The Swiss railway transport network is one of the densest in the world. Switzerland plays a key role in the development of international freight and passenger services, particularly transalpine services.
Regula Hofer, Senior Project Manager Trade & Investment, British Embassy, Berne
Last revised March 2010
Whereas every effort has been made to ensure that the information given in this document is accurate, neither UK
Trade & Investment nor its parent Departments (the Department for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, and the
Foreign & Commonwealth Office), accept liability for any errors, omissions or misleading statements, and no warranty is
given or responsibility accepted as to the standing of any individual, firm, company or other organisation mentioned.
Published March 2010 by UK Trade & Investment.
Crown Copyright ©
Table of Contents
CHARACTERISTICS OF MARKET 4
KEY METHODS OF DOING BUSINESS 4
MORE DETAILED SECTOR REPORTS 5
CONTACT LISTS 6
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The Swiss railway transport network is one of the densest in the world. Due to its geo-strategic
position in the heart of Europe, Switzerland plays a key role in the development of international
freight and passenger services, particularly transalpine services. To enhance the
competitiveness of the railway system most of Switzerland?s 35bn Swiss Francs (CHF) rail
reform programme on cross border and domestic public transport and freight traffic should be
implemented by 2020.
In December 2008, the Swiss National Council has asked the Swiss Federal Council to submit
two proposals for the further upgrade of the railway infrastructure (?Bahn 2030? programme) in
the amount of 21 respectively 12 bn CHF. The consultation phase will last until 2010; the final
decision is subject to vote taken by the Swiss electorate.
The Federal Authorities allot approximately 2bn Swiss Francs annually to the Swiss railway
operators whereof a third to passenger and freight traffic and two-thirds to infrastructure.
Rail reform programme Bahn 2000 Phase I
SBB?s major rail reform programme Bahn 2000 phase I is almost complete and the transalpine
base tunnel Lötschberg ? one of two high-speed links being built under the Alps
(www.blsalptransit.ch) ? was opened for traffic in December 2007. The opening of the 34.6km
tunnel and the introduction of a new timetable will reduce journey times considerably from
many parts of the country to the southwest.
The construction the second high capacity transalpine base tunnel St. Gotthard is well
underway and is due to open in 2017 (www.alptransit.ch). With a length of 57 km, the new rail
tunnel will be the longest of its kind in the world.
Rail reform programme Bahn 2000 Phase II
The second phase of the ?Bahn 2000? programme will be implemented between 2010 and
2020. Its key projects are:
Passenger traffic integration into the European high-speed network is of great strategic
importance to Switzerland. This is achieved through continuous improvement of the high-speed
network to the centres of the neighbouring countries, as well as the gradual upgrading of the
Further national large-scale projects of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) are:
? Altstetten?Zurich Main Station?Oerlikon cross-city link (www.sbb.ch)
? CEVA ? a new rail link for the Lake Geneva Region (www.ceva.ch)
? Ferrovia Lugano-Mendrisio-Varese-Malpensa (www.sbb.ch)
? Expansion of Zurich S-Bahn train services (www.zvv.ch)
To increase network capacity, SBB is introducing new technologies including the following
? Automation and harmonisation of signal boxes for centralised train control.
? Implementing the European Train Control System (ETCS), including in-cab signalling.
? Global System Mobile for Railways (GSM-R), a new data transmission network.
To bring noise emissions within the legal limits by 2015, one of the operators? first priority is to
upgrade their rolling stock.
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The rail reform programme on cross border and domestic public transport and freight traffic
offers a wide range of opportunities for UK companies to win stakes in the ongoing process,
even though Switzerland has strong domestic suppliers.
A key method for UK companies to enter the Swiss market is through Swiss public
procurement: all Swiss railway undertakings, SBB, private railways, and municipal railways are
committed to operate public purchasing policies. Public tenders are fed in the Swiss Official
Gazette of Commerce. Detailed information are on www.shab.ch.
UKTI publishes international business opportunities gathered by our network of British
Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates worldwide. These opportunities appear in the
Opportunities portlet on the relevant sector and country pages on the UKTI website. By setting
up a profile you can be alerted by email when relevant new opportunities are published. New or
updated alert profiles can be set in My Account on the website.
CHARACTERISTICS OF MARKET
Besides the joint-stock company wholly owned by the Swiss Confederation - the Swiss Federal
Railways SBB ? there are 39 private railway companies operating in Switzerland. The railroads
of Switzerland have a length of 5,024 km whereof more than two-thirds are standard gauge.
Nearly all of the Swiss standard gauge railroads are part of the nationwide SBB network, which
also includes affiliated lines such as BLS (Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon).
Three-quarters of the public transport falls on railways amounting to 18bn passenger kilometres
annually, of which 15.1bn alone are provided by SBB. SBB transports 306 million passengers
annually. The net tonne-kilometres of its subsidiary SBB Cargo AG - Switzerland?s leading
provider of rail freight services ? amount to 13.37bn per annum.
The transalpine rail freight traffic passing through Switzerland amounts to 25.3 million tonnes
annually, which equates a share of 65% of all transalpine freight traffic and makes the Swiss
rail routes one of the densest in the world.
Key players in the Swiss market
? Schweizerische Bundesbahnen SBB (www.sbb.ch)
? SBB Cargo (www.sbbcargo.ch)
? Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon BLS (www.bls.ch)
? BLS Cargo (www.blscargo.ch)
Major manufacturers of rolling stock
? Stadler Rail (www.stadlerrail.ch)
? Bombardier Transportation (www.transportation.bombardier.com)
? Alstom (Schweiz) AG (www.ch.alstom.com)
KEY METHODS OF DOING BUSINESS
Even though Switzerland is not a member state, the European Union is by far the most
important trading partner of Switzerland. However, while Switzerland shares close contractual
ties with the EU, the country has its own established standards and regulations, which are not
necessarily, but more often than not, valid within the European Community. The Swiss
Standards Association, SNV provides manufacturers with guidance on local standards and
serves as the link to relevant European (CEN) and international organisations (ISO)
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Switzerland encompasses three main languages (German, French, Italian) and even though
English is widely spoken it is important to have any documentation available in at least one of
the official national languages.
In general, quality and technical criteria are more important than price in bid decisions. If you
wish to establish a long-term relationship with Swiss customers you should be prepared to
satisfy the demands and requirements, provide evidence of flexibility and a high level of service,
and express commitment to the market. It is essential that products are supplied on schedule
and in accordance with the contracted details. Ongoing communication and feedback between
supplier and customer is another important aspect.
Other background information on doing business in Switzerland can be found on UKTI?s
website. Simply go to Switzerland?s country page where you will find information on:
? Economic background and geography
? Customs & regulations
? Selling & communications
? Contacts & setting up
? Visiting and social hints and tips
MORE DETAILED SECTOR REPORTS
Research is critical when considering new markets. UKTI provides market research services
which can help UK companies doing business overseas including:
? Overseas Market Introduction Service (OMIS). Bespoke research into potential
markets, and support during your visits overseas
? Export Marketing Research Scheme. In-depth and subsidised service administered
by the British Chambers of Commerce on behalf of UKTI
Contact your local International Trade Adviser if you are interested in accessing these services,
or for general advice in developing your export strategy.
When considering doing business in Switzerland, it is essential to obtain legal, financial and
taxation advice. For further details, please contact:
Senior Project Manager Trade & Investment
Tel: +41 (0)31 359 7742
Fax: +41 (0)31 359 7701
Swiss Industry Magazine Edition Colibri AG
Tel: +41 (0)31 335 5753
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Eisenbahnrevue International or Schweizer Eisenbahnrevue
Tel: +41 (0)41 429 7070
Other sources of information
? Swiss Rail
Non-profit Swiss rail industry association (www.swissrail.com)
? VoeV Verband öffentlicher Verkehr
Representative organisation for all public transport undertakings (www.voev.ch)
Information service for public transport (www.litra.ch)
Exhibition on transport, rolling stock, equipment and maintenance
7 - 10 December 2010, BEA Expo Berne, Switzerland
UK Trade & Investment?s Tradeshow Access Programme (TAP) can help eligible UK businesses
take part in overseas exhibitions. Attendance at TAP events offers significant benefits:
? possibilities for business opportunities both at the show and in the future
? a chance to assess new markets and develop useful contacts
? grants are available if you meet the criteria
? UKTI staff overseas will be available to assist delegates
Find out if you are eligible to apply to attend this event, and more about the support UKTI can
offer, on the UKTI Market Entry web page.
Details of TAP events can be found in the Events portlet on the Switzerland page.
Other Market Visit Support may be available via your local International Trade Advisor.
Senior Project Manager Trade & Investment
Tel: +41 31 359 7742
Fax: +41 31 359 7701
UKTI?s International Trade Advisers can provide you with essential and impartial advice on
all aspects of international trade. Every UK region also has dedicated sector specialists who can
provide advice tailored to your industry. You can trace your nearest advisor by entering your
postcode into the Local Office Database on the homepage of our website.
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For new and inexperienced exporters, our Passport to Export process will take you through the
mechanics of exporting. An International Trade Adviser will provide professional advice on a
range of services, including financial subsidies, export documentation, contacts in overseas
markets, overseas visits, translating marketing material, e-commerce, subsidised export training
and market research.
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