Cancelled lake boats leave commuters fuming

Malcolm Curtis
Malcolm Curtis - [email protected] • 5 Feb, 2015 Updated Thu 5 Feb 2015 11:35 CEST
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Hundreds of commuters struggled to make new travel arrangements after high winds scrapped passenger boat crossings of Lake Geneva on Thursday for a second day.

The “bise”, a strong wind blowing across the lake from the northeast, forced the cancellation of ferries run by the CGN (Compagnie générale de navigation sur le lac lèman).

Particularly hard hit were cross-border workers living on the south side of the lake in France who work in Swiss cities such as Lausanne and Nyon, in the canton of Vaud.

The CGN cancelled trips linking Evian and Thonon to Lausanne, as well as from Yvoire and Chens (in France) to Nyon on Wednesday and Thursday.

Regular service is set to resume on Friday on the routes to Lausanne but not Nyon, the company said.

CGN normally carries 2,000 passengers a day across the lake year-round, in addition to its pleasure cruises.

The suspension of service left workers having to resort to time-consuming trips by bus and train to arrive at work in Switzerland.

The longer commutes incurred extra expense and a passengers’ group called for compensation for those with ferry passes.

“We must pay out of our pocket for alternative transportation, such as we can find,” Olivier Simon, vice-chairman of the Lake Geneva commuters’ association told the 20 Minutes newspaper.

“For some, the costs amount to 50 francs ($54) a day.”

The CGN warned ahead of time that the sailings would be cancelled after weather forecasts predicted winds of 90 kilometres an hour or more.

But the company said that passengers with boat passes do not have any rights to compensation in the event of sailings scrubbed due to bad weather.

Company spokeswoman Corinne Bersier told 20 Minutes that discussions were under way with Swiss Federal Railways to examine possible remedies.

The commuters’ association maintains that passengers should be able to use the CGN pass on the French and Swiss rail network when sailings are cancelled.

Bersier noted that the transport businesses are not directly linked.

“It’s as if they (passengers) asked to be able to travel by plane in the case of the cancellation of a TGV (high-speed train),” she said.



Malcolm Curtis 2015/02/05 11:35

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