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Passengers to stand on Basel regional trains

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Passengers to stand on Basel regional trains
Seats like these to be removed on regional trains under pilot project. Photo: Wikimedia Commons
10:42 CEST+02:00
Seats are being removed from regional trains linking Basel and towns in the canton of Aargau under a pilot project aimed at boosting passenger capacity by increasing standing-room-only areas.

The project, revealed by the Schweiz am Sonntag newspaper, was confirmed by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) but drew largely negative reaction from rail users.

Under the plan, 24 seats will be removed from two carriages on trains linking Basel to the towns of Frick and Laufenburg (Aargau), located between Basel and Zurich.

The removal of seats will allow for more people to stand.

If the pilot project, set to launch in November, is successful, it will be introduced on other routes, with congested trains in the Zurich area seen as likely candidates.

“This is, of course, the idea,” Benno Yurt, director of mobility planning for the canton of Basel-City told Schweiz am Sonntag.

“We believe that acceptance (for standing room areas) is great on shorter trips,” Yurt said.

“That is already a reality.”

Regional trains operated in the Bern area by local transport companies BLS and RBS previously initiated similar projects.

The consensus is that passengers are prepared to stand up for trips of up to a quarter of an hour, Schweiz am Sonntag reported.

The advantages from the standpoint of the rail companies is that more people can be carried and trains can be more punctual because passengers can enter and exit carriages more quickly.

But rail passengers are not happy about the prospect.

“This project is badly put together,” said Kurt Schreiber, president of Pro Bahn, the passenger lobby group in German-speaking Switzerland, is quoted as saying by Le Matin newspaper.

“We should first of all try other possibilities: increase the number of double-decker carriages and, failing that, extend the platforms before getting rid of seats.”

Amandine Terrettaz, a longtime rail commuter, told Le Matin she had often travelled standing between two carriages because of lack of seating.

But now she has a young daughter she cannot see herself making trips like that with her child, said Terrettaz, 25, from the canton of Valais.

“In addition, the cost of the train is more and more expensive,” she said.

“The annual pass has more than doubled in less than 10 years, but my salary has not increased as much.” 

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