Money-losing BLS Cargo lays off 80 workers

BLS Cargo, Switzerland’s largest private rail freight company, is laying off 70 to 80 employees after failing to reach a rate deal with German company DB Schenker Rail.

Money-losing BLS Cargo lays off 80 workers
BLS Cargo train hauling trucks from Germany to Italy. Photo: BLS Cargo

The deal aimed to stem losses on the Bern-based company’s trains running through the Gotthard tunnel.

Starting in 2014, BLS Cargo will operate 10 fewer trains daily through the tunnel.

As a result, 60 locomotive drivers will lose their jobs.

BLS Cargo, which specializes in hauling freight through the Alps, lost 1.85 million francs in 2012.

The company blamed low prices and the strong value of the franc against the euro for the loss, in addition to high rail access rates for the red ink.

Directly and indirectly, BLS Cargo employs about 400 people.

The company says that it cooperates closely with DB Schenker Rail for joint cross-border arrangements that involve planning the use of locomotives and drivers together.

BLS Cargo is majority owned by BLS AG, a transport group that operates passenger trains, buses and boats in Central Switzerland.

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UPDATE: Cross-border train service between Switzerland and Italy to continue running

Despite an earlier announcement that Switzerland and Italy will halt rail services between the two countries, they are set to continue.

UPDATE: Cross-border train service between Switzerland and Italy to continue running

The two neighbouring countries said on Monday that all cross-border rail traffic would be suspended indefinitely because train personnel do not have capacity to carry out COVID-19 safety checks.

However, representatives of both nations agreed on Wednesday on the need to ensure the continuity of passenger transport between the two countries.

Following discussions between the Italian Minister of Transport Paola De Micheli and her Swiss counterpart, Swiss president Simonetta Sommaruga, who also heads Switzerland’s Transport Ministry, “it was decided that the EuroCity services would be maintained, but to a limited extent”, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) said. 

Concretely, from December 10th, 2020, two EuroCity trains will run on the Gotthard axis, and two on the Simplon axis.

From December 13th, when the new SBB timetable comes into effect, two pairs of EuroCity trains will run on the Gotthard axis and two pairs on the Simplon axis.

  • EC 313 dp. Zurich 07:10, arr. Milan 10:50 am
  • EC 316 dp Milan 11:10, arr. Zurich 2:50 p.m.
  • EC 34 dp Milan 13:05, arr. Geneva 5:21 p.m.
  • EC 37 dp Geneva 07:39, arr. Milan 11:40 am
  • EC 50 dp Milan 07:20, arr. Basel 11:32 am
  • EC 57 dp Basel 12:28, arr. Milan 4:40 p.m.

Checks will be carried out at the border posts in Chiasso and Domodossola by the staff of the Italian railways.

READ MORE: MAP: Return of night trains across Europe comes a step closer 

Regional traffic

The situation related to regional TILO trains, which connect Ticino with the Italian region of Lombardy, and transport border workers between the two countries, will be more complicated.

The large number of stations along the line does not allow border checks to be carried out in the same way as on EuroCity trains. 

SBB said that from December 10th Italian regional trains will run to the Chiasso station, where passengers will be checked and then change trains and continue their journey on TILO trains.

In order to gradually restore links between Switzerland and Italy, SBB and TILO are awaiting confirmation from the Italian authorities of the adaptation of the decree which, following discussions between the parties, exempts the railways from the responsibility of border checks.