Liechtenstein rejected a new railway connection in a referendum last year. Rightly so! Modern-day mobility challenges need 21st-century solutions.

Last year in August, Liechtenstein voters have opposed plans to fund a new international railway link between Austria and Switzerland. The proposal was rejected by 60% of voters. The track would have been doubled and a central railway station at Nendeln upgraded so international trains could stop there. Liechtenstein would have paid half the construction costs to the tune of more than €60m.

The Landtag voted in June in favor of the rail expansion plan, but it was rejected in a referendum by the people. Costs were the overriding concern. But still, traffic overload remains an issue, and infrastructure needs to be updated. The No-vote for the railway has also launched a debate about the mobility of the future.

Mobility is changing fast

City planning is changing. It’s not only about how to build the best streets, rails, and cycle trails, but it’s about properly preparing for a shift in social and economic trends. The main keyword here is digitalization. The way and the frequency of our commute will change.

One trend that has already picked up steam is the home office. A large part of Liechtenstein’s workforce are office workers. Commuters from neighboring Germany, Switzerland, and Austria are mostly office workers as well. That’s not to say that none of these people will in the future have to travel to Liechtenstein anymore, but it’s likely that traffic will considerably decline. Even if people stay home only two out of five days in their work week, that would already make a significant difference for Liechtenstein’s infrastructure.

Mobility concepts are changing, too: Car sharing is becoming more popular, which will also cut road traffic. Drone mobility and hyper-loops may be the future, but that’s too far out. Four people sharing one car organized through a mobile app; that’s already a reality today.

So the proposed railway doesn’t really fit into today’s city planning and mobility concepts. It was rightfully rejected. Not because of the costs, €60m are not an unreasonable investment if it actually improves connectivity and infrastructure, but a railway does not. Instead, the government needs to invest the money into future mobility concepts.

One example is the mobility connect app developed by digital-Liechtenstein.li. It bundles the offerings of different mobility providers in one app, making it easy for users to choose what’s best for them. Folks traveling in and to Liechtenstein will in the future need one single app to organize their trip. The city of Vaduz agrees to provide a one-time sum of CHF 150,000 and annual payments of CHF 50,000 until 2023 to support the app. Now that’s a smart mobility investment that is suited to modern times.

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