Special carnival train leaves empty after SBB forgets to unlock Zurich HB

Special carnival train leaves empty after SBB forgets to unlock Zurich HB

It’s something that many locals and expats have been looking forward to for a year: the start of the carnival season in Switzerland. However, one group of Fasnacht fans from Zurich were left annoyed, after they weren't able to catch a special early morning train to the Lucerne Carnival. The reason? Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) had forgotten to unlock the station entrance.

No one shows up for special SBB service to Lucerne

And it was all going to go so well: to help the residents of Zurich attend the very start of Lucerne Carnival at 5am on February 8, SBB put on a very special public transport service. The train was set to leave Zurich HB at 3.46am and arrive just as the festivities were about to begin.

However, 3.46am came around, and conductors noticed that absolutely no one was on board. They had no choice but to depart platform eight for Lucerne, perhaps annoyed that they had to wake up so early for nothing, and disappointed that no soul had taken advantage of the special service.

SBB had forgotten to unlock gates to Zurich HB

However, it later turned out that many people wanted to take the 3.46am train, with carnival fans from across the Swiss metropolis converging on Zurich HB in the early hours of the morning. According to Blick, at least 50 people were among the crowds looking to take the carnival express. 

Unfortunately, party-goers faced a problem: the gates and bars at the main station were locked, meaning no one could have gotten to the train if they’d tried. When the gates were finally opened by staff at 3.50am, punctuality already had the locomotive twisting its way down to the heart of central Switzerland. Not to be deterred, the majority left standing there called taxis or used Uber to carpool their way to Lucerne, at a cost of 129 francs per car.

SBB apologies and encourages Fasnacht fans to contact them

Speaking to 20 Minuten, SBB spokesperson Bas Vogler said they “apologise to the carnival participants affected." He explained that an internal misunderstanding led to the doors of Zurich HB being locked, even as the train was preparing to leave.

Luckily, in typical Swiss fashion, "SBB immediately organised another special train, which left for Lucerne at 4.54am," Volgler noted. He called on all those who took taxis or Uber'd to the carnival to contact customer service to discuss refunds. “If the ticket was purchased at a ticket machine or in a travel centre, customers can contact an SBB travel centre. The requests are examined individually,” he concluded.

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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