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Rail bosses pay for delays with smaller bonuses

The entire Swiss train system collapsed in June leaving thousands of commuters stranded Keystone

The chairman of the board of the Swiss Federal Railways has criticised the delays besetting the train network, and says there will be consequences.

Thierry Lalive d’Epinay told a Sunday newspaper that top management would have to accept cuts in their bonuses and warned of further job losses.

The Federal Railways had serious problems sticking to its timetable because trains on major lines were often late, he told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

Lalive d’Epinay also admitted that the information service for passengers was unsatisfactory.

He said it was consistent to reduce bonuses for the top management if the state-run company missed its strategic and financial target for 2005.

“The bonuses will certainly be smaller than in the previous year,” Lalive d’Epinay said.

Not on time

For his part, chief executive Benedikt Weibel told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper that he agreed with the planned cuts.

“We have to ensure that more than 95 per cent of the trains run on time on a daily basis. It is not good enough if we achieve this aim only at weekends.”

Nearly a year ago the Federal Railway introduced a new timetable with 12 per cent more trains.

The railways were also hit by a series of power failures, including the collapse of the entire network for several hours in June.

Cost cutting

Lalive d’Epinay also said the Federal Railways was heading for a considerable deficit this year because of costly operations and reserves for the company retirement fund.

He did not exclude further job cuts to reduce costs.

“We are trying to be more efficient without shedding personnel. But if necessary we will reduce staff in the railway administration,” he added.

Last week the freight division of the Federal Railways announced it was axing 650 jobs.

swissinfo with agencies

The Federal Railways transports about 253 million passengers and 58 million metric tons of freight per year.
Almost 800 stations across the country have hourly or half-hourly train services.
In 2004 the Federal Railways had a workforce of more than 28,300, down 1.2% on 2003.
The state-run company posted half-year losses of SFr36.6 million ($28.6 million).

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR