Coronavirus hits Swiss train passenger numbers

Waiting for departure in Olten, northwestern Switzerland. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

The number of people taking trains in Switzerland has fallen since the outbreak of the coronavirus, resulting in a huge financial hit, Swiss Federal Railways reported on Tuesday.

This content was published on March 10, 2020 - 12:26

The number of passengers across Switzerland has fallen by 10-20%, while the number of people travelling to Italy has dropped by 90% and those going to France has fallen by 60% compared to before the virus broke out, it said.

The Federal Railways is therefore losing CHF500,000 a day, it said.

Worldwide, over 114,300 cases of coronavirus infection have been recorded in 111 countries and territories, causing the death of 4,026 people, according to a Reuters tally. Switzerland, meanwhile, recorded a third death on Tuesday due to Covid-19, an 80-year-old woman in Ticino. The number of infections crossed the 500 mark on Tuesday.

Bumper 2019

The coronavirus news came as the state-owned firm announced record figures for 2019. Last year the Federal Railways carried a total of 1.3 million passengers a day – 6% more than in 2018. It sold 124 million tickets – 15% more than in 2018 – and for the first time over half of all tickets were bought online. A total of 8.8 million reduced-price “supersaver” tickets were sold.

The number of people buying annual or half-price season passes also rose. Around 3.2 million passengers have one of these passes, or around 50% of the population.

The Federal Railways said fewer trains arrived on time (89.5%) last year, but overall customer satisfaction rose for both passenger journeys and freight. Overall the company recorded a net profit of CHF463 million in 2019 (-18% compared to 2018).

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