Switzerland Plans For Zero Air Pollution Travel

BMW's electric i3 car costs about Rs 25 lakh, without import duties.

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Switzerland Plans For Zero Air Pollution Travel

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Dimitri Burkhard was one of 150 people selected to test the year-long project.

Zurich:  Imagine getting from home to work without a carbon footprint, whether one is traveling by train, car or bike. Switzerland has envisioned it, put it to test and is on verge of making it an option for every citizen. By 2022, the Green Class Project could become a part of Swiss lifestyle, so every single citizen could travel without causing any pollution.

At the centre of the plan is BMW's electric i3 car and premium high speed electric cycles.

In Bern, Fabian Scherrer, the manager of the project told NDTV, "the idea was to combine environmental modes of transport from the rail and on the road and offer both in one package".

The Swiss Federal Railways is behind the project and the Swiss people, who voted for a lifestyle without a carbon footprint, own it. "Our customers are also our owners so they have a high impact. They want us to be sustainable. We really want to establish this as a lifestyle," said Mr Fabian.  

So how does it work? One high-class ticket for a year will allow one to take any form of public transport Switzerland offers -- including ships and cable cars.

Dimitri Burkhard was one of 150 people selected to test the year-long project. Under it, he gets a first class ticket for unlimited use of Switzerland's rail network, the BMW i3 electric car and two sharing platforms for cars and bicycles.  

The high-tech car costs about Rs 25 lakh, without import duties. But one can use that and the rest for a fraction of that cost -- Rs 8 lakh. Those selected for the project say it is still cheap. "I spend 17,000 francs on average a year. This package (12,000 francs) is a deal for me," said one of the candidates.

After driving the BMW i3 car, Mr Burkhard said his life has changed. "I used to ride a gas guzzler, a normal petrol car. We sold it. Because after driving an electric car you really don't want to go back," he said. "It has changed my life because it made me think a lot more about the impact our choices have on the environment."

The premium electric cycles that could be on offer for this project are made by a company called Stromer. They could help people cross first and the last stretch of a journey - from home to a train station and the station to destination. The cycle's battery allows one to hit speeds of up to 45 km per hour.

The ST2 version of the cycle costs about Rs 7 lakh and the ST1 costs about Rs 5 lakh - the difference in price is due to the sizes of batteries and accessories like break lights, head light and electronic gear shifting.

Such bikes, though, won't be in India any time soon. Liam O'Brien, the Head of Business development, Stromer E Bikes, indicated that India doesn't have the infrastructure for cycles that operate at such high speeds. Shipping the cycle's big battery is a challenge, since it is considered dangerous.

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