The number of passengers travelling with the Swiss Federal Railways declined for the first time last year, primarily due to a downturn in tourism and leisure travel. Trains carried 967,000 passengers a day in 2012, compared with 977,000 in 2011.
Whereas leisure and tourist travel were down, business and commuter travel continued to grow, Federal Railways spokesman Daniele Pallecchi confirmed on Tuesday.
In spite of the decline in leisure travel, the number of kilometres travelled by passengers on international routes increased by roughly six per cent, in particular on the route between Zurich and Paris and the Rhine Valley route to Germany.
Switzerland has the world’s most densely used rail network, serving five million unique customers in 2012.
In addition, the railways carried around 175,000 tonnes of freight last year. This was a drop of almost two per cent over 2011 and was attributed to the downturn in the European economy and a reduction in the capacity of Swiss industries, in particular paper and metalworking.
Other issues facing the Swiss Federal Railways in 2012 were track maintenance, protection of passengers and employees from acts of violence, installation of the high-tech European Train Control System in the first of 11,000 locations, and work on the Gotthard Base Tunnel, scheduled to open in 2016.
Federal Railways Chief Executive Officer Andreas Mayer stressed that the opening of the new tunnel would serve as a unique opportunity to present public transport as the embodiment of the Swiss values of innovation and reliability.