• Switzerland's news in English
Mobility group calls for return of overnight trains
Photo: umverkehR

Mobility group calls for return of overnight trains

Malcolm Curtis · 21 Jan 2015, 08:38

Published: 21 Jan 2015 08:38 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

In recent years, overnight trains from Zurich to Barcelona, and from Basel and Bern to Moscow and Brussels have been scrapped due to dwindling demand, the the umverkehR group says.

That’s due to competition from discount flights leaving night trains from Switzerland with just seven international destinations, a situation that is scandalous, said the group which on Tuesday launched its “Save the night train” petition at the Zurich central train station.

“It cannot be that polluting cheap flights are promoted while the offer for ecological night trains is reduced,” Aline Trede, umverkehR’s co-president and a national Green Party MP told 20 Minuten newspaper.

The group is also campaigning for a halt on the expansion of motorways to promote alternate forms of transportation that are less polluting than motor vehicles.

Trede said she plans to submit a motion this spring calling on the federal government as the owner of SBB to restore the importance of night trains.

Overnight trains should be subsidized, while planes, which contribute much more to global warming, should be subject to an aviation fuel tax, Trede said.

“Flying today is far too cheap.”

Other politicians suggest the proposal is dead on arrival.

“I do not see why we should promote something for which there is no demand,” Walter Wobmann, Swiss People’s Party MP told 20 Minuten, adding that he thought the campaign was a “crazy idea”.

Other train passengers should not have to subsidize “nostalgic” people who want to travel at night, he said.

And punishing air travellers with price increases was “unacceptable”, he said.

SBB also sees no need for action on night trains.

Story continues below…

“We focus strategically on travel times from four to six hours,” railways spokesman Reto Schärli is quoted as saying.

For longer travel periods the train simply cannot keep up with the offers of the airlines, he said.

A federal transport department spokeswoman said trains also had to contend with cheap long distance buses.

Meanwhile, international night trains are not a part of the “ordered traffic” paid for by the public sector, Annetta Bundi told 20 Minuten.

Therefore, it was an entrepreneurial decision for a railway company to decide on the availability of night trains, she said. 

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Wawrinka snubs past form to reach Basel second round
Wawrinka beat local wildcard Marco Chiudinelli. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Open champion Stan Wawrinka has reached the second round in Basel after going out in the first round for the past four years.

Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

‘Scary clown’ craze hits streets of Zurich
Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP

Police in Zurich have warned so-called ‘scary clowns’ that they could face charges, following a number of incidents in the city.

VIDEO: driver chases runaway car on Swiss motorway
Image: Neuchâtel police

Shocking footage shows the moment a man dodged lorries to chase after his runaway car on a Swiss motorway.

Saas-Fee crowdfunds low-cost season ski pass
Saas-Fee is hoping to attract 99,999 season pass holders. Photo: Denis Emery/Photo-genic.ch

Skiers could get their hands on a whole season pass for just 222 francs ($223) in the Swiss resort of Saas Fee this winter – if enough people want one.

Swiss billionaire fined for dodging import tax
Urs Schwarzenbach owns the luxury Dolder Grand hotel in Zurich. Photo: Wilhem Rosenkranz

Urs Schwarzenbach faces a $4 million fine for failing to properly declare some 200 artworks imported into Switzerland.

Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
jobs available