European rail operators boost capacity

The new Swiss train called Giruno is the federal railways' first international long-distance train with low-floor access serving Italy, Switzerland and Germany. It is also the first Swiss train with separate restrooms for men and women. Keystone

Several European rail companies, including the Swiss Federal Railways, are expanding their network capacity to provide more options for people travelling in and out of Switzerland.

This content was published on November 23, 2019 - 12:00

The Swiss Federal Railways, along with Deutsche Bahn (DB), the French state railways SNCF and the Italian counterpart Trenitalia are offering additional international rail services to meet increased demand. Also, the Swiss and Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) plan to further develop night train services between Switzerland and Austria.

In Zurich on Saturday, the rail companies presented new trains including the ICE 4, a high-speed German train with service from Zurich and Chur, and free WLAN, starting next month. The new fleet has 20% more capacity than the previous trains, which were about 30 years old.

This Tweet shows the ICE 4 along with two other new trains:

Also starting next month, the French TGV Lyria will operate 15 double-decker trains on the routes from Zurich, Lausanne and Geneva to Paris – replacing the current single-decker trains. The timetable will also be expanded. These moves will increase the daily capacity from 4,500 to 18,000 seats. All passengers will get free WLAN, and those in “first-class business” will receive hot meals at their seats.

The new Swiss Giruno train is the federal railways’ first international long-distance train with low-floor access for Italy, Switzerland and Germany. Also offering free WLAN, it takes to the tracks next month, with service to Chiasso and from spring 2020 to Milan. When the Ceneri Base Tunnel opens in 2021, travel times to Italy will be much faster.

“With the introduction of three new fleets, [the Swiss and partner railways] are offering a comfortable and climate-friendly range of services to neighbouring countries. The use of the new trains for international expansion will enable the railways to expand their capacity in the medium- and long-term, thus strengthening their competitiveness compared to airplanes, cars and other modes of transport,” said Swiss Federal RailwaysExternal link in a media release.

Train travel is also expected to get cheaper. The Swiss Federal Railways’ online sales system for international tickets is undergoing a major overhaul to make it easier for customers to search for and book economy fares.

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