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New rail timetable passes acid test

Almost all commuters made it to work on time on Monday morning Keystone

The Swiss Federal Railways’ new timetable switch, the biggest overhaul in recent times, has gone smoothly with only a few hitches.

This content was published on December 13, 2004 - 13:24

While nearly all of the country’s trains arrived and left on time during the morning rush hour on Monday, more than a dozen were delayed or taken out of service later during the day.

An army of 2,300 extra rail staff were deployed in 80 stations around Switzerland to help commuters make their connections.

However, glitches included seven trains being stranded for 20 minutes on the new track between Mattstetten and Rothrist.

A computer crash meant that all signal lights automatically turned red on the 45-kilometre-long stretch. A further six trains were diverted.

A train from Lucerne broke down between Zurich and the city's airport, and a train with engine problems between Langnau and Lucerne was replaced by a bus service.

One train travelling from Zurich to Bern carried an important passenger: the transport minister, Moritz Leuenberger.

He spent so much time speaking to journalists on the departure platform that he could not find a free seat on the train and had to spend the journey sitting on the stairs in a double-decker carriage.

Leuenberger said the changeover had gone smoothly and that he would use the extra 11 minutes that had been shaved off the Zurich to Bern journey to enjoy a cup of coffee at work.

To mark the increase in services from Olten, travellers were greeted with fresh croissants early on Monday morning. The local authorities distributed 1,000 of these to celebrate the occasion.

The Swiss Federal Railways faces yet another acid test on Monday night when freight trains hit the tracks for the first time since the new timetable came into force on Sunday.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

As of Sunday, there are 12% more trains running on the rail network.
Travelling times on more than half long-distance journeys have been reduced by at least five minutes.
35% of these journeys have seen their running times reduced by at least 15 minutes.
Total investment in Rail 2000 amounts to SFr5.9 billion ($4.93 billion).

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In brief

The biggest timetable change in the recent history of the Swiss Federal Railways has gone well with only a few problems.

About 90 per cent of the trains ran on time.

A computer crash left seven trains stranded on the new track between Mattstetten and Rothrist for 20 minutes.

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