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Train fares will not increase this year: SBB

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Train fares will not increase this year: SBB
Photo: SBB
11:07 CET+01:00
Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) pledged on Thursday not to raise train fares this year following positive results for 2014 with higher ridership and increased profit.

The number of passengers transported last year rose 3.7 percent, with an average of 1.18 people boarding Swiss trains daily, the state-owned operator said in a statement.

The number of passenger-kiolometres travelled grew by 2.6 percent to 18.2 billion.

SBB’s profit jumped to 373 million francs ($393 million) from 238 million francs in 2013, aided by gains in real estate transactions.

The rail carrier also benefited from the first profit in the history of its SBB Cargo division, which carried 18 percent more freight last year, amounting to 14.5 billion tonne-kiloemetres.

New markets and an increase in volumes carried for existing customers accounted for the higher amount hauled, SBB said.

The rail company said its improved punctuality in 2014, when 87.7 percent of trains arrived on time or within three minutes of schedule, up from 87.5 percent in the previous year.

The SBB said it continues to hold the record for the most punctual trains in Europe, a title it has held for several years.

The company’s debt continued to rise, reaching 7.7 billion francs at the end of 2014, up from 7.5 billion francs in 2013.

But it said its capacity to cover the debt has improved.

However, the SBB raised concerns about the impact of the strong Swiss franc, particularly on tourist traffic and freight passing through Switzerland from countries to the north to Italy.

“Further efficiency improvements and structural adjustments are necessary in the areas most highly impacted by the currency's strength,” it said.

SBB said it decided to hold the line on fares to “lower the impact on customers” of the strong franc.

It said the introduction of the SwissPass smart card in August 2015 would allow the company to “boost marketing of tourist destinations”.

Among future developments, SBB noted the introduction of a full-scale timetable change at the end of the year and the launch of a second stage of a cross-city line in Zurich designed to boost capacity and enable faster east-west connections.

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