Last week some 70 residents of Walchwil attended an information evening at which experts from the SBB explained about the major engineering works which are to affect the railway on the eastern shore of Lake Zug between Oberwil, Walchwil and Arth-Goldau.
Locals gathered at the Aesch restaurant to hear what the experts had to say. As previously reported, rail services on this line are to be suspended for 18 months from Sunday 9 June onwards to allow for a 1.7-kilometre additional track to be laid in addition to the SBB renovating further 80 items of railway infrastructure, i.e. tunnels, bridges and subways in a project costing CHF 200 million.
As to the format of the evening, SBB spokeswoman Jasmin Huwyler explained that it had been decided not to give an overall presentation of the project, as some of the locals present had hoped for, on the grounds that the questions raised were very specific.
However, there was a map of the area highlighting all the various works involved, though apparently these were not always easy to understand. Responding to various questions, Pius Bregy, a senior engineering official, explained, for example, that there would be no work done at night time in the Walchwil area, going on to explain how the existing tracks were to be removed prior to the new ones being laid, which, he added, “was quite a logistical challenge” with 14 kilometres of track affected.
Another local resident wanted to know if access to his property would be affected and whether new fences would be built. One person wanted to know about when explosives would be used as another asked if a commuter ferry service to Zug had been considered; it hadn’t. It is only natural that, with more people using their own cars to get to Zug during this period that congestion would build up and there were concerns expressed about this, too. “And who do we asked if public transport connections do not work as planned?” piped up another. Fortunately, also present on the occasion was Christian Baumgartner, also of the SBB, who spoke about the replacement bus services and alterations to the timetable. For example, the S2 suburban railway service is to be replaced by a half-hourly bus service to Zug, the number 5. “The first week is surely to be a challenge,” admitted Baumgartner, “but we will review the situation and adapt services accordingly. The best thing is for those affected to consult the www.sbb.ch/zugeersee website.”
Might there be another information evening?
“None is planned,” said Huwyler, who, along with her SBB colleagues, was a bit taken by surprise by the critical tone of the questions. “However, every three or four months we are organising a sort of “engineering works café” in order to be able to answer any further aspects which may arise.”
Many locals left concerned that commuting from their sub-tropical lakeside paradise of Walchwil might not be quite the same for some time.
This article is based on one by Rahel Hug.