More trains to top destinations: New SBB timetable explained
In a statement, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), the main public transport provider in Switzerland, has announced a new timetable set to start on December 10, 2023. As part of the changes, passengers across Swiss cities will be able to benefit from more long-distance trains between the country's top tourist destinations.
SBB promises more rail connections to top destinations
In a statement, reported across the Swiss media, SBB said that it would be bringing “various innovations” to its latest timetable update for 2023 / 24. Of particular focus for the company will be improving connections between German-speaking Switzerland and Ticino, and accommodating construction that will be taking place in major hubs.
New Swiss train timetable for 2023 / 2024
While the company confirmed that the timetable in French-speaking areas will remain largely the same from December 10, 2023, here’s what people east and south of the Röstigraben can expect from the new plan:
New trains through the Gotthard Tunnel
First, SBB announced that they will be increasing the number of services through the Gotthard Rail Tunnel so that one runs every half an hour - while the company has not revealed which Intercity (IC) routes will be given more trains, it will likely be services from Zurich, Lucerne and Bern to Ticino. The half-hourly services will run every day between 6am and 8pm southbound and 7am to 10pm northbound.
More services between Basel and Interlaken
In addition, two extra services will run between Basel and the gateway to Swiss ski resorts, Interlaken, every day as part of the IC61 service. An additional IC6 train will also run every day between Basel and Brig via Bern.
New direct connections between Zurich and Graubünden
With the SBB noting that “demand for leisure travel is increasing, especially on the main tourist routes to holiday regions," the company announced that more trains will be headed to Graubünden from December 2023. From that date, two additional direct trains between Geneva, Zurich and Chur will run every weekend.
SBB to use bigger trains on high-demand routes
In the final change to Intercity traffic, with passenger numbers reaching record levels at the start of 2023, the company confirmed that it will be using larger trains to accommodate the increase in travellers. Specifically, double-decker trains will now be used on the line between Olten and Lucerne.
Changes to regional trains in Switzerland
Along with the changes to long-distance and inter-regional transport, the company also announced changes to regional S-Bahn services. These are:
- The S11 between Dietikon and Aarau will run every half hour.
- The S23 will now stop at Dulliken at all times.
- A new express service will run in the late evening between Olten, Solothurn, Oensingen, Grenchen Süd and Biel / Bienne.
- A new station at Minusio will open on the route between Tenero and Locarno.
The company added that regional services in French-speaking Switzerland will remain largely the same when the timetable is updated.
Services between Wipkingen and Zurich HB to be suspended
Finally, those living in Zurich be warned: it may be harder to get into the city from December, with SBB confirming that construction work in Zurich Wipkingen will start in May this year. All services between Zurich Wipkingen and Zurich Main Station (HB) will be closed for a year from December 2023 - services that use the line that runs through the station but don't stop (S6, 7, 9, 15, 16) will either be cancelled or diverted through the Weinbergtunnel (missing out Zurich Hardbrücke).
Cuts on the horizon for French-speaking Switzerland
While the new timetable promises much for 2024, the company added that services, especially in French-speaking areas, will be radically reformed in 2025. This will include slower trains between major cities, and fewer direct services and connections during off-peak times.
In the statement, SBB said that these reforms are designed 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." For more information about both timetables, check out the official press release.
Thumb image credit: Shutterstock.com / Michael Derrer Fuchs