Switzerland’s national rail service is exploring a futuristic plan to provide a flying taxi service to passengers.
The Schweizerische Bundesbahnen or SBB is in talks with German company Lilium GmbH to develop air taxis to transport customers from rail stations to destinations, Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported Sunday. A prototype flying vehicle that can carry as many as five passengers already exists.
“The SBB and the airline taxi company Lilium are currently engaged in talks on cooperation,” SBB spokesman Raffael Hirt told SonntagsZeitung. The parties have already signed a letter of intent, Hirt said.
The electric taxis are envisioned to take off and land vertically without the need for a runway, SonntagsZeitung reported.
The exact role the SBB could play in the joint venture hasn’t been determined. The rail service could be a marketer of the air taxi service or a co-operator of the flight operations.
Political opposition to the ambitious plans is already mounting, according to the paper.
Thierry Burkhart, a federal politician for the Free Democratic Party of Switzerland and transport commissioner said the SBB’s plans were “strange and irritating.”
Christoph Neuhaus, a Swiss People’s Party politician and director of public works, transport and energy to the Executive Council of the Canton of Bern said the “SBB, as a public service company for rail transport, should solve major problems by rail instead of jumping into utopian air traffic plans. ”
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