SBB moots free coffee for off-peak train users

SBB moots free coffee for off-peak train users
The SBB is responding to complaints that trains are overcrowded. Photo: ZO/AvU
Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is considering options to ease train congestion next year, including incentives - such as free coffee - to travel outside rush hours.

In an interview with the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, SBB boss Andreas Meyer said that unless more people switched to less busy train services fares would have to rise again.

“If passenger numbers keep increasing at peak times, ticket prices will continue to rise disproportionately,” Meyer told the paper.

“We have to find ways to motivate people to travel outside the busiest times.”

Meyer said he could envisage offering passengers a free coffee, a voucher or a reduced ticket price for travel at quieter times of the day.

The SBB would also provide better information to passengers regarding where and when they could find a free seat, he said.

The head of the state-funded railways said employers could contribute to easing the overcrowding on Switzerland’s train network.

“Flexible working arrangements would result in more satisfied employees, and would also mean that federal funds are better used,” Meyer said.

However, he stressed that few intercity lines were filled to capacity and was critical of many passengers’ attitude.

“Many customers feel the train is full when there are just two people in a section designed for four people,” he complained.

Meyer also justified the fact that the price of a full rail pass has increased by 20 percent within five years, saying this was due to infrastructure and maintenance costs.

Looking back over the year, Meyer said the SBB had scored a number of successes, including the adoption in a national referendum of the railway infrastructure financing bill and the opening of the new Zurich cross-city link.

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