitated trains in underground tunnels with reduced air pressure by using linear motor technology. The market study considered the market feasibility of constructing Swissmetro on potential European corridors. It evaluated technology, market conditions, European policy, investment costs, and risks associated with the project. The study conclusion was that there is not sufficient market potential for the Swissmetro system in European long-distance transport. The main problems with Swissmetro identified in the study were the long time necessary to bring the technology to commercial deployment; the lack of obvious corridors (most high-demand corridors will be served by high-speed rail by 2020); strong competition from other modes, such as air and high-speed rail; European Union policy of supporting an interoperable system of rail lines; Swissmetro’s high capital and operating costs—plus the risk that these costs may be significantly underestimated—and Swissmetro’s long construction time.