Voters in the Swiss city of Geneva have approved a plan to connect its Cornavin station in Eaux Vives with the French town of Annemasse.

The railway, named CEVA, would be the first link between Swiss national train services and the neighbouring France and is expected to open in 2016.

The railway would allow passengers to reach Geneva’s centre from the French border in nearly 20 minutes and is expected to cater to nearly 900,000 people in Geneva.

The $1.6bn (SFr1.6bn) project would be funded by federal money, contributing 57% of the funds, and the remainder by the canton of Geneva.

The voters’ approval also provides for an extra credit of $112m (SFr113m) for the rail project, which has been under planning for nearly a century.