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On the move Out and about with the railway police

Since 2009, the Swiss Federal Railways have had their own dedicated police corps. Photographer Didier Ruef documented the daily life of one of these special units in southern Switzerland. 

Some 250 police officers are currently working for the Swiss Federal Railways in all the language regions of the country. About 20 of them work in the southern canton of Ticino.

The railways are constantly expanding their police corps, due to the increasing rudeness of passengers, as well as modern society’s increased need for security.

Railway police rights are laid down by law: they can protect, search or arrest people, check tickets, detect and prosecute criminal offences. They can also record and report acts of vandalism or violence.

During an arrest, they may use handcuffs or restraints to hand over a suspect to the regular police.

The railway police’s working day is usually shaped by the mood and behaviour of travellers. These can be very different depending on the time of the day. In the morning or evening trains, the carriages are filled with energetic young students or apprentices as well as with commuters who are often immersed in their reading.

On night and weekend trains, by contrast, it’s the party people who are travelling to the nightclubs overexcitedly and when they return home, they’re frequently loud and very drunk.

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