Commuters stuck in trains without electricity

Heat took its toll on morning rail commuters on Geneva-Lausanne and Olten-Zurich routes on Friday as trains were blocked due to problems with overhead electrical wires.

Commuters stuck in trains without electricity
Photo: Kecko

Trains between the two cities were cancelled because of the technical problem, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) said.

But passengers were caught on one train that was stuck between stations without electricity or air conditioning as a heat wave in Western Switzerland moved into its third day with temperatures topping 35 degrees.

“It’s been more than 30 minutes since we were blocked between Rolle and Allaman,” one passenger told 20 Minutes newspaper.

“There’s no electricity and it’s starting to get really hot.”

Conductors passed around bottles of water to passengers, he said.

SBB used shuttle buses to replace regular train service as engineers made repairs to the overhead line.

A similar situation occurred on the route between Olten and Zurich, where an overhead wire fell onto the tracks, impacting region train service.

Trains on major routes were rerouted via Brugg in the canton of Aargau.

SBB used buses to replace regional trains during the morning rush hour.

The disruptions occurred as Swiss residents prepare for several more days of sweltering conditions, with temperatures set to rise to 37C in Basel on Friday afternoon and 36C in Geneva.

MeteoSwiss, the national weather office, predicted that the country’s major cities will see temperatures in the mdi-30s until at least Tuesday, with a high of 39 expected in Basel on Sunday when thunderstorms are expected in some regions.

The hot weather, coinciding with the start of school holidays in many cantons, has brought throngs to lakeside beaches and rivers.

A 19-year-old boy died while cooling off in the Aar River in the canton of Solothurn on Thursday afternoon, police said.

The bather got into difficulties in a section of the river in Schönenwerd, cantonal police said.

He was rescued by a helicopter crew and transported in critical condition to hospital, where he died on Friday, police said.

An investigation has been launched into the cause of the accident. 

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‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

As temperatures climb again, many people may struggle to get a good night's sleep in Switzerland. Here are some expert tips to help you even when it's sweltering hot.

‘Don’t sleep naked’: How to get a good night’s sleep in a Swiss heatwave

Switzerland’s summers tend to get hotter and this season has seen its share of heatwaves, bringing temperatures closer to 40C and making it almost impossible to sleep.

This could mean trouble for residents of a country better prepared to bear the cold weather than the extreme heat.

The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) has three ‘golden rules’ for how to make it through heatwaves; avoid exercise during the hottest part of the day, keep the heat out of your house however you can, drink and eat smart (fresh foods and lots of water).

With night temperatures in some regions above 20C, Swiss residents will also need some help getting through the night.

Here are a few tips to keep cool overnight and enjoy better sleep despite the heat of the night.

Don’t sleep naked

It’s tempting to ditch the PJs when it’s this warm overnight. But sleep experts say this is a mistake, as any moisture from sweat accumulates on your body.

Cotton pyjamas and cotton sheets are very effective in absorbing and removing sweat from your body.

Give a little help to your internal clock

Many people think that it is only the extreme heat in summer making your sleep seem a bit worse than in the colder months. But the fact that days are brighter for longer makes a huge difference.

READ ALSO: How Switzerland’s largest cities are combating the heat

As light suppresses our body’s production of melatonin, the hormone that signals that it is time to sleep, the longer days irritate our internal clock, according to sleep experts.

The old tip of turning off your devices to avoid the blue light is also extra crucial. So around one hour before going to bed, you can start your “darkening” ritual throughout your home.

In that sense, it’s also better to avoid naps during the day to keep a better sleep routine.

Try to cool your room and yourself

Of course, the cooler temperatures are in your bedroom when you go to sleep, the better. You can help get temperatures a few degrees down by following these tips: keep the blinds and windows shut during the worst of the day and ventilate the cooler night breeze during the night.

Sleeping during a heatwave can be difficult. Photo: Yuris Alhumaydy / Unsplash

You can also moisten your curtains just before bedtime and leave the window open; the water evaporation will make it a bit cooler. If you can, another tip is to put your mattress on the floor as hot air rises – excellent advice for those sleeping on a bunk bed.

Don’t forget to turn off (and unplug!) electrical appliances, as those are heat sources.

READ ALSO: Eight great swimming spots to escape the Swiss summer heat

To cool yourself, you could take a lukewarm evening shower (not a hot one, those will make your body react by generating heat).

Fans and humidity help

As long as you’ve kept your room relatively cool, fans work. They help evaporate sweat which, in turn, helps your body regulate its temperature.

Putting a bowl of ice in front of the fan can also help cool the room.

Some people swear by dampening their sheets before going to bed. But if you’re not used to it, the feeling can be a little disconcerting. You can also place multiple ice containers in the corners of your room, which will melt slowly overnight and cool the air.

Why is it essential to have a good night’s sleep?

Several days of scorching temperatures can cause heat stress, according to the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute.

If the nights are not cool enough, the body can’t recover from the heat of the day, creating a dangerous condition called “thermal stress”, which can be fatal for the elderly and other vulnerable people.

While there are no statistics showing how many people have fallen victim to heat stress during the most recent heatwave, several cantons have implemented a system of home visits and frequent phone contact with this at-risk group.

READ MORE: How to keep your cool during Switzerland’s heatwave