Swiss railways forced to recruit foreign drivers

Train drivers require a lot of training to master a locomotive Keystone

A shortfall of train drivers has resulted in the Swiss Federal Railways looking abroad to plug the gap. Most of the foreign recruits will come from Germany.

This content was published on April 20, 2015 and agencies

The federal railways has given Basel-based firm MEV Schweiz the task of recruiting around 50 train drivers. The majority will be hired from Germany because of a bottleneck in qualified Swiss drivers. The new employees will receive additional training in Switzerland by the end of 2015.

The sudden demand for drivers can be explained by prolific construction work on the Swiss railway network which affects the daily timetable of drivers. The advanced training required to master the European Train Controlling System means that turnover of new Swiss drivers is limited.

“It takes a year to train someone to use the system,” a railways spokesperson told He added that this was not the first time the federal railways has had to recruit from outside. In November last year, there was also a shortage of around 50 drivers.

The long apprenticeship for a trainee driver means that it is difficult to forecast and plan for future requirements. There are currently around 3,000 drivers that have been trained in-house by the federal railways.

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