SBB converts train into taxi service to help delayed passengers get home

SBB converts train into taxi service to help delayed passengers get home

From Swiss cows on trains to the most delayed service in the country not actually being from Switzerland, it is safe to say that the public transport network has attracted some quirky headlines over the last few months. Now, travellers getting off a heavily delayed train in Geneva were relieved after Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) put on a special service in the middle of the night that would take them to their destinations. The media is calling it Switzerland’s first rail taxi service.

French train arrives three and a quarter hours late in Geneva

According to Blick, our story starts on the evening of February 26 on a hugely delayed French train between Lyon and Geneva. The TER service was over three and a quarter hours late when it arrived at Geneva Cornavin at 1.40am, according to local train driver Sébastien.

“You can imagine the joy that could be read on their faces,” he joked, explaining to Blick that the last connecting service had left long after they arrived. In all, around 80 people were left stranded at the station. For people who lived in Geneva, a number of taxis were deployed, while one person from Bern was put up in a hotel. However, for those that lived in Vaud and along Lake Geneva, Sébastien and SBB took matters into their own hands.

SBB decides to offer a night rail taxi service to help passengers

Now working overtime, and with the approval of SBB, Sébastien and a colleague decided to operate a “night taxi service” using one of the trains parked in Geneva. "After joking with the travellers stranded on the platform, I got them on the train and took the controls: everyone was able to tell me the nearest station to them so that he or she could be picked up by his family or [given] a taxi home," he told the newspaper.

With all the stations noted, and with the "à la carte route" now approved by the authorities, the train was able to depart Geneva in the middle of the night and take all the passengers back home. “After spending hours in a struggling SCNF train, they were happy,” he added. “It was not my role that I wanted to highlight. This is the system: special convoys can be organised any way you want, with goodwill.”

We do not leave passengers stranded, says Swiss railway spokesperson

In response, those on the internet - especially French users - questioned why SBB was setting up a special rail service to connect with a delayed French train. In response, SBB spokesperson Frédéric Revaz told Blick that "even if the delayed train is operated by another company, we do not leave customers stranded and [we instead] route them to their destination.”

Image: / olrat

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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