More and more passengers using Swiss Federal Railways arrived on time in 2014, cementing Swiss trains’ reputation as the most punctual in Europe.
Last year 87.7% of passengers reached their destination within three minutes of the advertised time, up from 87.5% the previous year, Swiss Railways announced on Monday.
This was despite intensive construction work; the railways put the result down to investment and better rolling stock. Nevertheless, it failed to hit the stated goal of 89% punctuality. In 2011, the figure hit 89.8%.
This level of punctuality is not without challenges, however. There have recently been concerns that Swiss trains are victims of their own success, with more and more people using them, resulting in serious rush-hour overcrowding on some stretches. Mooted solutions to this include raising ticket prices.
Around a million people board Swiss trains every day.
When it came to catching a connecting train, 97.1% of passengers made it in 2014 – down from 97.3%.
Best in Europe
Unlike most European rail systems, in Switzerland it is the passengers that are punctual not the trains. Passengers are considered punctual if they not only arrive less than three minutes late but also make all their connections.
In addition, most countries in Europe consider a train punctual if it is less than five minutes late – in neighbouring Austria it is five minutes and 29 seconds, in Germany five minutes and 59 seconds.
Judged on the five-minute criterion, 96.8% of Swiss trains would have been punctual in 2014, compared with 96.7% in Austria and 94.5% in Germany.
Dangerous level crossings
On Tuesday Swiss Federal Railways reported it had finished modernising the last series of dangerous level crossings on its network to improve safety standards. Since 2004 a total of 550 unprotected railway crossings have either been adapted, fitted with barriers, lights or other safety features or removed.
However, according to the Federal Office of Transport there are still around 450-500 dangerous crossings in Switzerland belonging to other rail network operators which did not meet the end-of-2014 deadline to be modernised.
swissinfo.ch and agencies