The state-owned rail operator needs 40 locomotive drivers urgently and it has hired a recruiter, Basel-based MEV Schweiz, to find qualified candidates from outside the country.
The market for train drivers from Switzerland “has dried up”, SBB spokeswoman Leah Meyer told the weekly newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag.
The rising demand for drivers is a result of numerous upgrading projects in the rail network that are influencing the work days for drivers, and due to new training needed for the European Train Control System (ETCS) safety requirements, SBB says.
MEV Schweiz is expected to seek candidates in Germany.
The company was chosen because it is best placed to provide staff quickly and with the level of skills necessary, SBB spokesman Frédéric Revaz told the ATS news agency.
SBB acknowledged last November being short as many as 50 drivers a day, and they were anticipating recalling retired drivers.
Retrospectively, it appears that not enough apprentice drivers were engaged two years ago to meet today’s needs, Revaz told ATS.
“The training takes a long time and the need for staff is therefore difficult to predict in advance,” he said.
SBB employs around 3,000 train drivers, most of them trained in-house.