An announcement made on Monday on a train from Geneva to Bern left a military serviceman from Vaud shocked.
On Monday morning, after a flood of passengers boarded the train in Fribourg, a Swiss Rail train manager asked Swiss Rail employees and military personnel to stand up and give their seats to standing members of the public. Simon Hostettler, when asked to give up his seat, did so without complaint. At the same timed the 35 year old IT professional was shocked. “It is unacceptable to treat military personnel like free-riders” he said on Facebook. “Military personnel give their time to serve the community and that is easily worth as much as the train pass.”
In addition, Hostettler said: “After seeing a ticket inspector ask a military person in first class to get up, as if he was a free-rider, I couldn’t stop myself from asking the inspector why. According to him it is normal that military staff, who are not paying out of their own pockets, should give up their seats to someone who is paying CHF 7,000! Based on this logic…should those with half price passes give up their seats to those paying full fares?”
Swiss Rail spokesperson, Jean-Philippe Schmidt said “There is no specific rule to deal with cases like this, except for Swiss Rail employees. I think the train manager thought that military people are young and healthy and can manage standing for a twenty minute trip.”
According to 20 Minutes, even though military staff travel for free, Swiss Rail is not left out of pocket. Switzerland’s military pays the company tens of millions every year for the service. In 2013, the military paid Swiss Rail CHF 40 million.
To ride for free military personnel must be wearing their uniform and carry a special pass.