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Switzerland's Underground Cargo Delivery System

The dream of a new and ambitious mode of freight transportation just took a big leap towards reality in Switzerland.

Cargo Sous Terrain cargo pods
Cargo Sous Terrain

Planning stages have commenced to build an automated tunnel network that would transport cargo in special pods on a self-charging rail system. Cargo Sous Terrain (CST), or ‘Underground Cargo,’ will begin with a 46 mile (70 km) stretch between Zurich and a major logistics hub in Härkingen/Niederbipp. It could grow to as many as 310 miles of tunnels (500 km) connecting all the Swiss cantons.

Run on renewable energy, the project is expected to take 40 percent of all freight-bearing traffic off the roads. That alone would be good news. But CST also offers a sustainable solution as the cargo pods will receive ongoing electric charges as they move along the induction rails. In a further demonstration of Swiss ingenuity, a similar set of tracks would run on the tunnel ceilings for transporting baskets of smaller parcels.

Graphic illustrating Swiss underground cargo network

The tunnels will be around 20 feet (6m) in diameter, and the pods will be big enough for a pallet or two, with refrigerated ones to carry temperature-sensitive goods. At the terminals, large elevators will pull the pods and podlets out of the gloom and up into fulfilment centers.

No government funding is being applied to the project, so investors will have to find $35 billion in investment to finish the whole project by 2045.

Watch the concept video from CST:


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