SBB repairs to bring disruption to trains in western Switzerland
Travellers in French-speaking Switzerland will face major disruption over the next year due to engineering works carried out by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). Around 20 projects in the region will lead to cancellations and the replacement of public transport services.
What Swiss rail services will be disrupted in 2024?
In a statement given to 20 Minuten, SBB confirmed that 6.000 engineering projects are planned in French-speaking Switzerland in 2024. 550 million francs will be allocated towards repairs and renovations, while 220 million francs will be spent expanding the network and meeting SBB’s delayed goal of full station accessibility for disabled people.
The renovations will bring with them disruption for those in the Romande region throughout 2024, ranging from cancellations to line interruptions to the use of replacement bus services. Here is a round-up of the expected disruption:
Payerne to see cancellations and replacement buses
The biggest disruption to services will come in the Broye district of cantons Fribourg and Vaud. Rail traffic between Payerne and Avenches will be completely suspended from May 3 to 6, and no trains will run between Payerne and Palézieux from June 14 to 16.
Night services on the R9 and R8 routes between Payerne and Palézieux will also be completely suspended between January 15 and July 12, and again from September 15 to November 15. During the disruption, replacement bus services will be offered between affected stations.
Cuts to Interregional services between Geneva and Lausanne
The main line between Geneva and Lausanne will also be repaired in 2024, with a total track replacement planned between Denges and Echandens-Renens from May 25 to August 19. From June 28 to August 19, the majority of IR90 and French TGV services between Geneva Airport and Lausanne will be cancelled. To compensate for the reduction in service, IC1 trains will stop at Morges and Nyon during the disruption.
Local lines in Geneva affected by engineering works
Several engineering works are also planned in Geneva itself. On the weekends of February 25, March 2 and March 16 from 9.40pm to 4.40am, no night trains will run between Geneva and La Plaine - services will be replaced by buses. Léman Express night trains from Annemasse to Coppet will terminate in Geneva from 9pm on a select number of nights between February 11 and June 14 - this change was already included in the official timetable for 2024.
Lausanne to Vevey axis to be closed for a weekend
Going further down Lake Geneva, the line between Lausanne and Vevey will be completely suspended from March 16 to 18. Local services between Lausanne - Vevey and Vevey - Puidoux / Chexbres will be replaced by buses, while Intercity and Interregional services will divert via Puidoux-Palézieux, adding 30 minutes to journey times.
IC5 to be suspended in April
From April 27 to 29, major works will be carried out at Vufflens-la-Ville. During the days, IC5 trains between Yverdon-les-Bains and Lausanne will not run. Passengers are encouraged to use replacement buses, which will run between Yverdon and Morges (for onward connections to Geneva) and Yverdon and Lausanne.
Valais public transport affected by SBB repair work
Finally, the line around Saxon station in Valais is also slated for repairs in 2024. As a result, IR90 and Eurocity services will not run to Sion from Matigny from February 9 to 12, and again from February 23 to 26. Replacement buses will instead run between Sion and Martingny.
Record passenger numbers in Romande caught SBB off-guard
Speaking to 20 Minuten, SBB spokesperson David Fattebert argued that the company has no choice but to close down some lines temporarily, explaining that many of the tracks in French-speaking Switzerland are 50 years old and are therefore in urgent need of repairs. The company had hoped to use the expected lull in passenger numbers during and after the COVID pandemic to reduce services and make the repairs with minimal disruption.
However, Fattebert admitted that this approach did not work: “We did not hope to return to 2019 [passenger] levels before 2030. However, in 2023, we exceeded them by 30 percent…It is enormous. Demand is strong, particularly on regional traffic. We are witnessing a real societal change.”
He warned that the repair work will inevitably lead to poor punctuality across the Romande region. Echoing what SBB warned when announcing its 2024 timetable, Fattebert predicted that the situation will only fully rectify itself once all essential works are completed in 2025.
For more information about the disruption, check out the official press release.