Clock in a Swiss train station

Swiss Federal Railways maintain 92.5 percent punctuality in 2023

Clock in a Swiss train station SBB/CFF/FFS

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB/CFF/FFS) passenger trains maintained the same level of punctuality in 2023 as in 2022, with 92.5 per cent of trains arriving on time. Trains in the Swiss-German-speaking region exhibited the highest punctuality rates.

This strong performance from the previous year persisted despite a significant increase in passengers and ongoing construction projects. However, SBB expressed dissatisfaction with the punctuality figures in the French-speaking region of Switzerland and Ticino, highlighting the need for improvements.

In SBB/CFF/FFS’s passenger traffic, a train arriving at its destination with less than three minutes of delay is considered punctual. By comparison, in Germany, trains are deemed punctual if they arrive within six minutes of the scheduled time, while in France, the threshold is five minutes. Working closely with operational units, specialists at SBB continually develop measures to maintain or enhance punctuality.

2023 Swiss punctuality

Last year, 92.5 per cent of SBB/CFF/FFS passenger trains ran on time, mirroring the punctuality rate of 2022. In 2021, punctuality was at 91.9 per cent. Only in 2020, during the pandemic year, were trains even more punctual, by 0.2 percentage points. However, the challenges faced in 2023 were more significant than in previous years, with a total of 20,000 maintenance projects and 700 expansion and renovation projects undertaken. Additionally, the accident in the Saint-Gotthard Base Tunnel presented significant operational challenges. Nonetheless, similar to the previous year, 98.7 per cent of customers were able to make their connections.

Internationally, Switzerland boasts very high punctuality rates. Several factors contribute to Switzerland’s strong performance in 2023, including the dedicated efforts of staff across all divisions to ensure trains run on time. In freight transport, the punctuality of shipments decreased by 1.7 percentage points compared to the previous year, reaching 89.8 per cent.

During the first half of the year, trains were highly punctual. However, a freight train derailment in the Saint-Gotthard Base Tunnel in August significantly impacted punctuality in the second half of the year for both passenger and freight traffic. In November and December, trains experienced more delays due to various isolated incidents, such as cable damage during construction in Renens and adverse weather conditions.

Regional punctuality

The Swiss German-speaking region demonstrated the highest punctuality rates with the east region boasting a 94.3 per cent punctuality rate, and the central region 92.8 per cent.

In French-speaking Switzerland, punctuality stood at 89.2 per cent, a decrease of 0.2 percentage points from the previous year. The main reason for this decline was the lack of schedule robustness. In collaboration with the Swiss Confederation and the Western Switzerland Transport Conference, SBB/CFF/FFS developed a new timetable for 2025 and beyond, incorporating more schedule buffers to improve punctuality despite ongoing construction projects.

Punctuality in Ticino improved by 1.3 percentage points to reach 90.4 per cent, primarily due to the enhanced reliability of regional trains. However, transborder trains remain among the least punctual in Ticino. Achieving punctuality in Ticino remains a challenge until the completion of repairs to the Saint-Gotthard Base Tunnel in September 2024.

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Author: Emma Dailey

Emma Dailey is an editor at RailTech.com and RailTech.be.

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