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Why you should not rely on trains to and from Switzerland this summer

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Why you should not rely on trains to and from Switzerland this summer
Railroad construction works are to blame for timetable disruptions in foreign countries, SBB said. Photo: SBB media

Travellers are urged to switch from air to rail to protect the environment. But international train connections to and from Swiss cities will be derailed in the coming months.

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If you're planning to go abroad by train this summer, arm yourself with patience.

The reason is the abundance of construction sites across Europe, which slow down, or disrupt altogether, the train schedule.

In Switzerland, railroad maintenance work is carried out at night in order not to disturb the daytime timetable. Some neighbouring countries, however, “have decided to completely close train lines for the duration of the works”, Swiss media reports.

As a result, train travel to and from Switzerland will be chaotic amid the summer holiday rush.

Let’s look at Italy first

One of the most popular vacation destinations for Swiss tourists will become less accessible in the coming months.

From June 9th, and for at least three months, the train service between Italian cities of Domodossola and Milan will be interrupted due to railway works, also disrupting travel between western Switzerland and Italy.

A bus service will run between the two cities, adding at least an hour to the trip in the best traffic conditions.

However, this plan is not acceptable to Swiss national railway company SBB.

“Given the scale of the work, we are considering setting up direct buses from Geneva and Lausanne to Milan via the Grand Saint-Bernard tunnel,” the company said. “We are planning around three buses in each direction every day.”

Italy’s inability to ensure smoother travel “is embarrassing”, according to Bruno Stormi, who sits on the Transport Committee in the Swiss parliament.

“When the freight train derailed in the Gotthard Base Tunnel last August, the SBB was able to reorganise the traffic within three days,” he pointed out.

The responsibility for the Domodossola – Milan disruption lies with Italy, “because the section concerned is operated by Trenitalia”, he added.

Another MP, Simon Stadler, also pointed out that “Switzerland is very dependent on foreign countries for international rail connections. Our room for maneuver is very limited in this area.”

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And that brings us to France

The construction work under way north of the French city of Dijon will result, from August 13th to December 14th, in fewer TGV trains running from Monday to Friday from Zurich and Lausanne to Paris, and back.

Detours via Strasbourg will be possible on the line linking Zurich to Paris.

Germany and Austria

Those wishing to travel by train to Switzerland’s two other neighbour countries will also have a bumpy ride.

Due to construction, trains from Basel to Hamburg will be canceled from July 15th to December 14th.

The Zurich-Stuttgart line will also not be served continuously between August 3rd and September 6th.

Those travelling to Austria must seek their own solutions when the line between Buchs (SG) and Feldkirch will be closed from August 10th to September 9th. Replacement options are still being developed.
 
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