Last year the Swiss government decided to increase the fees train operators, including Swiss Rail, must pay to run their trains on Switzerland’s rail network.
Switzerland has 4,641 km of track running as high as 3,454 metres, and one of the densest rail networks in the world. Maintaining all of this track costs a lot of money, and some of it comes from train operators, that pay to use certain sections of track at specified times. The system works in much the same way as airlines paying for landing and takeoff slots at airports.
For example, the cost of running a train at peak times, from Geneva airport to Saint Gallen, almost the length of the country, is CHF 7,986. The same trip off-peak would cost a train operator CHF 3,953. Every year these payments add up to CHF 1.1 billion and cover about 40% of total rail infrastructure maintenance costs.
The aggregate increase in these fees (prix des sillons) decided by the government is CHF 100 million per year from 2017.
A few days ago Switzerland’s Public Transport Union announced it would pass some of this cost on to train users. From 2017 ticket prices will rise by an average of 3%. Next year, Swiss rail commuters will need to dig deeper into their pockets.
The ticket price increases still require the approval of Switzerland’s price watchdog. New prices will be published once this process in completed.