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The future of the night trains? – hearing in Switzerland

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This question is at the heart of umverkehR-hearing last night in Bern. For the approximately 60 guests who followed the discussion quickly became clear from the statement of Armin Weber (head of International Passenger SBB division), that the night train are not offered a strategic priority neither by SBB nor by the DB. With SBB, the current focus is on long-distance traffic during daytime that can be served by high-speed trains in a radius of 4-6 hours.

haering-BernBoth Joachim Holstein (Workers representative DB ERS) as well as Jürg Streuli (railway journalist) pleaded for considering night trains as an integral part of the whole range of railway companies and to take not just individual routes into view and economically analyze. Night trains satisfy a specific demand that can be satisfied by day trains. On the other hand, night trains are also suppliers for day trains, which would not be posted to the same extent if the night trains no longer existed. Demand for night trains is good, although this is hardly invested in visibility or advertising.

Aline Trede (Co-President umverkehR) pointed out in the discussion on the lack of political will to keep the night trains. The Federal Council would have the possibility to define a strategic objective for SBB a minimum range of night trains, contrary to their own statements. SBB could provide this offer in cooperation with other railway companies. But until now the political will lacks to actually promote sustainable travel and to ensure a level playing field between the different modes. Armin Weber finally pleaded for an equal treatment of transport, and thus that the tax concessions for the airports and bus routes are canceled. Only then would it be possible for a railway company as the SBB, maintain a wide range of connections.

The hearing has shown that a political and entrepreneurial room for maneuver exists to keep the night trains in the future. At the same time there was expressed concern that there is a risk due to the outdated rolling stock that suddenly no night trains will run because the cars cannot drive any more.

Therefore umverkehR Calls:

  1. that the Federal Council demands a minimum of night train in its strategic objectives for SBB.
  2. that the SBB with other railway companies (notably DB) maintain the existing Night Train offer from/to Switzerland and improves the quality.
  3. that the SBB involves financially in the acquisition of new rolling stock.
  4. that the SBB is working towards that a Europe-wide timetable and ticket platform is set up, which enables customers to get easy access to cross-border train services and to view and to purchase tickets for all cross-border rail travel online and at the counter.
  5. that the SBB will look for better conditions for night trains so their operations can become even more commercial.

The hearing was on 22.10. between 17.00 and 19:00

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