SBB experiences interrailing boom as passengers switch to using trains
With the cost of air travel increasing, and with most COVID restrictions gone, public transport in Switzerland and the rest of Europe is experiencing an interrailing and night train boom. Queues have stretched out the door at travel centres run by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), as customer numbers increase.
Demand for interrail and night trains tickets increases in Switzerland
In a statement given to Watson, SBB spokesperson Sabrina Schellenberg said that they were “noticing a pleasing demand for leisure and international passenger transport.” Over the next year, the company expects the number of passes sold for interrailing and Swiss night train services to be higher than pre-pandemic levels.
SBB referenced new data from Germany which found that, despite the nine-euro ticket scheme, sales of passes for interrailing and long-distance trains were up to 30 percent higher between January and June 2022 than during the same period in 2019. With new night train services connecting Zurich and Basel to top destinations like Amsterdam, the company also expects demand for night train tickets to skyrocket.
Long queues at SBB travel centres in multiple Swiss cities
According to Watson, queues to buy public transport tickets and interrailing passes at SBB travel centres have stretched out the door in many Swiss cities. In Bern and Zurich, customers have had to wait up to half an hour to be served, with further disruption expected in more areas as the summer continues.
Schellenberg conceded that for “complex trips,” booking in-person through a travel centre was still the best option. She noted that recent problems at airports in Switzerland have also increased demand for travel centre services and that "as in other sectors, SBB is unfortunately currently experiencing increased sick days, which can lead to short-term shortages."
To avoid the queues, Schellenberg recommended passengers avoid visiting travel centres on weekends, Mondays and after working hours, reserve an appointment if possible, have alternative travel dates in mind before arriving at the counter and for passengers to use the internet for bookings to France and Germany.
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