French-speaking Switzerland up in arms after SBB cuts announced

French-speaking Switzerland up in arms after SBB cuts announced

Communities across French-speaking Switzerland have expressed their outrage over plans to significantly reform public transport services across the region in 2025. Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) argues their plan is designed to accommodate for planned construction work, which will inevitably mean fewer and slower rail services.

SBB submits reforming rail plan for 2025

By submitting the scheme alongside their far more generous timetable for 2024, SBB was perhaps hoping the residents of the Romande would not notice the grand scheme planned for their rail network in 2025. In the plan, reported across the Swiss media, SBB said that they “aim to ensure better punctuality while helping to minimise the impact of the numerous rail works planned in French-speaking Switzerland over the next few years.”

The changes planned for 2025 are as follows:

  • Direct trains between Geneva and Lausanne will take 39 minutes instead of 35.
  • Direct services between Geneva and Neuchâtel will cease - travellers will have to change at Renens, Canton Vaud.
  • Despite being 7 minutes quicker, travellers between Lausanne and Aigle will see direct services halved.
  • Travel times between Delémont and Lausanne will be increased by 11 minutes, through passengers changing at Biel / Bienne or thanks to the direct train now stopping at Renens.
  • Passengers travelling between Delémont and Geneva will have to change at either Biel / Bienne, Renens or both.
  • The direct route from Morges to Yverdon-les-Bains will be suspended during off-peak hours, doubling the travel time from 22 to 44 minutes as passengers will have to change at Renens.
  • In a piece of good news, one RER service an hour from Lausanne will be extended to Martingny instead of terminating at St-Maurice.

“In a context of an increase in construction sites due to the age of the infrastructure, which is significantly greater than the national average, the new timetable aims to reinforce punctuality and allow the completion of numerous infrastructure renewal works. At the same time, it will facilitate development projects aimed at introducing new offers for customers as quickly as possible”, SBB wrote in a statement.

French-speaking Swiss cities condemn the SBB plan

In response, the communities of Geneva, Neuchâtel, La Chaux-de-Fonds and Yverdon-les-Bains have formed a “united front” against the plans. In a statement given to 20 Minuten, the cities condemned what they called a “two-speed rail network” where trains in German-speaking Switzerland are faster and better connected than services in French-speaking areas.

What's more, while only touted as a temporary solution, information leaked to Le Matin found that the planned cuts to services could last for up to 10 years. In the face of fewer trains for their residents, the cities warned of a “loss of attractiveness” for both tourists and new expats, calling on SBB to adopt “viable alternatives” as soon as possible.

Transport departments call plan unacceptable

“No information reached us before the official announcement. Now we are being asked to take note of a decision and carry it out. It's indecent and unacceptable,” noted Brenda Tuosto, Head of Mobility in Yverdon-les-Bains. Mobility Director for Geneva Frédérique Perler said the plan leaves Geneva isolated: “Nothing has been thought of for the Geneva population that needs to travel, except long-distance routes.”

Finally, the director of Geneva Tourism Adrien Genier said that the plan would dramatically limit the number of tourists from German-speaking areas - who make up 27 percent of Geneva’s tourists. “Having a good service is essential. The new schedules are not good news for us at all”, he noted.

However, the director remains optimistic, concluding that “we are in Switzerland. I'm sure we'll find a compromise." For more information about the cuts, check out the official press release.

Thumb image credit: / Michael Derrer Fuchs

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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