The Vaudois Grand Council on Tuesday supported the steps taken by the government for the Federal Council to reverse the suspension of CFF real estate projects in the canton. He unanimously accepted a resolution condemning this moratorium “to disastrous effects”.
Deeming their financial situation “very tense” because of the coronavirus, CFF announced at the end of January to suspend about thirty real estate projects throughout the country, to reduce their investments by 700 million between 2021 and 2025. Among them, two Vaud projects in Malley – Station in Prilly and Quai Ouest in Renens.
The decision angered the canton. After protests from the Council of State and the municipalities of western Lausanne, Parliament said all the harm it thought on Tuesday of this decision by approving the resolution of the PLR Marc-Olivier Buffat. Its text calls for the Council of State to intervene with CFF and the Federal Council in order to invite CFF to waive this suspension.
“A bolt from the blue”
“What is most shocking is the abrupt and unilateral nature of this moratorium suddenly decided by CFF”, denounced the PLR. “We could have imagined concerted approaches with the canton, rather than announcement effects”.
These projects are in progress. For some, building permits have already been granted. “You can’t say inch. We cannot wait 3,4,5 years for CFF to find financing solutions ”. And that’s without counting the many investments made by the municipalities concerned, by the canton and other players.
The member’s remarks were widely supported by several deputies from the West Lausanne region. They deplored an announcement disrespectful and having the effect of “a thunderclap”, for projects of great importance for the region.
Responsibility of the Federal Council
The president of the government Nuria Gorrite was delighted that the Parliament is supporting the Council of State in its efforts. The latter deplored this “very bad signal”, both towards the actors involved and from the point of view of the climate or the recovery, she said in substance.
The head of the infrastructure department recalled that this decision was made by the Federal Council and not by CFF. The latter considered that, from 2021, CFF debt should return to the current rate, ie not to exceed 6.9 times their annual cash flow. And this despite the health crisis, she stressed.
A situation which forced CFF to present a debt reduction plan. The least unfavorable, preserving staff, rolling stock and investment capacities, concerns two projects in Vaud, continued Ms. Gorrite.
“We are waiting for an answer”
The Council of State has officially written to the Federal Council asking it to “suspend the strict application of this absurd rule in times of pandemic”. But also that SBB can borrow on the traditional real estate markets, which they are prevented by another federal rule.
“We are waiting for an answer. We have also asked to be received by the head of the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication ”. In addition, the Vaudois parliamentarians should intervene by means of motions, simultaneously in the two Federal Chambers to partially lift these real estate rules.
“There is an alignment between municipalities, cantons, CFF. Majorities must be found in the Council of States and the National Council for the Federal Council to waive these rules, ”concluded the President of the Government.