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Swiss Federal Railways Rail cargo flagging, Swiss Pass to save money

Tough times for cargo services


Poor figures are a worry for the cargo division of the Swiss Federal Railways. Yet the Swiss Pass could save money in the passenger branch.

In an interview with the newspaper Le Matin Dimanche, Swiss Federal Railways CEO Andreas Meyer said he expected the cargo business to lose CHF30 million ($32 million) this year. In March, he had predicted CHF20 million. But in May alone, the volume of goods transported in Switzerland went down by 5% compared with the previous year.

“We’re very worried,” Meyer told Le Matin Dimanche, noting that the federal railways planned to become more competitive. “We’ll have to sell services abroad in order to reduce our losses, and we’ll have to improve our productivity.”

Earlier this week, it was announced that workers in the federal railways’ cargo branch would have to work another 18 minutes per day in an effort to counteract the effects of the strong franc. In exchange, they were promised job and salary security through the end of 2017.

Meyer also cited the problem of high infrastructure charges. Starting in 2017, the government will raise the fee for accessing the tracks by CHF100 million – having just raised it by CHF250 million not that long ago.

“If we continue to raise prices like this, we’ll reach a point that is no longer acceptable for our customers,” warned Meyer.

Pilloud promotes Swiss Pass

Meanwhile, most passengers will appreciate the new Swiss Pass being introduced on August 1, says Jeannine Pilloud, head of federal railways’ passenger division.

In an interview with the newspaper Sonntagszeitung, Pilloud explained that initially, the credit-card sized pass would only store GA and half-fare travelcard information. Later, it will be possible to include any and all tickets for transport in Switzerland.

“All the transport associations want to be included. But transferring the customer data is quite time-consuming,” Pilloud said. A parallel solution for smartphones is expected for 2016 or 2017.

The new system will save money by eliminating the need for new cards to be made each year – though Pilloud says this wasn’t the main idea behind the Swiss Pass.

The system could also be applied to services such as car- and bike-sharing, ski lift and concert tickets, and other attractions.

“These organisations will pay a membership fee to join the Swiss Pass system, thus helping to keep ticket prices for public transport down,” Pilloud said.

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