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NewsletterJanuary 2010

Snowy Day in the French Alps

Snow in La Roche sur Foron France.

and very cold -15°C (5°F)!

CEVA Rail Link

Last month I talked about a new local hospital being built. Well it looks like there will be more construction in the future. Geneva voters approved a SFr113 million ($112 million) bond measure that will help fund construction of what is locally known as CEVA.
CEVA stands for Cornavin – Eaux-Vives – Annemasse, and will provide a rail link between Eaux-Vives station in Geneva and the city’s main train station - Cornavin. At present Eaux-Vives is a rundown dead end for all trains coming in from Annemasse in France, the hub for trains arriving from the Haute-Savoie department. If you look at a map of Geneva you will notice that the city is a peninsula surrounded by France. To the north is the Ain Department and to the south the Haute-Savoie department. The Haute-Savoie department is where I live and also where many frontaliers (crossborder workers) live.
You will also notice there isn’t much land around Geneva hence; many of the city’s suburbs are in France. About 40,000 cars enter Geneva each day from France, many coming from Haute-Savoie. One web site I read estimated that by 2020 there would be 50% increase in the flow of people into Geneva. The greater Geneva region is known as the agglomération franco-valdo-genevoise with about 800,000 inhabitants (2/3 live in Switzerland and 1/3 in France). This is expected to grow to a million by 2030.
It’s hoped that the CEVA will relieve traffic congestion and cut down on commuting time. Geneva has a good public transportation system but Eaux-Vives station users aren't able to take full advantage of this. Most frontaliers drive cars, resulting in bottlenecks at border crossings during rush hour. Roads and highways in the region weren’t built to handle the amount of traffic there is today. The trend in Switzerland is towards public transportation, to relieve congestion. Geneva is in the process of building another tram line and Lausanne recently built a subway.
CEVA will also offer a direct connection between the SNCF (French National Railways) and the CFF (Swiss Railway system). Also helped will be those using trains to access the French Alps from the Geneva Airport. At present someone would need about 3 hours (or more) to get from the Geneva Airport to anywhere near a ski resort in the French Alps.
CEVA has been a long time in the making. The idea dates back to 1850! Much of the problem lies in the fact that the region CEVA will serve is in two countries – France and Switzerland and five territorial authorities - the French departments Ain and Haute-Savoie, the Swiss cantons of Geneva and Vaud (where Lausanne is located) and the French region of Rhône-Alpes. Meaning getting everyone to agree on something like a budget and financing isn’t easy. If all goes as planned CEVA will be operational by 2016.
Wikipedia has a good article about the CEVA with a map.
Other related links:
CEVA Official website
Franco-Vaud-Geneva conurbation
Lake Geneva Region : Franco-Vaud-Geneva metropolitan area project (F/CH)

English Speakers Association

During all my time in France I’ve been a member of many associations but I never helped start one. Well that’s changed. Along with other English speakers in the area where I live, we have created the English Speakers Association. It is early days but we have lots of ideas! For more info please see our web site - English Speakers Association of Haute-Savoie.

Skiing in France

Just a reminder that my good friend, Mike Beaudet, aka Megeve Mike, is ready to help with your skiing needs. Should you be a beginner or advanced, Mike will make skiing even more enjoyable. Mike is based in Megeve very close to the Mont Blanc, for more info see - Ski Pros Megeve.

Soldes d'Hiver 2010

The winter sales (Soldes d'Hiver) in France start on January 6th and last five weeks depending on the department.

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