Switzerland - General Information

From EGTRE

Country Name

Switzerland (Suisse/Schweiz/Svizzera)

National Railway System

National Railway Operator

Schweizerische Bundesbahnen AG (SBB), Chemins de fer federaux suisses SA (CFF) and Ferrovie federali svizzere SA (FFS) are the German, French and Italian renderings of Swiss Federal Railways. The form used on buildings and other fixed installations depends on the language area in which they are situated. At a few locations, notably Biel/Bienne, two languages are used. Most rolling stock carries all three sets of initials.

Language

German is the main language. Written German is almost identical to that found in Germany - one main difference is that the esszett ('ß') is rarely used with 'ss' being preferred. Spoken Swiss German however differs considerably from standard German to the extent that many Germans find it hard to understand. There is an extensive French-speaking area covering Cantons Genève, Vaud, Fribourg, Neuchâtel and Jura, plus the western half of Valais and a small part of Bern. Certain towns to the west of Bern are officially bilingual. They are normally shown in both languages, e.g. Biel/Bienne and Fribourg/Freiburg. Italian is spoken in Canton Ticino. The predominant language in Canton Graubünden is German, but there is a minority language, Romansch. Some place names in this canton are generally given in both German and Romansch, e.g. Disentis/Mustér.

Currency

Swiss franc

UIC code

numeric 85; alpha CH

Timetable

Journey Planner

SBB Journey Planner

Downloadable Timetable

Principal routes (IC and IR) have been given route numbers from 10 December 2017.

Printed Timetable

The last printed Offizielles Kursbuch/Indicateur officiel/Orario ufficiale was published in 2017. It is still available in downloadable pdf format; see above.

Engineering Information

Bus Information

The Journey Planner (above) selects bus services if they provide the best journey.

The Post Bus website provides comprehensive public transport information.

Maps

Printed Maps

  • Eisenbahnatlas Schweiz published by Verlag Schweers + Wall GmbH. (ISBN 3-89494-122-7) is used as a reference in the Sparse/Obscure pages of this website. It also contains addresses, telephone numbers, and, where available, e-mail and web addresses for all transport companies using rail.
  • Track plans for RhB (ISBN 3-89494-101-4) and MGB (ISBN 3.89494) have been published by Schweers+Wall.
  • SBB's Schweizer Bahn-Karte, which is widely available, shows all passenger railways, inter-urban bus routes, ferries, cable cars and chair lifts on a 1:301000 relief map of Switzerland.
  • Schienennetz Schweiz: Ein technisch-historischer Atlas, published by AS Verlag (ISBN 3-905111-21-7), includes track layout diagrams and gradient profiles for all Swiss railways, as well as a vast amount of other technical and historical data. However it may not be easily available or up to date; the second edition was published in 1998 and it is not known if there is a later one.
  • European Railway Atlas: Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland by M.G. Ball (1993) (ISBN 0-7110-2116-3)
  • European Railway Atlas by M.G. Ball (2008 onwards)

Web-based Maps

Ticketing

Fares on some mountain railways are very expensive, though rover tickets and holiday cards may give reductions. Discounts may be available for travel on trains early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

A map can be downloaded here, showing on which lines (both free of charge and at a reduced rate) Interrail and Eurail passes are valid.

It is not possible to purchase a ticket on board a train without paying a substantial fine. Tickets must be bought in advance from a machine on the platform, online, or by smartphone. However, the transaction must be completed - including the payment being received by SBB - before the train departs. Some tickets must be date-stamped in a machine on the platform. These rules are enforced rigidly. A few exceptions will be made, for example for travellers changing from an international train who have had no opportunity of buying a ticket.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure Authority

SBB Infrastructure, a division of SBB.

A few lines in Switzerland are owned by Deutsche Bahn AG, the German national railway.

Network Statement

Contained within the Basic information on track access page

Gauge

The SBB/CFF/FFS system is standard gauge. Most other railways are either standard gauge or metre gauge, and some have sections of both. Various other gauges are used. The Rhätische Bahn and the Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn together form an extensive metre gauge system with through workings between the two lines.

Electrification

Most standard gauge lines are electrified at 15 kV 16.7 Hz, with 11 kV 16.7 Hz on the RhB/MGB system. Various systems are used by other railways, including low voltage dc. The CFF line from Genève to the frontier at La Plaine (but excluding the tracks to Genève Aeroport) is electrified at 25 kV 50 Hz for through running by SNCF trains; it was converted from 1500 V dc in autumn 2014. Very few lines are not electrified, the main exceptions being the DB AG line from Basel to Schaffhausen which is partly within Switzerland, the steam-worked Brienz Rothorn Bahn and the freight-only Sursee-Triengen line.

Rule of the road

Left, except for right hand running as follows: on DB AG lines through Basel and Schaffhausen, and on the SNCF line between Mulhouse and Basel SBB / Bâle SNCF.

Distances

The Schweers + Wall Eisenbahnatlas Schweiz (ISBN 978-3-89494-130-7 for the 2012 edition) is the most easily available source of distance information.

The Schienennetz Schweiz (see the Printed Maps section) was the definitive publication. However it may not be easily available or up to date.

Other Railways

Cantons (local government) have extensive shareholdings in many of these railways. Some railways have amalgamated in recent years or combined their operations. Rolling stock, tickets and publicity may still bear old names in some cases. In many cases other railways operate over SBB lines and vice versa. Funicular railways are not listed.

Aare Seeland mobil AG: Biel/Bienne to Ins; Niederbipp to Langenthal and St Urban Ziegelei; Solothurn to Niederbipp: Metre gauge, 1200V dc. The freight-only line from St Urban Ziegelei to Melchnau closed in 2012. www.aare-seeland-mobil.ch

Appenzeller Bahnen AG:

  • Gossau to Appenzell and Wasserauen; St Gallen to Gais and Appenzell; Gais to Altstätten Stadt; St Gallen to Trogen: Metre gauge, 100V dc, with Riggenbach rack at St Gallen and Strub rack between Stoss and Altstätten Stadt.
  • Rheineck to Walzenhausen: 1200 mm gauge, 600 V dc, with Riggenbach rack between Ruderbach and Walzenhausen.
  • Rorschach to Heiden: Standard gauge, 15 kV 16.7 Hz, with Riggenbach rack, except at Rorschach. www.appenzellerbahnen.ch

BDWM Transport AG: Wohlen to Dietikon: Metre gauge, 1200 V dc. www.bdwm.ch

BLS AG: Lengnau to Moutier; Bern to Neuchâtel and to Schwarzenburg; Bern to Thun via Belp; Thun to Brig and to Visp via the old and new Lötschberg tunnels; Spiez to Interlaken Ost and to Zweisimmen; Solothurn to Moutier and to Burgdorf; Burgdorf to Thun and to Langnau; Ramsei to Sumiswald-Grünen; Langenthal to Wolhusen; Sumiswald-Grünen to Burghof (freight only); Sumiswald-Grünen and to Huttwill (freight only but with summer tourist operation by Emmentalbahn - see below). All standard gauge, 15 kV 16.7 Hz. SBB operates all long-distance passenger trains over the Lötschberg route and to Interlaken. BLS operates local services in the Bern area, including those over SBB lines. Lengnau to Moutier forms part of the main line from Biel/Bienne to Basel and all passenger trains are operated by CFF. www.bls.ch

Dolderbahn Betriebs AG: Zürich-Römerhof to Zürich-Dolder: Metre gauge, 600 V dc, with Strub rack throughout. Managed by Verkehrsbetriebe de Stadt Zürich. www.zvv.ch

Chemin de fer de l’Etat de Genève: Genève Eaux Vives to French border near Ambilly: Standard gauge, 25kV 50 Hz. Leased to Réseau ferré de France and previously worked by SNCF. The railway is being rebuilt as part of the Léman Express project, which will see it linked to the main line through Genève in 2019.

Ferrovie autolinee regionali ticinesi: Locarno to Camedo (line continues through Italy as Societa Subalpina di Imprese Ferroviarie to Domodossola): Metre gauge, 1200V dc. www.centovalli.ch

Forchbahn AG: Zürich-Rehalp to Esslingen (operates over the Zürich tram system between Rehalp and Stadelhofen): Metre gauge, 1200V dc (600V on the tramway section). www.forchbahn.ch

Frauenfeld-Wil Bahn AG: Frauenfeld to Wil: Metre gauge, 1200 V dc. www.fw-bahn.ch

Gornergrat Bahn: Zermatt to Gornergrat: Metre gauge, 750 V 50 Hz three-phase, with Abt rack throughout. The railway is managed by the Matterhorn-Gotthard Bahn. www.ggb.ch

Jungfraubahnen: Jungfraubahn Holding AG and Berner Oberland Bahnen AG are jointly-managed companies that own and operate the following lines:

  • Berner Oberland Bahnen: Interlaken Ost to Lauterbrunnen and to Grindelwald: Metre gauge, 1500 V dc, with Riggenbach rack.
  • Bergbahn Lauterbrunnen- Mürren: Grütschalp to Mürren: Metre gauge, 550 V dc.
  • Jungfraubahn: Kleine Scheidegg to Jungfraujoch: Metre gauge, 1125 V 50 Hz three-phase, with Strub rack throughout.
  • Schynige Platte Bahn: Wilderswil to Schynige Platte: 800 mm gauge, 1500 V dc, with Riggenbach rack. No winter service.
  • Wengernalpbahn: Kleine Scheidegg to Lauterbrunnen and to Grindelwald: 800 mm gauge, 1500 V dc, with Riggenbach rack. www.jungfraubahn.ch

Chemins de fer du Jura:

  • La Chaux-de-Fonds to Glovelier; Le Noirmont to Tavannes: Metre gauge, 1500 V dc.
  • Porrentruy to Bonfol: Standard gauge, 15 kV 16.7 Hz. www.les-cj.ch

Chemin de fer Lausanne-Echallens-Bercher SA: Lausanne-Flon to Bercher: Metre gauge, 1500 V dc. www.leb.ch

Ferrovie Luganesi SA: Lugano to Ponte Tresa: Metre gauge, 1000V dc. www.flpsa.ch

AG Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn: Zermatt to Brig, Andermatt, Göschenen and Disentis/Mustér: Metre gauge, 11 kV, 16.7 Hz, with several sections of Abt rack. www.matterhorngotthardbahn.ch

Meiringen Innertkirchen Bahn: Metre gauge, 1200 V dc. Owned by a local power company, Kraftwerk Oberhasli AG. www.grimselstrom.ch

Ferrovia Monte Generoso: Capolago Lago to Generoso Vetta: 800 mm gauge www.montegeneroso.ch

Chemin de fer Montreux Oberland Bernois: Montreux to Zweisimmen and Lenk: Metre gauge, 900 V dc. www.mob.ch

Chemin de fer Nyon-St Cergue-Morez: Nyon to La Cure: Metre gauge, 1500 V dc. The company's name reflects that railway originally continued to Morez, in France, but the line beyond the Swiss border at La Cure closed in 1958. www.tprnov.ch

Oensingen-Balsthal Bahn AG: Balsthal to Oensingen: Standard gauge 15 kV 16.7 Hz. Passenger services are worked by SBB. www.oebb.ch

RegionAlps SA: A joint venture between CFF (70%), Transports de Martigny et Régions SA (18%) and Canton Valais (12%) responsible for operation of local passenger trains between Brig and St Gingolph. www.regionalps.ch

Regionalverkehr Bern-Solothurn AG:

  • Bern to Solothurn and to Worb Dorf via Worblaufen: Metre gauge, 1250 V dc.
  • Bern Egghölzli to Worb Dorf via Gümligen: Metre gauge, 600 V dc, with through running at Egghölzli onto the Bern tram system.www.rbe.ch

Rhätische Bahn:

  • Chur to Arosa; Chur to St Moritz and Pontresina via Thusis; Reichenau-Tamins to Disentis/Muster; Chur to Filisur via Davos; Klosters to Sagliains and Susch; Bever to Scuol-Tarasp; Samedan to Pontresina: Metre gauge, 11 kV 16.7 Hz.
  • St Moritz to Tirano: Metre gauge, 1000 V dc.

There is mixed-gauge track Chur to Ems Werk, to allow freight operation by SBB. The Italian and Romansch names Ferrovia retica and Viafier retica appear on rolling stock, but the abbreviation 'RhB' is always used. www.rhb.ch

Rigi Bahnen: Vitznau to Rigi Kulm; Arth-Goldau to Rigi Kulm: 1500 V dc, with Riggenbach rack on both lines. www.rigi.ch

Schweizerische Südostbahn: Romanshorn to St Gallen St Fiden; St Gallen to Wattwil and Nesslau-Neu St Johann; Rapperswil to Arth-Goldau, Wädenswil to Samstagern, Biberbrugg to Einsiedeln: Standard gauge 15 kV 16.7 Hz. The company trades as Südostbahn, but the service between Luzern and St Gallen is branded Voralpen Express. www.suedostbahn.ch

Sensetalbahn: Flamatt to Laupen: Standard gauge 15 kV 16.7 Hz. The line is staffed by SBB, but trains are operated by BLS. Rail-cycles can be hired throughout the year at Laupen station for use on the closed railway from there most of the way to Gümmenen.

Sihltal-Zürich-Uetliberg Bahn SZU AG:

  • Zürich HB to Uetliberg: Standard gauge, 1200 V dc.
  • Zürich HB to Sihlbrugg: Standard gauge, 15 kV 16.7 Hz. There is no passenger service between Sihlwald and Sihlbrugg.

Trains operate over the same tracks in Zürich, so the overhead wire on the Uetliberg line is offset to one side. www.szu.ch

Sursee-Triengen-Bahn AG: Sursee to Triengen: Freight only, standard gauge, not electrified. Occasional steam passenger trains operate. www.sursee-triengen-bahn.ch

Thurbo AG: A SBB (90%) and Canton Thurgau (10%) joint venture for operation of local trains in north-east Switzerland. www.thurbo.ch

Transports de Martigny et Régions SA:

  • Martigny to Orsières and Le Châble: Standard gauge 15 kV 16.7 Hz.
  • Martigny to Le Châtelard-Frontière: Metre gauge, 800 V dc, with Strub rack and third rail electrification between Vernayaz and Salvan. There are through workings over the SNCF line to Chamonix. www.tmrsa.ch

Transports Montreux-Vevey-Riviera:

  • Vevey to Les Pléiades: Metre gauge, 850 V dc, with Strub rack Blonay to Les Pléiades.
  • Montreux to Rochers-de-Naye: 800 mm gauge, 850 V dc, with Abt rack.

Managed by Chemin de Fer Montreux Oberland Bernois. www.mob.ch

transN SA (Transports Publics Neuchâtelois):

  • Les Brenets to Le Locle (temporarily closed from 31 July 2017, expected to reopen 16 April 2018); La Chaux-de-Fonds to Les Ponts-de-Martel : Metre gauge, 1500 V dc.
  • Travers to Fleurier and Buttes: Standard gauge, 15 kV 16.7 Hz. There are occasional steam trains over a non-electrified standard-gauge freight branch from Fleurier to St Sulpice. www.transn.ch

Transports Publics du Chablais

  • Aigle to Leysin Grand Hotel: Metre gauge, 1500 V dc, with Abt rack, except between Aigle and Aigle Dépot
  • Aigle to Le Sépey and Les Diablerets: Metre gauge, 1500 V dc.
  • Monthey to Aigle and to Champéry: Metre gauge, 850 V dc, with Strub rack on most of the line to Champéry. To be converted to 1000 V dc and Abt rack.
  • Bex to Villars-sur-Ollon and Col-de-Bretaye: Metre gauge, 650 V dc, with Abt rack between Villars-sur-Ollon and Col-de-Bretaye. www.tpc.ch

Transports Publics Fribourgeoise Holding (TPF) SA:

  • Bulle to Palézieux, Broc Fabrique and Montbovon: Metre gauge, 800 V dc.
  • Romont to Bulle; Ins to Muntelier; Murten to Givisiez: Standard gauge, 15 kV 16.7 Hz. www.tpf.ch

Transports de la Région Morges-Bière-Cossonay SA: Morges to Bière; Apples to L’Isle-Mont-la-Ville; Bière Jonction to Bière-Casernes (freight only): Metre gauge, 15 kV 16.7 Hz. www.mbc.ch

Travys (Transports Vallée du Joux Yverdon-les-Bains Sainte Croix SA):

  • Yverdon to Ste Croix: Metre gauge, 15 kV, 16.7 H z.
  • Chavornay to Orbe: Standard gauge, 700 V dc but to be converted to 15 kV 16.7 Hz by 2025.
  • Le Pont to Le Brassus: Standard gauge, 15 kV 16.7 Hz. www.travys.ch

Waldenburgerbahn: Liestal - Waldenburg: 750 mm gauge, 1500 V dc. To be converted to metre gauge. In 2016 the railway became part of BLT Baselland Transport AG. www.blt.ch

Wynetal- und Suhrentalbahn: Aarau to Schöftland and to Menziken. Metre gauge, 750 V dc. Together with Busbetrieb Aarau AG, the company trades as AAR bus+bahn. www.aar.ch

Zentralbahn (ZB Zentralbahn AG): Luzern to Interlaken Ost and Engelberg: Metre gauge, 15 kV 16.7 Hz with some Riggenbach rack sections. The company is 66% owned by SBB. www.zentralbahn.ch

Tourist lines

Many railways operate principally for tourists, usually on a daily basis throughout the year. The following are "heritage" operations:

Chemin de fer touristique Blonay-Chamby: Blonay to Chamby (metre gauge) www.blonay-chamby.ch

Dampfbahn Furka Bergstrecke: Realp to Oberwald (metre gauge) www.dfb.ch

Dampfbahn Verein Zürcher Oberland: Bauma to Hinwil (SBB line with no other passenger service) https://dvzo.ch/

Emmentalbahn: Sumiswald-Grünen to Huttwil (BLS Lötschbergbahn line with no other passenger service) www.emmentalbahn.ch

Sursee Triengen Bahn: Sursee to Triengen ('private' freight-only line) www.sursee-triengen-bahn.ch/

Museumsbahn Stein am Rhein - Etzweilen - Singen: Etzwilen to Rielasingen. It is intended to extend operations to Singen. www.etzwilen-singen.ch/

Vapeur Val de Travers: Travers to St Sulpice (there is a regular passenger service by Les Transports régionaux neuchâtelois between Travers and Fleurier) www.vvt.ch/

Zürcher Museumsbahn: Zürich-Wiedikon to Sihlbrugg (there is a regular passenger service by Sihltal Zürich Uetlibergbahn between Zürich-Giesshübel and Sihlwald) www.museumsbahn.ch/


Metro

A significant number of local lines around Swiss towns and cities have Metro characteristics. The Metro system in Lausanne, between Lausanne-Flon and Renens VD and between Ouchy and Epalignes, is the only one designed and built as such, though a short section of the line from Ouchy is converted from a former rack line.

A track plan of the Lausanne system is available on the Carto.Metro site.

Trams

Basel www.bvb-basel.ch (BVB), www.blt.ch (BLT: the BLT-operated routes to Ettingen, Dornach and Rodersdorf appear in the railway section of the Offizielles Kursbuch), www.tnw.ch; Bern www.bernmobil.ch; Genève www.tpg.ch; Neuchatel (the route from Place Pury to Boudry appears in the railway section of the Indicateur officiel) www.tnneuchatel.ch; and Zürich www.vbz.ch. Part of the line from Basel to Rodersdorf runs through France. An unusual tramway is Riffelalptram, connecting the Riffelalp Resort hotel and the Riffelalp station (GGB). It is 500 m long, located on altitude 2200 m, has 800 mm gauge and is battery-operated www.riffelalp.com.

Track plans for Basel, Bern and Zürich are available on the Gleisplanweb site. A track plan of the Genève system is available on the Carto.Metro site.

See also Switzerland - Tram services over obscure routes

Recent and Future Changes

In 2012 the federal government instituted a review (see Switzerland - Services Under Review) of many local train services, to see whether bus substitution would be more economic. This could have resulted in stopping services being withdrawn on some main lines, together with closure of secondary lines. By the end of 2018, no action towards closure had been taken on any of the listed lines or services. Accordingly, this review would appear to be largely dormant. This is probably as a result of its being far too wide-ranging with a threshold of lines that did not cover 50% of their costs, thus threatening closure of well-used local and tourist lines and services as well as sparsely-used lines.

However in January 2019 the cantons of Appenzell Ausserrhoden and St Gallen announced that a review of three branch lines would take place with bus substitution or automatic operation both possibilities. These lines all cover less than 30% of their costs which would appear to be the new, more realistic, threshold. The lines in question are:

  • 856 Gais - Altstätten Stadt
  • 857 Rorschach Hafen - Heiden
  • 858 Rheineck - Walzenhausen.

A decision on the future of the three lines was expected by the end of June 2019, but no announcement had been made by the end of July.

The Porrentruy – Bonfol line has reportedly been threatened with closure owing to the cost of renewing the signalling and providing disabled access, although no actual closure plans have been published.

The Solothurn - Moutier line was threatened with closure owing to the condition of Weissenstein tunnel, but in 2017 the Federal Office for Transport announced that the tunnel was to be renovated, starting in 2020.

The line from Sissach to Olten via Läufelfingen was proposed for closure, but this was rejected in a local referendum in November 2017.

The Berner Oberland Bahn was reported to be reviewing the future of the Schynige Platte Bahn, which operates from the end of May until the end of October. It is increasingly difficult to maintain the historic rolling stock, the line is only marginally profitable and there are no reserves for modernisation. However in June 2019 it was announced that the railway will continue to operate with the existing rolling stock for at least the next 25 years.

Projects under way or planned

In June 2019 the Swiss Parliament approved funding for a programme of works to upgrade and modernise the railway network, for the period up to 2035. Projects include:

  • A rail line to Basel/Mulhouse airport
  • A new line between Neuchâtel and La Chaux-de-Fonds, to avoid the reversal at Chambrelien
  • Completion of the southern section of the Zimmerberg tunnel, between Zürich and Zug
  • A new, more direct line between Zürich and Winterthur, including the Brüttener tunnel from Bassersdorf and Dietlikon to Winterthur

There will also be detailed planning of new lines between Basel SBB and Basel Bad Bf and at Luzern, to avoid reversal at the main station. The latter is expected to include a new line in a tunnel below the Vierwaldstättersee.

On the Regionalbahnen Bern-Solothurn line between Bern and Worb-Dorf, a deviation at Boll-Utzigen, including a new station, is to become operational in 2021.

Chavornay - Orbe is to be modernised in 2020 - 2025, with a new north curve at Chavornay replacing the present OC terminal platform, and converted from 750 V DC to 15 kV AC.

The Transports Publics du Chablais (TPC) Aigle - Leysin line is to be extended 780 m in tunnel to Télésiège Tête d’Aï to serve a ski lift, planned for 2023. The line from Leysin-Feydey to the current terminus of Leysin-Grand Hôtel will be closed.

The 4.7km long branch from Bulle to Broc Fabrique is to be regauged from metre to 1435mm by 2024 and converted to 15 kV.

Major renovation of the Neuchâtel - La Chaux-de-Fonds line has been proposed which would involve the line being blocked for 15-36 months, starting in 2019 (the overall scheme would be due for completion sometime between 2026 and 2030).

A 22 km metre gauge Grimselbahn link between Innertkirchen and Oberwald, mostly in tunnel including the long [8km] Grimsel tunnel, but only single track, is planned. This would connect the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn and Zentralbahn metre gauge systems. The tunnels would be shared by power cables diverted from their existing route over mountains.

In Geneva, the CEVA project to link Cornavin station with the Eaux Vives to Annemasse branch is progressing. As a first step, local trains were introduced over part of the La Praille freight branch, to Lancy-Point-Rouge (where a new station opened 8 December 2017). From here the line uses the existing freight line to Bachet-de-Pesay, beyond which a new line crosses the river Arve then runs in tunnel to the French border, at which point the existing line is used to Annemasse. The new underground line follows the alignment of the closed Eaux Vives branch. The [Genève Cornavin - ] Lancy-Point-Rouge - Genève Eaux Vives - Annemasse service is planned to start on 15 December 2019.

The Trogenerbahn and Appenzeller Bahnen lines are being linked in St Gallen. There will be a more direct exit route from St Gallen to the north of the SBB Depot by 2020/21. A new tunnel, which replaced the rack-equipped section between St Gallen and Riethüsli, opened on 7 October 2018. The first stage with a new station but two parallel dead-end platforms, one for each service with a short extension of the S21 service from Trogen opened on 10 December 2016.

A new avoiding curve is under construction at Châtel-St-Denis. The present terminal station will close on 28th February 2019. The curve is due to open in November 2019, together with a new through station.

Construction has started on the 700m long Buechiwaldtunnel, between Zweilütschinen and Lütschental on the BOB Grindelwald branch, which will allow replacement of the existing sharply curved line.

Recent changes

The SNCF line from Delle to Belfort (closed to passengers in September 1992) reopened on 9 December 2018 thus restoring this connection between the Swiss and French networks.

The new Rosshäusen Tunnel, between Bern and Kerzers, opened to traffic on 3 September 2018.

transN's metre gauge service between Le Locle and Les Brenets resumed operation on 16 April 2018 after new (BAV approved) wheelsets were fitted to one of its electric railcars.

The Mendrisio - Stabio - Arcisio [IT] – Varese cross-border line opened to Stabio on 14 December 2014 and through to Varese on 7 January 2018. It was originally scheduled for completion in 2013, but construction of the new line between Stabio and Arcisio was heavily delayed.

Basel tram line 3 was extended on 31 July 2017 from Burgfelden Grenze to Burgfelderhof on the French border, and the former renamed Waldighoferstrasse. It was extended further from Burgfelderhof to Gare Saint Louis from 10 December 2017.

The full service through the Gotthard base tunnel commenced on 11 December 2016. A period of trial running had followed the official opening ceremony on 2 June 2016. However, the full benefit will not be achieved until the Ceneri Base Tunnel (Bellinzona – Lugano) starts operation in December 2020, as gradients of up to 2.6% on the existing line limit its capacity.

The standard/metre gauge line between Wohlen and Bremgarten West was converted to metre gauge only in 2015.

Basel Tram Line 8 was extended from Kleinhünigen to Weil-am-Rhein in Germany on 14 December 2014.

The Ferrovia Mesolcinese / Misoxerbahn (Castione to Cama), which the local authorities wanted closed, last operated in spring 2014. The preservation group moved their base to Grono with the aspiration of running over a short section but have since given up all rights to operate over the line, which has now been completely lifted.

A new 2km section of line, just south of the old alignment, opened on 25 September 2014 between Geschinen and Ulrichen on the MGB Brig – Andermatt line allowed the elimination of 4 level crossings.

The new Zürich HB underground station (Löwenstrasse, platforms 31 - 34), and the line from here to Oerlikon, opened on 15 June 2014. As a consequence of this the temporary four platform terminal Sihlpost station closed and the limited passenger service over the Zürich Alstetten to Zürich Wiedikon line (CH14/20) ran for the last time on 13 June 2014.

New flyover at Huerlistein near Effretikon, carrying trains from Dietlikon over the Basserdorf – Effretikon line, opened on 30 November 2013.

The Bubikon - Wolfhausen freight only branch saw occasional excursions run by DVZO, who run regular services over the nearby Bauma to Hinwil line. Such trains ceased in October 2013 when the line closed.

A short extension of the ASm operated metre gauge system, from Niederbipp to Oensingen, opened in December 2012.

Berne tramway line 9 was extended to Bern Wankdorf station in 2012.

The dual-tracking of the Zentralbahn section closest to Luzern was completed in November 2012. This includes a 1,5 km tunnel and a sub-surface station at the sport and exhibition centre. One of the tracks has dual gauge for standard gauge freight to Horw . However the remains of KLB at Kupferhammer has lost its connection.

A 3.3km section of double track opened between St Gallen and St Gallen St Fiden on 27 August 2011. On the same day a new flyover opened at St Gallen St Fiden giving access to the Romanshorn line.

On 21 April 2011 SBB opened a new section of line through Boniswil on the Lenzburg – Beinwel am See route, avoiding 22 level crossings.

The Geneva Tramway from Cornavin station to Avanchet opened on 8 December 2007, and was extended to Meyrin-Gravière 13 December 2009. A short section from Cornavin to Coutanche was opened 12 December 2010. The final section to the north-west between Jardin-Alpin and CERN opened on 30 April 2011.

The third track Lenzburg – Gexi Jct (the line towards Wohlen was officially opened 27 November 2010.

The last train Aarau - Suhr, using the on-street section ran the night 19/20 November 2010. The new alignment, using the old SBB trackbed was inaugurated 21 November.

The Zentralbahn Engelberg tunnel (Mettlen - Engelberg) opened formally 11 December 2010, with normal traffic the following day. The old, steeper, rack line was closed 7 December.

The Meiringen - Innertkirchen Bahn was extended into the Zentralbahn station (track 3, a part of which can be energised with either ZB 15kV AC or MIB 1200 V DC) in Meiringen from 6 December 2010.

The construction of the “Western” tramway in Berne, from the Kaufmännlicher Verband stop on the existing network to Bümpliz and Brünnen station was completed in September 2010, and operation started 12 December 2010.

The third and final section of the Glattal tramway Auzelg – Stettbach station opened 11 December 2010.

Special notes

Distinctions between main line railways, light railways and tramways are more difficult in Switzerland than perhaps any other country. For example, the main line of the Rhätische Bahn from St Moritz to Tirano has several sections of street running. In Chur, the first section of the Arosa line out from Chur station is street running dual track, but not wide enough to permit trains crossing. In addition there is 11 kV ac over the street.

The Matterhorn-Gotthard, Rhätische Bahn and Montreux Oberland Bernois are among the railways running "Panoramic", "Glacier Express" or other trains with special facilities, such as observation cars. A supplementary fare is usually charged and advance reservation compulsory or strongly recommended.

Tourist railways up mountains are sometimes of limited capacity, but subject to high demand, particularly at holiday periods and during the winter sports season. In such cases it may be necessary to wait some time before being able to board a train, so it is best to arrive at the railway as early in the day as possible. When booking a trip it is often necessary to reserve a seat on a specific train down the mountain. Once the railway’s capacity to bring people back down the mountain is fully booked, no more can ascend, unless they are staying at a summit hotel.

See also