There are plenty of disincentives to avoid cycling. Swiss Rail announced this week that it would aim to reduce one of these by adding more space on trains to accommodate bicycles, reported RTS.
In Switzerland, travelling on a train with a bicycle is expensive. Bringing a bike along for the ride means an extra ticket at half the price of a standard fare, which are some of the highest in Europe. For someone with a half fare subscription, bringing a bike doubles the cost of a journey. To reduce this cost Swiss Rail came up with a bike passes that cost CHF 14 per day or CHF 240 per year. These discount passes have led to a significant rise in the number of bikes on trains, adding to the challenge of finding space to put them.
Over the last year the number of annual bike passes sold rose 14% and the number of daily passes by 2%, according to Swiss Rail.
Faced with a rise in the number of cyclists on Swiss trains Swiss Rail has made plans to increase the number of bike spaces by 500 between now and 2026.
In addition, Swiss train stations have been creating more parking space for bicycles. In 2022, 900 new parking spaces were created, mainly in Frauenfeld, Bienne, Fribourg, Lugano and Mendrisio.
While Pro Velo, a cycling association, complemented Swiss Rail on its plan to make more room for bikes, it said more needs to be done to avoid impeding the growth in cycling.
The economics of Switzerland’s rail company are challenging. Despite high fares, Swiss Rail is heavily subsidised by taxpayers. The company, which is 100% owned by the federal state, received CHF 4.1 billion in taxpayer support in 2021, more than 40% of it revenue. Even with this significant financial support it lost CHF 325 million.