SBB to dramatically increase services on Ascension and Pentecost weekends

SBB to dramatically increase services on Ascension and Pentecost weekends

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has confirmed that it will be dramatically expanding public transport services between Ticino and the rest of Switzerland during the Ascension and Pentecost weekends in 2024. Here’s what you need to know about the company’s timetable for the holidays:

SBB to expand train services over Ascension 2024

To prepare for the expected increase in holiday passengers during Ascension, SBB confirmed that it would run 61 more trains between German-speaking Switzerland and Canton Ticino from May 9 to May 12. It would also be adding additional carriages to services that are already set to travel between northern Swiss cities and the Italian-speaking canton.

SBB warned that all extra services going north and south from May 9 to 11 will use the Gotthard Panorama Route, due to ongoing repairs to the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Travellers should therefore expect journeys to be an hour longer. However, on Sunday, May 12, a “large proportion of the additional [trains] can run with shorter journey times through the Gotthard Base Tunnel”, SBB confirmed. 

Extra TILO services to run between Switzerland and Italy

To help travellers get from Ticino to destinations in Italy and back, two additional TILO trains will run from Locarno via Mendriso, Varese and Gallarate to Milan Centrale on May 9. Two extra TILO services will also run from Milan on May 12, with one going to Lugano and the other going to Bellinzona.

In all, 52.000 extra seats will be offered on SBB trains during the Ascension weekend.

More fast trains to Ticino scheduled during Pentecost

Because Whitsun and Whit Monday (Pentecost) are not public holidays in all Swiss cantons, SBB will only run 48 extra trains during the weekend and Monday following May 19. However, the company confirmed that the majority of these trains will be able to use the faster route through the Gotthard. 

TILO services are expected to remain the same during the holiday. In total, 47.000 more seats will be available on the weekend of Pentecost.

Plan ahead and reserve a seat, SBB advises

However, despite the increased services, SBB said it “cannot rule out” the possibility that trains will be incredibly busy during both weekends. Therefore, it is recommended that travellers plan their journeys in advance using the SBB website or mobile app, and even try to book seat reservations if possible.

They also announced that anyone travelling with a bike must book a reservation alongside their extra ticket if they plan to use any InterCity line, international train or any service that uses the Gotthard axis or travels in the southern Juran mountains during the holidays. Trains that require bike reservations will show on the timetable with the corresponding “Velo Reservation” symbol.

Heavy traffic jams are expected in Switzerland during holidays

Finally, drivers planning to head to Ticino on the motorway should be prepared for heavy disruption during both weekends, especially around major cities, the San Bernadino Pass and the Gotthard Road Tunnel.

Thumb image credit: Leonid Andronov /

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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