Federal Railways strikes partnership deal with Berne operator
The Federal Railways is to take a 34 per cent stake in the Berne-Lötschberg Railway (BLS), in a deal announced on Thursday. The deal is the result of long and often acrimonious negotiations between the two operators.
Under the agreement, the BLS will cede control of all long-distance rail routes originating in Berne. In exchange, it wins the right to operate all local trains in the Berne area.
Explaining the details of the deal to swissinfo, Christian Kräuchi, spokesman for the Federal Railways, said the "Federal Railways would take over the long distance traffic operated by BLS. That means trains that run to Interlaken and to Brig will be operated by the Federal Railways. BLS will take over responsibility for the 'S-Bahn' traffic - the fast local service for Berne."
The motivation behind the agreement was to prevent doubling up. The Federal Railways, which is owned by the Swiss government, says rationalising of services will lighten the burden on the public purse and lead to more efficient services.
The deal does not mean an end to competition between the two operators. It only relates to passenger services, meaning the two operators will still compete over goods freight.
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