connect, grow & thrive.

News Roundup

Here are this week’s headlines:

Monday February 26

The Olympics finished yesterday and the Swiss didn’t too badly ending in place 8 with 5 gold, 6 silver and 4 bronze medals. Central Switzerland sportsmen and women contributed 3 gold, 1 silver and a bronze medal as well as 10 Olympic diplomas. Norway was the clear leader, they put their success down to encouraging children to do sports and ensuring that up until the age of 12 there are no sports competition so as not to deter anyone. Considering that today it was announced that the millennial generation will be the most obese ever with an estimated 7 out of 10 people being obese by middle age, encouraging children to do more sports doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

The case of a future underground train station is back on the table again. Central Switzerland can now count on Bern and Basel’s backing in this project which would cost 3,3 billion francs. The government has yet to see the benefit to Switzerland as a whole with this project. But Central Switzerland is arguing that it would link all the regions by offering the possibility for more trains to travel to and from Lucerne. As usual this is a long term project with a best case scenario opening scheduled for 2038.

As of March 5 expect to see lots of renovation work downtown. The Löwengraben/Grendel area will be renovated and the whole street from Bucherer up to Heini will be turned into a pedestrian zone with new paving stones being put down and benches being added. The project will cost an estimated 3,7 million francs and it will be finished in July 2019.

Saying of the day: Es zieht eim as Füdli! it’s friggin cold!

Tuesday February 27

After we experienced the warmest month of January on record, this is now the coldest February in the last 30 years. If it‘s any consolation, the „Beast from the East“ is affecting the whole European continent. The temperatures are set to remain this cold until Wednesday whilst this Sunday we will be enjoying a mild 10 degrees. So brace yourselves for a couple more Siberian cold days!

As we mentioned yesterday, there is much talk about a new train station for Luzern. Seeing as the current train station experienced another malfunction yesterday morning after two trains broke down resulting in many trains either being cancelled or late, a new train station may not be such a bad idea after all!

Good news for travellers flying from Zürich airport, as of April 1st you will be able to have your luggage picked up at your home and delivered to the airport for you. This service known as „door to door check-in“ will first be offered if you are flying with Swiss or Edelweiss. Another service which is being expanded is handing your luggage at the train station. This service is being offered in 160 train stations, but does not include check-in. You can drop your suitcase off the day before and pick it up at the airport where you can then check it in. This is service is available regardless of which airline you are flying with.

Saying of the day: Bisch es Gfrörli. You’re easily cold.

Wednesday February 28

It looks like the city council has finally found a solution for the parking of coaches in the city. They should be rerouted to the Allmend region, which not only has enough room for many coaches but also is easily accessible from the city. This solution would free up the Schwanenplatz and the problem of having coaches parking in the old town. Fingers crossed this decision will be approved shortly.

Spring is just around the corner, no really. It might seem hard to believe but the city is already preparing for the warm days ahead and planning to not only refurbish the current 1300 benches found all around the city but add an extra 40. Soon we will be able to enjoy the sun (and warmth) whilst sitting on freshly painted wooden benches.

We all know that insurance premiums cost a lot as does any hospital stay, but did you know that the ambulance ride can be just as onerous? A person was charged CHF 2600.- for a 62 kilometre drive in an ambulance. It turns out that costs vary greatly from canton to canton with St Gallen charging the most at CHF 2144 for 50 km to Aargau charging the least at CHF 950.-, at CHF 1565 Lucerne is amongst the top 10 most expensive cantons; worth thinking about when you are deciding which insurance company to choose.

Saying of the day: Spinnst? Are you crazy?

Thursday March 1

It’s springtime! At least in the meteorological calendar. The big freeze should come to an end today and we will, hopefully, be enjoying more clement weather in the coming days.

If at first you don‘t succeed, then try and try again. That seems to be what the towns of Hitzkirche and Altwis are thinking. After a first round of talks about the fusion of the two towns fell through in 2004, the towns have decided to give this idea another go. It seems like most of the decision makers have changed in the last 14 years and the new civil servants are more open towards the idea. But patience! What this really means is that they will put a study group together and if the result of the study is positive then they will put this to a vote in….2021.

Good news if you own or are planning to own an electric car, in the coming weeks there will be 6 quick electric battery recharging spots at the highway stop Luzern-Neuenkirch. This is an initiative by several car companies who plan to install 400 such stations in 18 country in the coming 2 years, thus enabling electric cars who currently have an average range of 350 kms of going further. The trend for electric cars continues to grow with a 50% increase in the last year in the canton of Lucerne. More and more loading stations are being put into place, underscoring the country‘s policy of having only electric cars on the roads in the near future.

Do not be surprised if you hear the alarm sirens ringing all over the country again between now and June. During the last test, which took place beginning of February, a software fault was found. This has now been fixed and the sirens will need to be tested once again to make sure that everything is working properly. We will share the date and time with you as soon as it is made known.

Catholics can rejoice as Pope Francis has planned a visit to Switzerland on June 21st. This will be the first papal visit since 2014. Unfortunately he will not be coming to Lucerne but will be visiting Geneva.

Saying of the day: Es schneielet! It‘s snowing!

Friday March 2

Have you ever stopped to wonder how the roads and walkways once cleared of snow don’t turn to ice? Salt gets sprayed onto them. This neat and simple solution works well and is widespread, but too much salt is bad for the environment, killing off plants and rusting cars. Which is why Kriens is currently looking at investing in machines that would spray a liquid called Sole which has a lower percentage of salt in it. There is a snag though, the liquid can only be put down until temperatures reach minus 2, anything more than that and the product freezes. Kriens argues that it can be used as a preventing solution, and the salt only be put down when temperatures reach any lower. Other towns, such as Ebikon, argue that this is too costly so won‘t even be considering it. In the meantime remember to wash your car once the snow has gone to prevent it from getting damaged.

Last year 107 underage girls were forced to get married in Switzerland. This practice has been made illegal since 2013 but because these marriages are done in private or in a religious contexts the administration only finds out about them through chance. Very often the girls who refuse these marriages are then ostracized by their own communities. In principal should the marriage have taken place outside of the country then it is annuled when the couple move to Switzerland, but there is a debate whether this should be the absolute rule or whether each case should be reviewed separately.

More and more expat children are going to the „kantis“ high schools. This has been made noticeable in Zug, where the director of the Kanti explains that children from expat backgrounds do have more needs such as taking German as a second language classes, or having to make an extra effort to integrate the classes. But overall the children are treated the same as Swiss kids and have to prove their worth just as the local kids do.

Saying of the day: „Bisch doof?“ Are you stupid?

Charlie Hartmann is the managing director of the Living in Luzern organisation which focuses on helping international residents connect, grow and thrive in Switzerland.