One small step for a tram…

It’s now just over a month since the No-18 tram arrived at CERN, and it has already changed the face of the Laboratory. We will soon be able to enjoy a period free of road works in front of the Meyrin site, but it’s unlikely to last long, since the tram line is set to be extended across the border into France within the next few years.


That first tram, which arrived at CERN full of representatives of our local authorities on 30 April, can justly be thought of as a herald for major changes to come, both tangible and symbolic.

Tangibly, CERN is now linked to central Geneva by a regular and reliable service in 20 minutes, and with the line scheduled to be extended across the border into France, and a large park and ride facility planned for St Genis, we can also look forward to much improved public transport for those commuting from the Pays de Gex into Geneva.

Symbolically, CERN is the gateway between France and Switzerland, and an interface between science and society. The tram, coupled with other plans for the development of the region between entrances A and B, gives us a unique opportunity to transform that area into a convivial public space and an important cultural focus for the region.

As a foretaste of things to come, we already have the InGrid park in front of Building 33, generously offered to CERN by the Canton of Geneva and scheduled to remain for three years. By the time InGrid moves on, we should start to see the new permanent public face of CERN taking shape. This week, the architects of the Globe, Hervé Dessimoz’s firm, Group H, and landscape artists Charles and Lily Jencks presented us with plans for a development of ancillary buildings worked into a stunning landscape representing the story of the Universe. This cannot be fully funded from CERN’s core budget, but we are now embarking on a concerted fundraising campaign. In parallel, the Canton of Geneva has put up 5 MCHF for an architectural competition to develop the zone bordering the road, and we’re also looking at opening CERN’s first particle accelerator, the SC, to the public.

All these things are happening as part of a coordinated plan for the border region between France, Geneva and Vaud. CERN’s position on one of those frontiers makes us a natural focal point for the project, putting us exactly where we should be: at the heart of our region’s development, both physically and culturally. That’s one giant leap for CERN, and it all began with one small step for a tram.


Rolf Heuer