Railway shake-up for expats in Switzerland

Switzerland has long been a popular destination for expats seeking a new life overseas. Currently rated the tenth best country in the world for quality of life, according to the latest HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, the country consistently ranks highly when it comes to factors such as healthcare, the schooling system and confidence in the economy and politics.
Another factor which is often applauded by expats living in Switzerland is the very efficient railway network. Renowned for its punctuality and coverage, the Swiss railway is a comprehensive web, connecting not only the country’s major cities but even providing access to some of the most remote, high-altitude train stations on the continent. However, the country is currently undergoing what has been touted by Swiss English-language news site TheLocal.ch in a recent article as the biggest Swiss train timetable shake-up in more than a decade.
The shake-up affected both train departure times and platforms, with the new 2016 timetables kicking off on December 2015. This landmark move in the Swiss public transport system tested the notorious Swiss efficiency to the limit, with passengers warned well in advance of the changes which are thought to affect approximately 80% of the schedule in Suisse Romande (French-speaking Switzerland) as well as many other areas of the country, including Zurich.
To help confused travellers navigate the new system, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) posted details on its website as well as setting up information kiosks at its stations to offer on-the-spot assistance. Additionally, TheLocal.ch reported SBB making 350 members of staff available to help passengers on their way.
One of the reasons behind the changes is attributed to the recent opening of a new station situated beneath Zurich’s main train station, a project which has allowed a variety of additional routes to be added to the local S-bahn network as well as providing faster cross-country connections. SBB intend for the journey time between Geneva in the west and Saint Gallen in the northeast to be reduced by 18 minutes, with the quickest of these connections taking three hours and 46 minutes in total.
Another reason for the wide-scale changes is the advent of the 3bn Swiss franc expansion project dubbed ‘Léman 2030’. This innovative project will be carried out over the next decade and affect access to the area between Geneva and Lausanne. However, this will, in part, involve upgrading Lausanne station, and those seeking to travel through this part of Switzerland ought to be aware there will something of a negative impact on journey times in this region due to the disruptions.
Services are likely to be reduced between Valais and Lausanne while the route linking the latter and Geneva will take a few minutes longer. However, the project brings the term ‘short term pain for long term gain’ to mind as its completion is expected to double the capacity of the passenger trains running between Geneva and Lausanne – good news for expats planning a move to this region in the future.
If you are considering moving to Switzerland from London, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you. For more details about Cadogan Tate’s specialist international removals services from London, click here.
Information correct at time of publication.