In a broadband ISDN system where each switching node is connected to each adjacent node by a transmission line having communication links and a service link, the switching node comprises a self-routing network for routing a cell from an input to an output of the network according to a virtual path identifier it contains. Static connections are established between communication links and the routing network by a digital cross-connect system. A virtual path memory stores data indicating link-to-link connections associated with normal virtual paths and link-to-link connections associated with alternate virtual paths. A fault detector is coupled to the communication links to detect a link failure. If a link failure occurs, a fault message is transmitted to adjacent switching nodes through service links, and data corresponding to the faulty link is retrieved from the memory in response to a fault message that is received from the fault detector or from an adjacent node. The cross-connect system is controlled in accordance with the retrieved data so that the route of the cells is switched from a normal virtual path to an alternate virtual path.