SBB to set up night trains to Leipzig and Dresden in leisure push
The 2023 draft timetable from Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has revealed plans to increase the number of night train and leisure services to destinations in Switzerland and abroad. However, to make the expansion possible, the operator of most public transport in Switzerland will have to cut commuter rail services between Swiss cities.
Expanded night train and holiday services in Switzerland
According to Watson, SBB is switching its focus from regular commuter lines to catering to those on holiday or travelling to destinations in Europe. As part of their new plan for 2023, the hub for destinations in the Swiss mountains, Chur, will receive a new, direct Intercity connection from Geneva and an ICE connection to German long-distance rail. This will allow for quicker onward journeys to popular resorts like Davos, St. Moritz and Arosa.
New direct routes are also planned from Romanshorn on Lake Constance to Interlaken in Canton Bern, designed to serve the ski resorts and holiday destinations in central and eastern Switzerland. It is hoped that the new, quicker and more direct trains will boost tourism, particularly in the summer and winter months.
For those looking to travel overseas, an additional Nightjet on the Zurich to Prague line will allow travellers from Switzerland to alight at Leipzig and Dresden for the first time. The other night train routes from Switzerland will also be expanded, with more space available on evening services from Swiss cities to Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna and Graz, with plans for an additional high-speed train to Stuttgart by October 2023.
Leisure travel leads to scrapped rail connections between Swiss cities
However, this expansion does come at a cost for workers in Switzerland, with SBB having to cut commuter rail services between Swiss cities. The 7.10am and 4.10pm services from Bern to Zurich are to be scrapped, along with the 6.49am service going the other way.
Other routes to receive cuts include two morning trains from Lucerne to Zurich, one early morning train between Bellinzona and Zurich and all off-peak services from Zurich to Arth-Goldau. While direct connections will not be eliminated on these routes completely, it will mean fewer connections in the mornings and evenings for those trying to reach jobs in other cities.
SBB explained that the shift to leisure travel was due to a slow recovery in passenger numbers after the end of most COVID restrictions. The draft timetable for 2023 is now available to view on the official website, and the Federal Office of Transport will also begin a public consultation on the new plan in the coming weeks.