Swiss railway bosses demand end to working from home to boost passenger numbers

Switzerland’s primary transport authority, the SBB, has called for an end to the Swiss government’s working from home recommendation, saying it has a had a devastating impact on passenger numbers.

Swiss railway bosses demand end to working from home to boost passenger numbers
An empty SBB car. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

The Swiss government has continued to advise everyone living in Switzerland to work from home if at all possible, even as lockdown restrictions continue to be relaxed. 

The SBB said late on Tuesday that it disagrees with the recommendation, which it says “has had a major impact on the flow of commuters”. 

The statement was made in a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, reports the Tages-Anzeiger

As a result of the lockdown and the subsequent working from home recommendation, commuter traffic on the SBB is at 50 percent of normal levels – despite services having returned in full on June 8th. 

READ: What you need to know about the restart of train services in Switzerland 

According to the meeting minutes, “the SBB have launched a petition to the Federal authorities to put their recommendation into perspective now that many companies are returning to normal”. 

SBB spokesman Martin Meier said “it is in everyone’s interest if public transport is used more – in compliance with the protection concept”. 

The SBB said it believes travelling on public transport is safe provided passengers stick to the hygiene and distance rules. 

Will Switzerland introduce a mask requirement? 

One option considered by the Swiss government is to more strongly advocate that commuters in Switzerland wear masks. 

While masks are recommended by government and public transport authorities, there is no mask requirement in Switzerland. 

As a result, the Association of Public Transport estimates that only one in ten Swiss commuters wears a mask on public transport. 

Stefan Kuster, who recently took over from Daniel Koch as the chief of the Swiss Communicable Diseases Department, is a more staunch advocate of mask usage in public transport than Koch. 

In an interview on Monday, Kuster said “you need masks” when referring to public transport usage. 

Daniel Dauwalder, a spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Health, said that a possible mask requirement will be discussed by the Federal Council on June 19th. 



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What is Switzerland’s ‘traffic calendar’ and how can it help me save time?

Want to know how to avoid traffic in Switzerland? This handy map will help you out.

What is Switzerland's ‘traffic calendar’ and how can it help me save time?

With narrow, winding roads and city and town centres which were designed long before cars were thought up, traffic in Switzerland can be terrible at the best of times. 

But things get particularly stuck on weekends and holidays, where people from Switzerland and abroad clog up the nation’s motorways, which can put a real dampener on your holiday plans. 

READ MORE: Swiss politicians call for ‘lost’ public holidays to be replaced

While most locals will be able to recognise when heavy traffic days are coming up so they can stay well away, new residents and tourists may have a harder time. 

To help out, Touring Club Suisse, Switzerland’s largest motor and mobility authority, each year comes up with the Traffic Jam Calendar, which lists the times of the year when traffic can be particularly bad. 

The calendar ranks days on four different traffic levels.

The standard days are in white, while slightly higher traffic days are in yellow. 

Days with a high traffic volume are listed in pink/orange, while very high traffic volumes are listed in red. 

Image: Touring Club Suisse

Image: Touring Club Suisse

The calendar shown above relates to 2022. The calendar for the current year can be seen here

When is traffic particularly bad in Switzerland? 

As can be seen from the calendar, the main days for bad traffic are in spring and summer. 

Not only are these the days when the weather is best, but they’re also peak tourist season for domestic and foreign tourists. 

READ MORE: When are the public holidays in Switzerland in 2022?

While there is not one very high volume traffic day in Switzerland from the start of September until the end of March, there are 32 from April to August. 

April alone has eight along with several high traffic days, due largely to the Easter holidays over the weekend of the 16th and 17th. In May, traffic ramps up before Ascension Day on the 26th. 

In June, Corpus Christi (3rd) and Whit Monday (6th) will both see high travel volumes. 

The situation is particularly serious in July and August however, where very weekend day has high traffic volumes. 

Even weekdays in these two months have increased traffic volumes, meaning that taking a day off and leaving earlier/coming back later will not be guaranteed to save you some time. 

Bottlenecks and delays: Which Swiss cities have the worst traffic?

Where is traffic the worst in Switzerland? 

While the traffic calendar goes into specifics about the days when wait times are worst, it says little about which locations are set to see traffic surges.

To fix this, TCS regularly releases information about upcoming holidays and where things are likely to get tight. 

In May, TCS released a map of the likely traffic hotspots for the Ascension (26th May) and Pentecost holidays (June 5th). 

As can be seen here, the roads around Zurich including the A1 and the A51 are particularly busy, as is the A1 near Geneva. 

The Gotthard Pass, often a site of traffic jams, is also set to be particularly busy. 

For holiday makers, the A13 in the east of the country is also tipped to see very high traffic volumes over the Ascension and Pentecost weeks. 

Image: Touring Club Suisse

Image: Touring Club Suisse

You can download the live road information for Switzerland as an app for iPhone and Android