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Six big news stories from Switzerland you need to know about this week

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Six big news stories from Switzerland you need to know about this week
The book “Lord of the Rings” was inspired by the author’s visit to a Swiss village. Image by Pau Llopart Cervello from Pixabay

The slowness of Switzerland's trains and salaries of foreign workers are among the Swiss news The Local reported this week. You can catch up on everything in this weekly roundup.

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Swiss trains are on time, but slowly

Although Switzerland has a punctual and efficient train system, it is also the slowest in Europe.

The existing infrastructure is not adapted to faster trains, because it is not a top priority for the national railway company (SBB) or the Federal Office of Transport, both of which favour reliability and quality of service over speed.

They also prefer to focus on developing a dense network; this means trains can’t travel fast as they have to make frequent stops at all stations.

READ ALSO: Why are Swiss trains the slowest in Europe?

Are foreign workers in Switzerland underpaid?

Many people think so, but it turns out that highly-qualified foreign nationals employed in managerial roles not only earn as much as their Swiss counterparts, but sometimes even more.
 
This is what emerges from an analysis of data released by the Federal Statistical Office.

It indicates that wages of  B, C, and G-permit holders often exceed those earned by Swiss citizens employed in equivalent positions.

READ ALSO: In which jobs in Switzerland do foreign workers earn more than the Swiss?

Could Switzerland be ready to recognise non-binary status?

Switzerland recognises only two genders: male and female.

But what about people who don’t identify as either?

After a non-binary person, Nemo, who is from Switzerland, won the Eurovision Song Contest last weekend, questions  are arising about the country’s readiness to start registering a third gender in the civil status register.

Such a change, however, would require numerous adaptations of the Constitution, as well as federal and cantonal laws.

READ ALSO: Could Switzerland officially recognise a third gender status?

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Knife attack leaves several injured 

A 43-year-old Spaniard, attacked people on the streets of Zofingen with several knives on Wednesday night before being arrested.

In a statement, the public prosecutor's office for the canton of Aargau said the man "probably inflicted wounds on himself and, according to initial findings, displays abnormal psychological behaviour."

Prosecutors added that there was "no evidence of a terrorist motive" and that an investigation "for multiple attempted murders" was opened.

Armed with "sharpened or pointed" metal weapons, the attacker first lashed out at a passer-by at the railway station in the town of 12,000 people, about 60 kilometres (38 miles) west of Zurich, police said.

He then wounded several people seemingly at random before entering a house, police added.

READ ALSO: Man wounds six in knife attacks in Swiss town

Health insurance may pay for glasses and contact lenses

Right now, some complementary plans cover part of the cost of eyeglasses, but the obligatory insurance (KVG / LaMAL) doesn’t.

However, a parliamentary motion seeks to change that.

“The purpose of compulsory health insurance is to provide the services you need to get or stay healthy," said Green Party MP Katharina Prelicz-Huber.”

This issue will be debated during the summer session to begin on May 27, but it already faces some ipposition from a right-wing Swiss People Party,  which argues that "if we seriously want to slow down the burdensome and constantly rising health costs for the benefit of the population, we [must] show the political will not to constantly expand the benefits of compulsory health insurance."

READ ALSO: Could glasses and contact lenses soon be covered by Swiss health insurance?
 
Where in Switzerland do the motorists need to play toll?

While the motorway vignette replaces the obligation to pay toll on most Switzerland’s roads, a few Alpine tunnels still require drivers to pay a fee.

However, despite some recent media speculation, the Federal Council has opposed the idea of introducing further tolls on the Gotthard and San Bernardino tunnels, since both are public roads already funded by taxpayers’ money.

Instead, other strategies are currently being explored to combat the ongoing problem of traffic congestion o those much-frequented roads.

READ ALSO: The roads and tunnels in Switzerland where drivers need to pay a toll 

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And also:

If you are a fan of J.R.R. Tolken's "Lord of the Rings," you may be interested to know it was inspired by the author's visit, in 1911, to a village of Lauterbrunnen in the Bernese Oberland.

Tourists are still swarming the picturesque village, which prompted local officials to suggest imposing 'entry fee' ranging from 5 to 10 francs on visitors arriving by car:

READ ALSO: Stunning Swiss village plans to charge visitors to experience 'Middle Earth

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