The Swiss cabinet has announced plans to bring railway passengers’ rights in line with those offered in the European Union. Measures include a partial refund on domestic trains that are delayed by more than one hour.
Swiss trains might be renowned for punctuality, with 87.8% of users arriving on time in 2015, but passengers using domestic train services have limited options when the occasional delay does occur.
The Swiss Federal Railways introduced European refund rules for cross-border services in 2009, offering a 25% refund on the fare if trains were delayed by more than an hour and 50% for delays of over two hours.
However, this option was not extended to those undertaking domestic journeys. According to current policies, domestic passengers whose trains are delayed by more than an hour get a “Sorry Railway Voucher” worth CHF10 ($10) for second-class ticket holders and CHF15 for first class. It is a goodwill gesture and not mandatory.
The Swiss cabinet’s decision on Wednesday will ensure that domestic passengers are given the same rights as cross-border travellers. However, those in possession of an annual train pass (around 7.5% of the adult population) or a regional one will not be entitled to a refund in case of delays.
The cabinet also decided to hand over responsibility for the country’s railway infrastructure to an independent federal body. This body will also be in charge of the timetable for public transport in Switzerland but the federal railways will still draw up the schedule that underlies the timetables.
The aim of this move is to ensure that all players have equal access to the country’s railway infrastructure, thereby increasing competition. The federal railways is a private company but the government is currently the majority shareholder.
swissinfo.ch and agencies