What logistics of the future could look like: cargo in containers moving through underground tunnels. (Image by Cargo sous terrain).
Imagine a futuristic world where cargo moves through an underground network of tunnels – automatically, quietly and intelligently enabling just-in-time deliveries.
Cargo sous terrain (CST) is a Swiss-led consortium set to transform logistics and propel the industry into digitalisation.
CST envisions an automated, digitally controlled comprehensive logistics system in Switzerland by 2045, aimed at promoting economic competitiveness and improving quality of life. CST will ensure the safe, secure and punctual delivery of containers, pallets and parcels. At its backbone is an underground system of transport tunnels linking the business centres north of the Alps with environmentally friendly distribution in cities and industrial areas.
The first section of the tunnel system is expected to be ready in 2030 and will connect the logistics hub Härkingen-Niederbipp (near the capital Bern) with Zurich. When completed, the fully automated network will extend from Geneva to St Gallen and from Basel to Luzern, with an additional branch from Bern to Thun. The full network will have 500 km of tunnels, serving more than 80 hubs for the loading and unloading of industrial and commercial goods for about 10 million people. With 1 million square meters of surface underground, CST will be the largest warehouse in Switzerland.
“CST is the most ambitious and advanced logistics project for Switzerland in the next decades and could potentially serve as a role model for the rest of the world,” said Stefan Karlen, CEO of Panalpina, which has just become a shareholder.
CST will reduce the number of trucks on existing roads, in particular at traffic bottlenecks, by 40 per cent. Freight traffic in cities will be reduced by up to 30 per cent, thanks to the systematic and efficient delivery by electric vehicles that meet urban requirements. The system will run entirely on renewable energy. With end-to-end digitalisation, the system will operate in an extremely flexible environment, with dynamic deliveries in small units and guaranteed arrival times for goods.
The building permit and planning phase of CST will start with the passing of the CST law, expected in late 2020. As a first step, the Swiss Federal Council will open consultation on the new legislation that will allow CST to become reality.