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How cuts to train services in French-speaking Switzerland will hit travellers

The Local Switzerland
The Local Switzerland - [email protected]
How cuts to train services in French-speaking Switzerland will hit travellers
A train in Switzerland. Photo: Andi Graf/Pixabay

Rail passengers in French-speaking Switzerland will be hit by major disruption for months as national rail operator SBB is to carry out a series of construction projects.

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From Monday August 14th until Saturday December 9th, 2023, timetable changes will be in force, affecting the regions of Lausanne, as well as other Vaud communities, such as Puidoux, Palézieux, Payerne and Romont. Journeys to and from the Geneva airport will also be particularly impacted.

It is due to extensive work being carried out by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) on the rail lines between Puidoux and Palézieux. 

As a result, many travellers will face disruption or have to take replacement buses or detours.

"This major timetable change is necessary to allow the complete renewal of one of the two traffic lanes between Puidoux and Palézieux (VD), over a distance of seven kilometres," said SBB in a statement. "With only one track remaining in service, rail traffic in the area is severely restricted."

READ ALSO: How Switzerland's train services and timetables will change next year

- For long-distance services, the timetables for the lines InterCity 1 (Geneva Airport-Berne-Zurich HB-St. Gallen), InterRegio15 (Geneva Airport-Lausanne-Berne-Lucerne) and IR90 (Geneva Airport-Brig) will be affected. For passengers on these routes, changes include departure times, stopping stations and connections, SBB said.

- At Lausanne, connections between InterRegio 90 trains to and from the Riviera, Chablais and Valais, and InterCity 1 and InterRegio 15 trains to and from Bern will no longer be possible. 

- When it comes to regional transport, the trains on line 5 of the RER Vaud (Vaud suburban railway) will be replaced by buses between Puidoux and Palézieux. The trains on line 9 of the RER Vaud will be cancelled between Lausanne and Palézieux. At peak times, direct replacement buses will run between Moudon and Epalinges and Croisettes (with connections to the M2 metro to Lausanne). The Moreillon stop will only be served by buses during this time.

Passengers should expect that some journey times will be longer - or quicker in some cases. Here are the estimated changes:

  • For IC 1 trains, journey times for the longest journeys will be increased by around 15 minutes
  • For IR 15 trains, journey times for the longest journeys will be increased by around nine minutes
  • For IR 90 trains, journey times for the longest journeys will be reduced by around 14 minutes

SBB recommends that passengers consult the online timetable, which has already been changed, and check whether their train is affected by the changes, and whether their usual connection will still be available.

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What about disruption later in the year?

On two weekends in November (the 4th and 5th and the 25th and 26th), new points will be installed in Puidoux station in intensive construction phases. These will simplify operations for the new service between Vevey and Palézieux, scheduled for the end of 2024, said SBB.

Train services will be disrupted in Puidoux from November 3rd at 10pm to November 6th at 5am and from November 24th at 10pm to November 27th at 5am.

The IC1 trains (Geneva Airport-St. Gallen) will be cancelled between Geneva Airport and Fribourg, and the IR15 trains (Geneva Airport-Lucerne) will be cancelled between Lausanne and Fribourg. Replacement buses will run between Lausanne and Fribourg, while buses will replace the cancelled trains. SBB said that some regional trains will also be cancelled and replaced by buses.

SBB said that instead of changing to the new timetable on December 10th, the Suisse Romande (Swiss French-speaking region) will switch back to the schedule in place before the disruption began, although there will be a few minor adjustments. 

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How much does the work cost?

The total cost of the work is 60 million Swiss francs, SBB said. 

Will there be any financial compensation?

No. SBB has indicated that it has no plans for financial compensation.

Members of the Swiss parliament, in particular Green National Councillor Isabelle Pasquier-Eichenberger, described this announcement as the "icing on the cake" following the recent news about the 2025 timetable, Swiss news site Watson reported. 

As The Local reported, the timetable that SBB is planning to introduce in 2025 will disadvantage passengers in the French-speaking part of the country. 

The main concerns are fewer direct connections and longer travel times between certain cities. For instance, it is planned that the IC5 will no longer go directly to Geneva from 2025 - instead it will go only as far as Lausanne. 

READ ALSO: Why are rail bosses set to cut services in French-speaking Switzerland?

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