Tunnels being built under Switzerland for e-commerce deliveries – CST

A group of Swiss companies plans to build a network of tunnels between the major cities of the country specifically to deliver parcels to e-commerce customers. Cargo Sous Terrain (CST) will start off with a 70km tunnel between Härkingen-Niederbipp and Zurich, to be completed by 2030.

The concept sounds expensive and very ambitious but would tackle a number of problems that e-commerce delivery as a whole is posing. Earlier this week Apex Insight reported on how overall UK traffic congestion is increasing due to the numbers of delivery vehicles on the roads, and taking parcel delivery underground would tackle this immediately. With the vehicles underground being electric they are zero emissions too – another issue raised with e-commerce is the pollution.

Where the parcels will be delivered to hubs in Swiss cities and towns, they can be either picked up at a click & collect point, or delivered by zero emission vehicles to the customer’s door. CST President Peter Sutterlüti has been quoted as saying that the planned new tunnel system will “stand the world of logistics on its head”. The vehicles travelling 50 metres underground will be autonomous so where there will be a major initial outlay, operating expenses will be minimised with drivers being taken out of the cost equation.

The system will feature a “suspended upper rail for rapid parcel delivery” which will travel at around 60km and cater to the express e-commerce delivery market. The delivery vehicles will travel at 30km/h but though not breaking records for speed they won’t run into congestion at peak times and projected timings for delivery would be accurate as a result.

A number of innovations are being suggested to tackle delivery for e-commerce. Where the concept of drones is being much touted, these are almost as unlikely to succeed as the idea of building tunnels around countries to deliver parcels to customers!

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