Ticket prices set to rise after SBB records 245-million-franc deficit

Ticket prices set to rise after SBB records 245-million-franc deficit

The General Manager of Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has said that increases in the cost of public transport tickets in Switzerland will be necessary this year. The main public transport provider recorded a deficit of 245 million francs last year and confirmed that it will need to make savings across the board to get back in the black.

Swiss Federal Railways runs heavy deficit in 2022

In its annual report, SBB confirmed that it ran a 245-million-franc deficit in 2022, and has now accumulated 11 billion Swiss francs in debt. The company told 20 Minuten that the deficit was caused by increased costs in “infrastructure energy” (-165 million francs) and losses in the cargo division of the company caused by market uncertainty (-83 million francs). If these areas had not seen such dramatic losses, the company would have made a profit.

Since 1999, SBB is a fully state-owned firm, whose shares are held jointly by the government and Swiss cantons. While it does receive generous subsidies from the state and is heavily regulated by federal authorities, it is normally expected to balance its books.

A spokesperson for the company told Watson that the deficit was caused by the war in Ukraine. The higher cost of energy in Switzerland as a consequence of the conflict hit rail traffic hard, with the company also spending 55 million francs on preparing emergency electricity reserves in 2022, as the threat of power shortages loomed large last winter.

Passenger numbers on Swiss trains rise

On the passenger side, 1,16 million passengers travelled on Swiss trains every day in 2022. While this amounts to a 30,8 percent rise compared to the year before, passenger numbers remained slightly lower than in 2019. SBB told 20 Minuten that there are still fewer passengers during the working week, as many jobs in Switzerland continue to offer home working days.

To account for the losses in the long term, SBB announced that it wanted to reduce its debt by 6 billion francs by 2030 through a combination of cost-saving and efficiency measures. While no plans have been confirmed at this stage, Watson said that some measures may include improving energy efficiency, reducing some personnel costs and leasing more sections of the network to private companies - like allowing FlixTrain to operate a service between Basel and Berlin.

Price rises on regional transport necessary, says SBB manager

When it comes to increasing ticket prices, General Manager Vincent Ducrot told 20 Minuten that while the cost of Intercity travel will remain the same, “what worries us is regional traffic. The situation is not sustainable in the long term, because the Federal Council does not want to assume more costs. This is why a price adjustment is necessary.”

“There is no other choice between now and the end of the year, but the increase will be moderate... Alliance SwissPass will determine the increase. It is still too early to be able to say how big the increase will be,” he confirmed.

Image: / 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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