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What you need to know about SBB's new timetable for 2025

What you need to know about SBB's new timetable for 2025

A few days before its official publication, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has provided a sneak peek into how the public transport network will be changing come the end of this year. The changes have been branded as some of the most radical seen in 20 years.

SBB reveals details of 2025 train timetable

On May 23, SBB is due to release its brand new timetable for the railways, which will come into effect on December 15, 2024 and be valid for a year. However, at a press conference ahead of its official release, the company provided an overview of what changes travellers in the alpine nation can expect next year.

Speaking to 20 Minuten, an SBB spokesperson said the new timetable will impact western Switzerland the most, labelling it the most radical change seen on Swiss railways for 20 years. For the rest of the country, “There will be selective improvements in international and national long-distance traffic, including additional night connections that will be introduced on a test basis.”

SBB added that while it hopes to offer more international and domestic rail services next year, construction work in other countries means that journey times may be longer. This will apply to Switzerland-Germany and Switzerland-Italy trains specifically. 

Switzerland to expand international rail services to Italy

Starting with international services, the new SBB timetable for 2025 will see direct trains established between Swiss cities and the Italian metropolises of Bologna and Genoa. Two mothballed EuroCity services (Basel-Lucerne-Milan and Frankfurt-Zurich-Milan) will also resume operations by the new year. 

These additions will be possible thanks to the full reopening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which has been partially closed since August 2023 due to a train derailment. If all goes well, the tunnel should reopen in September 2024, after which all existing services should restart using the line, cutting journey times by up to an hour. In all, a train should run through the tunnel every 30 minutes.

Expanded EuroCity services between Zurich and Munich

What’s more, the direct rail service between Zurich HB and Brig will run all year round from December 2024, and will be extended to Domodossola in Italy. Finally, an additional EuroCity train will depart Zurich towards Munich at 5.35am from Monday to Saturday, while an additional late-night train will serve the return leg from Monday to Friday and on Sunday.

Timetable changes for long-distance trains in Switzerland

Domestically, the SBB timetable for 2025 will see several changes made:

  • Services will run through the Rhine Valley in St. Gallen every half-hour.
  • More IC5 trains will run between Zurich, Winterthur, Wil, Gossau and St. Gallen.
  • To relieve pressure on Bern's main station and improve journey times for commuting passengers, one IC train will stop in Bern Wankdorf during rush hour in the morning and evening. 
  • Various long-distance trains will now stop in Renens, Canton Vaud as well as Lausanne, mainly due to construction works detailed below.
  • A new night train will be tested, running between Bern, Olten, Zurich HB and Zurich Airport.
  • Train connections between Biel / Bienne and Geneva will be possible every half-hour, though passengers will have to change in Renens.

Major rail disruption expected in French-speaking Switzerland

The biggest negative news to come out of SBB’s plan is the admission that trains in French-speaking Switzerland will be cut and run slower than usual in 2025 due to maintenance work. Speaking to SRF, SBB head Vincent Ducrot explained that the slower trains are necessary to improve punctuality: “We prefer to have trains that are a minute or two slower but on time.”

Ducrot also admitted that they “have to renew and expand an extremely large number of tracks and systems” in western Switzerland in the coming years, meaning many lines will see a reduction in service.

SBB warned that because of construction work in and around Jura, Solothurn and Neuchâtel, travellers from Biel, Grenchen, Solothurn, Olten and Aarau will not be given a direct service to Geneva from the timetable change and will have to change at Renens or Neuchâtel. Six daily trains will continue to run in each direction during rush hour between Neuchâtel and Geneva, but travellers during off-peak times will also have to change at Renens.

Finally, SBB confirmed that travellers from Moutier, Delsberg and Basel will have to change trains twice (in Biel / Bienne and Renens) to reach Geneva from December 2026.

SBB timetable now open for consultation

The full draft of SBB’s new timetable is expected to be released on May 23, after which the Federal Office of Transport will launch a consultation period on the plan. This consultation is expected to conclude on June 9, 2024.

Thumb image credit: Michael Derrer Fuchs / Shutterstock.com

Jan de Boer

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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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