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On Switzerland’s trains there are no special perks for celebrities

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
On Switzerland’s trains there are no special perks for celebrities
Famous or not, every commuter gets the same spectacular views on Swiss trains. Photo by Chris Henry on Unsplash

Contrary to practices uncovered in Germany, where VIPs are getting special privileges on trains, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) claim to treat all their passengers the same way.


Research by German media shows that the country’s trains run faster and are cleaner when prominent people are among the passengers.

"When celebrities ride along, nothing should go wrong — Deutsche Bahn does what it can to ensure that. There are even internal service instructions for the VIP service”, an article in the October 4th issue of Der Spiegel magazine states.

What is the situation in Switzerland in this regard?

Swiss news portal, Watson, conducted its own enquiry to find out whether famous people are entitled to privileges on board Swiss trains that are not available to “regular” commuters.

It turns out that in this regard too, the Swiss are neutral: their trains are more egalitarian, offering no preferential treatment.


 As a rule, the SBB doesn’t even even know when VIPs are on board regular trains.

“For SBB, safety, reliability and punctuality are always in the foreground, regardless of who is traveling with us”, the company said. “In Switzerland everyone is equal”.

The only exceptions are trains reserved for special occasions — for instance, for official Federal Council trips.

However, even these special trains are "oriented towards the stability of the overall timetable", which means that regular rail traffic should not suffer delays or other disruptions, SBB said.

One proof that no fuss is made over famous commuters is the photo that went viral in 2014.

It shows the then Swiss president Didier Burkhalter waiting alone for his train to arrive, while writing messages on his phone.

As Twitter users noted, nobody paid any attention to him, and he was not surrounded by either bodyguards or SBB officials ready to escort him onto the train.

READ MORE: Swiss leader’s commute turns Twitter sensation

Fast-forward to 2018 and another social media post.

This one showed the then Transport Minister Doris Leuthard sitting unceremoniously with her assistant on the steps of an overcrowded train.

These two posts show that, unlike its German counterpart, the SBB provides no special perks (and in Leuthard’s case not even a seat) to Switzerland’s elite.



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