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Swiss queue to become first owners of Euro banknotes

People queue at midnight outside the bureau de change at Zurich station Keystone

Several hundred Swiss queued up at midnight on Tuesday to be among the first people in the country to purchase Euro banknotes.

This content was published on January 1, 2002 - 13:12

The Swiss Federal Railways opened bureaux de change at mainline stations in Zurich and Basel at the stroke of midnight for customers wishing to exchange Swiss francs for the new currency.

The first customer to exchange Swiss francs for Euros was a 56-year-old man from St Gallen.

"I had to wait in line for an hour to be among the first to get hold of the Euro," he said.

"I have taken part in a historic moment," said another customer.

Brisk business

All other currency exchange offices at railway stations opened at 6:30am, with those located in border regions reported to be doing brisk business.

In Chur, a German tourist took advantage of the early opening hours to exchange the first Euro banknote back into Swiss francs, while station officials in Brig handed out specially-baked Euro croissants to customers purchasing the new currency.

When exchange counters opened at midnight, one euro was worth SFr1.54.

swissinfo with agencies

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