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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday

More on impending gas shortage, ‘unreliable’ Swiss trains, and other news from Switzerland on Monday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Monday
Double-decker trains have not lived up to their expectations. Image by Erich Westendarp from Pixabay

Candles could become much in demand this winter

As The Local reported last week, Switzerland is at risk of a gas shortage this winter and, depending on the situation, restrictions on consumption during the coldest months can’t be excluded.

As Lukas Küng, head of Organisation for Power Supply in Extraordinary Situations (OSTRAL) explained to Swiss media on Sunday, this could lead to electricity being shut down for four to eight hours each day in some areas.

He added that households would need to stock up on candles — clearly not so much for heating as for light.

Other possible consequences: “traffic would be at a standstill, with light signals out of order and tunnels closed. Public transport would also be paralysed”, according to Küng.

READ MORE: ‘It could hit us hard’: Switzerland prepares for impending gas shortage

And this leads us to the next question…

Which Swiss communes would be most impacted by gas shortage?

Logically, towns and communities that depend most on gas, versus other energy sources, will be most affected by the shortage.

According to Switzerland’s Watson news outlet, which based its calculations on the data from the Federal Statistical Office (OFS), the highest gas consumption in Switzerland is found the Swiss-speaking parts of Switzerland, notably in Vaud,

The 10 most gas-dependent Swiss communes, and the percentage of buildings heated with gas, are as follows:

  1. Rivaz (Vaud) (70 percent)
  2. Saint-Saphorin (Vaud) (68)
  3. Vinzel (Vaud) (67)
  4. Langenthal (Bern) (64)
  5. Cossonay (Vaud) (64)
  6. Soleure (Solothurn) (64)
  7. Allschwil (Basel-Country) (62)
  8. Lotzwil (Bern) (61)
  9. Aigle (Vaud) (61)
  10. Sierre (Valais) (61)

Double decker trains: ‘Lack reliability and comfort’.

Even though Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) invested 32 million francs in trains intended to shorten the journey on the Lausanne-Bern and on the Winterthur (ZH) – Saint-Margrethen (SG) lines, this goal will not be achieved.

SBB head Vincent Ducrot announced that double-decker trains that Switzerland ordered from Canadian manufacturer Bombardier especially for this purpose shake too much on curves, so they actually have to slow down on turns rather than pick up speed, resulting in a “lack of reliability and comfort”.

Since being put into service in 2018, these trains have also been plagued by a series of technical breakdowns and massive delays, Ducrot said.

Russian hackers attacked Foreign Ministry

The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) was a victim of phishing emails, according to a confidential intelligence document from June 24th, as reported in the Swiss media on Sunday.  

In these fraudulent messages, the content of which was not made public, Russian cyber criminals attempted to obtain sensitive data, which could serve for espionage or sabotage purposes.

However, the emails were intercepted and deleted, so no security breach took place.

READ MORE: How Switzerland is preparing to fend off Russian cyberattacks

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Swiss workers need wage rises and rent prices rise in Zurich in the latest roundup of news from Switzerland on Tuesday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Swiss workers should get wage increase of ‘up to 5 percent in 2023’

Trade Union Travail Suisse has demanded a general wage rise of between 3 and 5 percent for all workers in the country in 2023.

The rise would allow workers to cope with the rising cost of living in the country as well as to compensate workers for an increase in productivity.

Thomas Bauer an economist from Travail Suisse argues that Switzerland’s economy is in good health at the moment but workers have seen little benefit in terms of wage rises. They have only see prices rise and stress levels increase.

“That has to change urgently,” he said.

That argument was echoed by Johann Tscherrig from the Syna trade union who said: “All workers must get their fair share of the fruits of growth” as they work “to the maximum of their abilities”.

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Rent prices stable in July but increase in Zurich

Rent prices in Switzerland did not see an increase last month for the first time in a year, according to the property site Homegate.

But although July saw prices stagnate or even sightly decrease, the bigger picture shows that rents continue to rise, especially in Switzerland’s cities.

Over the last year they have increased 2 percent in Switzerland as a whole and as much as 6.4 percent in Zurich.

The canton of Graubünden saw a 4.3 percent rise compared to last year whilst rents in the cantons of Nidwalden (+7.3%) and Schwyz (+4.7%) also rose steeply.

Homegate put the general rise down to the fact that “both the number of vacant homes and the number of building permit applications are down, while demand remains high due to immigration.”

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Where in Europe have house prices and rent costs increased the most?

Wolf population in Alps growing exponentially

The number of wolves in the Alps continues to grow but there are concerns that available habitat will soon become too restricted as the population of the wild animal grows exponentially.

The organisation Groupe Loup Suisse (Swiss Wolf group) said the wolf population across the Alps was growing by 25 percent to 30 percent each year.

With around 300 wolf packs living in the Alps this summer the population has occupied around half the habitable area – given that each wolf pack needs around 250 square kilometres of territory on average.

Groupe Loup Suisse estimates therefore that the Alps has around enough space for a viable population of 800 packs.

The organisation believes it’s vital to implement measures to better protect livestock from wolf attacks.

READ ALSO: Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

Chimney sweepers in high demand

The high oil and gas prices are scaring Swiss homeowners and many are not getting ready to heat their homes with wood, broadcaster SRF reported.

With that, chimney sweep services are more sought after than ever, with businesses booked weeks ahead, especially in rural areas, where wood stoves and fireplaces are more common. But inquiries from homeowners in larger cities are also increasing, the head of the Association of chimney sweeps Switzerland Paul Grässli says.

He reminds people to have their fireplaces and stoves checked regularly by professionals to avoid accidents. “If the fireplace has not been used for years, it could be dangerous, he says.

READ ALSO: How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?

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