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Cost-savings Swiss Railways announces further job cuts by 2020

Around a million people board Swiss trains every day

(Keystone)

The state-owned rail network has announced plans for a net loss of 1,200 jobs over the next three years as part of its cost-cutting strategy.

Swiss Federal Railways says it will make 300 more job cuts than it had announced last year under its ‘RailFit20/30’ cost-savings programme. In all, 1,400 jobs are now slated to be on the chopping block by 2020 as part of efforts to save CHF1.2 billion ($1.23 billion).

The cuts over the next three years will mostly be in administrative posts, but owing to expectations of greater productivity others will be lost in the rail network, the federal railways said in a statement on Thursday.

The efficiency measures are part of a review of costs and services dubbed "RailFit20/30", first presented in November 2015, which aims at making the company more competitive and innovative, while keeping rail prices stable. At that time the network said 900 jobs might be cut.

Despite the cuts, the rail network also said it simultaneously planned to create 200 new jobs over the next three years to meet the growing number of passengers.

The company says the efficiency measures are needed to deal with the rising costs of providing new services, expensive infrastructure investments like the Zurich cross-city link, and additional maintenance work. It expects the cost of transporting passengers and goods by road to drop significantly in the medium to long term, which will require rail services to stay competitive by keeping prices down.

The Swiss transport workers' union described the cuts as “unacceptable”, adding that the efficiency measures looked like a programme aimed at “dismantling” the state-owned company.

It called for any cost-cutting measures to be spread across the board, and for the railways to consider cuts to management posts while also lowering remuneration packages.

At the end of 2015, the federal railways employed a yearly average headcount of 33,000 staff – an increase of 0.8% above the 2014 level – according to company figures.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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