Passenger numbers on Swiss trains reach all-time record high

Passenger numbers on Swiss trains reach all-time record high

After passenger numbers returned to pre-pandemic levels at the end of 2022 and went from strength to strength at the start of this year, it seems the Swiss still can’t get enough of the public transport network. Between the beginning of April and the end of June, railways in Switzerland catered to an all-time record number of passengers, new data has revealed.

Swiss trains have never seen so many passengers

In a statement from the Union of Public Transport and Litra, officials announced that an all-time passenger record had been broken on Swiss railways in the second quarter of 2023. Over the three-month period, authorities recorded 5,64 billion passenger kilometres, 8 percent more than the last quarter and 5,9 percent more than the previous three-month record set in the third quarter of 2019 (5,49 billion).

For reference, a passenger kilometre is the number of kilometres travelled by each train on the network, multiplied by the number of passengers it carries during each journey. The metric allows experts to estimate total passenger numbers alongside how far said passengers tend to travel.

Passenger record comes at a difficult time for SBB

The positive news comes at a difficult time for Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). Despite recording excellent punctuality rates last year, falling passenger numbers in 2022, largely caused by the effects of the COVID pandemic, forced officials to announce that the cost of public transport tickets would rise by the end of 2023 - the first time prices have risen in seven years. It is currently unclear whether the good news from the last two quarters will see the price rises scrapped.

Maintenance of the network has also started to become an issue, with the company recently having to slim down its timetable for the area around Lausanne between August and December due to maintenance work, while another cut to services is still planned for 2025. Budget cuts announced by the government back in March will also see SBB funding cut by 150 million francs a year for three years from 2025.

Nevertheless, the figures for the second quarter of 2023 represent a return to normality after the COVID pandemic, with passenger numbers for the period being 14,8 percent higher than they were at the same time last year. The only fly in the ointment, according to Litra, is in freight traffic. Freight numbers fell by 3,2 percent compared to last year - something the organisation blamed on high production costs and the poor economic situation in the rest of Europe.

Thumb image credit: Thamrongsak.S /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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