Trains in Switzerland will be slower in the coming years, FOT admits

Trains in Switzerland will be slower in the coming years, FOT admits

Following promises to cut journey times between major Swiss cities, documents published by the Federal Office for Transport (FOT) have revealed that the government is set to largely abandon the goal. Instead of getting faster, they predicted that many public transport services would actually run more slowly in the next decade.

Swiss trains will not be getting faster, FOT admits

In the report, the FOT admitted that it would not be able to speed up rail connections as originally hoped as part of the Bahn 2035 rail plan. Five years ago, the government allocated 13 billion francs to be spent on expanding the railways and making them faster, with work expected to be completed by 2035.

Now, the FOT expects the upgrades to only be completed by 2040, with costs rising to 18 billion francs. What’s more, while a handful of services will be getting faster, many of the main lines will slow up in the next decade. 

Bahn 2035 was too ambitious when it came to cutting journey times

The main reasons for the slower trains are the promise of more frequent services and the scrapping of tilting technology - which allows trains to run faster around corners - by Swiss Federal Railways due to technical issues with the new FV-Dosto double-decker trains. They added that the planners of yesteryear were also too ambitious, with many of their speed predictions labelled as being incompatible with reality.

For example, by around 2035, the FOT expects rail journeys between Lausanne and Bern to take 68 minutes, two minutes longer than today and well above the government’s promise of having major cities be an hour away from the next-closest major centre. This will also apply to Lausanne-Visp (92 to 96 minutes), Geneva-Biel / Bienne (88 to 95), Winterthur-St. Gallen (33 to 37), Bern-Interlaken (52 to 55) and Lausanne-Biel / Bienne (60 to 64).

What’s more, instead of speeding up services, some major projects are only expected to limit the slowdown - the new Zimmerberg tunnel between Zurich and Lucerne will mean journey times between the two will be “just” a minute longer than today.

What Swiss train services will be getting faster?

Only a few Swiss train services are expected to get faster in the next 10 years. Journeys between Zurich and Winterthur (24 minutes to 16) and Zurich and St. Gallen (73 to 69) will be shorter thanks to the new Brütten tunnel, while Basel to Zurich via Brugg (73 to 70) and Neuchâtel to La Chaux-de-Fonds (28 to 14) trains will also be quicker.

Along with slower journeys, the FOT confirmed that other projects are set to be further scrutinised or cut from the 2035 agenda. Among others, these include new mainline services from Horgen and Zurich Enge, a new S-Bahn between Dietikon and Zurich and a half-hourly train between Olten and Lucerne.

Public transport to be massively expanded in Switzerland

Nevertheless, while the government has scrapped its dreams of high speed rail in Switzerland, the total number of train services will be expanded massively in the next 10 years in a bid to keep up with demand. By 2035, trains will run every 15 minutes on nine major lines, including between Geneva and Lausanne, Bern and Zurich and Zurich and Lucerne via Zug. 12 other InterCity services will run every half an hour.

Local transport will also be improved, with connections every 15 minutes on a great number of S-Bahn lines in Canton Zurich, including trains to and from the city and Horgen, Kloten, Zurich Airport, Winterthur, Bülach, Regensdorf, Uster and Stäfa. More frequent services will also be brought to Basel, Bern and the suburban and rural regions of Aargau and Glarus.

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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