SBB in talks to create direct service between Zurich, Florence and Rome

SBB in talks to create direct service between Zurich, Florence and Rome

Could Zurich soon be just a direct train away from Florence, Rome and even Copenhagen? Insiders have suggested that Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is currently in discussions with other rail companies to make the routes a reality.

SBB in talks to create direct train from Zurich to Rome

According to insiders speaking to Watson, SBB is in the midst of discussions with Trenitalia to launch a new direct train service between Zurich and a number of Italian cities beyond Milan. Under the plans, the Italian rail firm would offer a twice-daily service between Zurich and Rome via Florence and Bologna.

In return, SBB would run a daytime service from Zurich to Turin and then on to the port city of Livorno. Currently, the vast majority of Swiss public transport services terminate in Milan, with only one train to Venice, Genoa and Bologna each day - although the latter two are currently suspended due to the derailment in the Gotthard.

Zurich to Copenhagen direct train in Deutsche Bahn plan

What’s more, Deutsche Bahn’s recently released long-term plan would see new connections established between Swiss cities and Germany. According to the plan, from 2026 more ICE trains will run between Germany via Basel and Zurich, Chur, Bern, Interlaken and, for the first time, Brig. 

Most excitingly, the plan would see a direct route established between Zurich, Basel and Copenhagen. According to the plan, the journey would take 9,5 hours from Zurich and 8,5 hours from Basel.

Swiss-Italian trains appealing but a challenge, say SBB

Speaking to Watson, SBB spokesperson Sabrina Schellenberg said that they and Trenitalia are both interested in offering more routes. However, she said that while “direct connections to Rome with stops in Bologna and Florence would undoubtedly be very interesting”, the plan is “extremely challenging to implement.”

The main issue stems from compatibility, namely the fact that the famous Italian high-speed Frecciarossa trains are not allowed to run in Switzerland and that the 30 new Italian locomotives that are permitted in the alpine nation will not be delivered until 2026. SBB high-speed trains are also not approved to run on Italian high-speed lines, further complicating the situation.

Zurich to Copenhagen only possible from 2026

Regarding the line between Zurich and Copenhagen, Schellenberg said that for now, the Deutsche Bahn plan remains more of a wish list than a concrete proposal, as not a single train in its or DB's arsenal is approved to run in Switzerland, Germany and Denmark. The plan would also require the completion of the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel from Puttgarden to Rødbyhavn, which will only open in 2029 at the earliest.

Thumb image credit: Gaid Kornsilapa /

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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