New Swiss rail timetable speeds up cross-border trips

The FV-Dosto double-decker trains between Geneva and St Gallen via Fribourg and Bern (pictured) should provide more capacity and comfort. © Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

Next year the train connections from Switzerland to Germany and Italy will be faster.

This content was published on August 26, 2020 - 17:36

On Wednesday the Swiss Federal Railways unveiled the timetable for 2021. In addition to various inland tweaks, the new schedule brings swifter links from Zurich to Milan (3:17) and Munich (ca. 4hrs). From Zurich there will be ten direct trains to Milan; from Basel, five. The capacity for the Zurich-Munich connection will be doubled from three to six trains per day.

There will also be two direct trains per hour from Lucerne to Zurich Airport. Overall, the new schedule, effective as of December 13, will mean about 1.4% more regional and long-distance trains in operation.

However, the coronavirus pandemic will make it a challenge for the railways to fully implement the timetable. And in addition to interrupted construction work, the railways also face a shortage of 210 train drivers. This means that on weekdays, some 200 out of 9,000 trains will be cancelled.

As the railways told the media on Wednesday, the staff shortage is down to Covid-19 measures that postponed training for new drivers. Courses running from November to May 2021 should reduce the shortage to 110 drivers.

Following a downturn in numbers during the Covid-19 lockdown, passenger trains are now filled to about 70-75% of their capacity.

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