SBB pays for couple's taxi after 15-minute delay leaves them stranded

SBB pays for couple's taxi after 15-minute delay leaves them stranded

When your train is delayed and you miss your last connection in other countries, most resign themselves to the fact that yes, a refund is possible after a bit of bureaucratic haggling, and some may even get a hotel room for the evening, but passengers' chances of reaching their destination on time are next to nil. Not on Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) though, with the company recently forking out hundreds of francs for a taxi to help get a stranded couple to the mountains on time.

Stranded couple rescued by SBB

Our story starts when the young couple travelled to visit the Matter Valley in Canton Valais, a pass which ends at the famous Swiss ski resort of Zermatt. However, thanks to a 15-minute delay on their train from Zurich to Bern, they missed their connection to Visp. Not wanting to go all the way home, they then took the next train to Valais, knowing full well that they had already missed the last train up the valley from Visp.

Desperate, the couple asked the conductor on the Visp service what they could do. To their surprise and without much complaint, he handed them a voucher which allowed them to charge SBB for a taxi ride to their final destination. While it is difficult to estimate, everyone who lives in Switzerland will know that a 40-minute taxi ride at night will cost the company quite a pretty penny. 

Having to pay for onward travel is exceedingly rare, says Alliance SwissPass

Speaking to ArgoviaToday, the happy couple said they were taken aback by the offer: "It can't be that SBB has to pay people [for] a taxi or even an overnight stay for every delay at the end of the day.” With SBB planning to raise prices at the end of the year, the couple joked that if the company plans to offer the service to every person in the same situation, it's hardly a surprise that they want to raise the cost of their tickets.

Speaking to the newspaper, a spokesperson for Alliance SwissPass said that with 92,5 percent of Swiss trains running on time as of last year, it is exceedingly rare for SBB to pay someone compensation. For example, since the Passenger Transport Act of 2021 was implemented, which mandated that public transport providers in Switzerland pay compensation in the event of excessive delays or cancellations, only 370.000 francs have been paid out so far.

What are my rights if I miss my last train in Switzerland?

However, if passengers do miss the last train because of SBB delays, company policy states that travellers are to be reimbursed for a one-night stay (bed and breakfast) in a mid-class hotel before they travel out in the morning. Alternatively, “If, for example, it is preferable to continue your journey by taxi instead of staying overnight, and the taxi costs remain within the cost of bed and breakfast, the taxi costs will be taken over or reimbursed," the spokesperson explained.

They added that if several passengers are affected, minibuses or shared taxis will be organised by the company. However, if the train delay is caused by the weather or factors beyond their control, SBB is not obliged to pay for accommodation or a taxi.

Interestingly, this isn’t the first time that SBB has found itself offering novel and quite expensive ways of getting passengers to their destinations. After a French train arrived in Geneva late on February 26, 2023, SBB decided to operate a “taxi train” to help get people back home.

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

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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