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DB and SBB to Increase Rail Services between Germany and Switzerland

Deutsche Bahn (DB) and SBB are to further expand international passenger services between Germany and Switzerland over the medium term. This will involve the introduction of new direct services from Hamburg to Ticino and from Germany to Valais. Travel time between destinations in the two countries will also be further reduced. The two railway companies signed a memorandum of understanding on the proposals today.

Demand for international rail services between Germany and Switzerland has increased rapidly in recent years. At the Basel border crossing alone the number of passengers has increased by over 25 per cent in the past five years. Given the increasing importance of climate protection, the increase in travel by rail, an environmentally friendly mode of transport, is a trend which is expected to continue. Despite the current challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, the two rail companies DB and SBB firmly believe there is tremendous growth potential in rail services between Germany and Switzerland over the medium and long term. As a result, DB and SBB are planning a significant increase in services. Both rail companies today signed a memorandum of understanding on the proposals.

The planned increase in services will be made possible thanks to the opening of Stuttgart 21 and the completion of the Karlsruhe–Offenburg and Müllheim–Basel stages of improvements by 2026. The increase in services involves switching operation of all ICE services between Switzerland and Germany to ICE 4s, this being DB’s most modern train, and the use of SBB Giruno compositions in Germany. 

The key features of the service increase planned from the 2026 timetable are:

  • The number of direct services between Switzerland and Germany will rise from 26 at present to 35 connections a day.
  • Two new direct services a day from Hamburg via Basel to Lugano will improve the services on the north-south axis via the Gotthard route. The use of the Giruno on this line means that further direct connections from Germany to Milan could be added in future.
  • The new plan also involves running new direct services from Germany via Bern to Valais.
  • The deployment of the ICE 4 on the Dortmund–Cologne–Basel line makes it possible to provide new direct services from North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous federal state, to Switzerland.
  • The half-hourly frequency in future on the Zurich to Chur route will allow additional direct connections from Germany to Chur to be provided.
  • The journey time between Frankfurt and Zurich will be reduced by 20 minutes to 3 hours and 40 minutes.

SBB and ÖBB are stepping up their long-standing cooperation in international passenger services. 

Iuliia Tore