Swiss railway bosses demand end to working from home to boost passenger numbers

Swiss railway bosses demand end to working from home to boost passenger numbers
An empty SBB car. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP
Switzerland’s primary transport authority, the SBB, has called for an end to the Swiss government’s working from home recommendation, saying it has a had a devastating impact on passenger numbers.

The Swiss government has continued to advise everyone living in Switzerland to work from home if at all possible, even as lockdown restrictions continue to be relaxed. 

The SBB said late on Tuesday that it disagrees with the recommendation, which it says “has had a major impact on the flow of commuters”. 

The statement was made in a meeting on Tuesday afternoon, reports the Tages-Anzeiger

As a result of the lockdown and the subsequent working from home recommendation, commuter traffic on the SBB is at 50 percent of normal levels – despite services having returned in full on June 8th. 

READ: What you need to know about the restart of train services in Switzerland 

According to the meeting minutes, “the SBB have launched a petition to the Federal authorities to put their recommendation into perspective now that many companies are returning to normal”. 

SBB spokesman Martin Meier said “it is in everyone’s interest if public transport is used more – in compliance with the protection concept”. 

The SBB said it believes travelling on public transport is safe provided passengers stick to the hygiene and distance rules. 

Will Switzerland introduce a mask requirement? 

One option considered by the Swiss government is to more strongly advocate that commuters in Switzerland wear masks. 

While masks are recommended by government and public transport authorities, there is no mask requirement in Switzerland. 

As a result, the Association of Public Transport estimates that only one in ten Swiss commuters wears a mask on public transport. 

Stefan Kuster, who recently took over from Daniel Koch as the chief of the Swiss Communicable Diseases Department, is a more staunch advocate of mask usage in public transport than Koch. 

In an interview on Monday, Kuster said “you need masks” when referring to public transport usage. 

Daniel Dauwalder, a spokesperson for the Federal Office of Public Health, said that a possible mask requirement will be discussed by the Federal Council on June 19th. 



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