Infobox SG rail
railroad_name = SBB-CFF-FFS
logo_filename = SBB-CFF-FFS logo.png logo_size = 200

map_caption =
marks =
locale = Switzerland
start_year = 1 January 1902
end_year = present
predecessor_line =
successor_line =
gauge = Standard
length =
hq_city = Bern

Swiss Federal Railways (German: SBB, Schweizerische Bundesbahnen; French: CFF, Chemins de fer fédéraux suisses; Italian: FFS, Ferrovie federali svizzere; Romansh: Viafiers federalas svizras; the abbreviations VFS (Romansh) and SFR (English) are not in official use) is the national railway company of Switzerland headquartered in Berne. Formerly a state-owned enterprise, since 1999 it has been a special stock corporation with all its shares held by the Swiss Confederation or Swiss Cantons. By the end of 2006, the corporation was handed over from the long-term CEO Benedikt Weibel to his successor Andreas Meyer.

The Swiss Federal Railways are divided into three divisions and two groups:
* Passenger traffic
* Freight traffic (SBB Cargo AG)
* Infrastructure
* Real estate
* Core services (finances, personnel)

The corporation is led in an enterpreneural manner. A performance agreement between the Swiss Federal Railways and the Swiss Confederation defines the requirements and is updated every four years. At the same time the compensation rates per train and track kilometre are defined.

The subsidiary SBB GmbH is responsible for passenger traffic in Germany. It operates the Wiesentalbahn and the Seehas services.

Further subsidiaries are Thurbo, RegionAlps, AlpTransit Gotthard AG, Cisalpino AG and TiLo (the latter in consortium with Italian authorities). The Swiss Federal Railways hold significant shares of the Zentralbahn and Lyria.

To take care of the historical heritage, the Stiftung Historisches Erbe der SBB ("SBB Historic") was founded in 2002. This foundation takes care of the historic rolling stock and runs a technical library in Berne, a historic archive, a photo archive and the poster collection of the Swiss Federal Railways.


* Travellers per year (2006): 285.1 million
* Freight per year: 60 million tons
* Length of railway network: about 3000 km in standard gauge (until 2005 also 74 km metre gauge)
* Stations: 824
* Stations open to passengers: 760
* Stations with freight traffic: 452
* Companies connected to private sidings: about 2500
* Parking capacity at stations: 23,685 cars
* Employees: 27,933
* Puncutality (2006): 96.2% of all trains and 95.9% of the trains running on workdays with less than 5 minutes of delay
* Subsidies for operation, maintenance of assets and construction investments (2007-2010): 5.88 billion Swiss francs

The rail network of the Swiss Federal Railways is almost totally electrified. The metre gauge Brünigbahn was the only non-standard gauge railway line of the Swiss Federal Railways. It was out-sourced and merged with the Luzern-Stans-Engelberg-Bahn to form the Zentralbahn, in which the Swiss Federal Railways hold shares.


In the 19th century, all Swiss railways were owned by private ventures. The economic and political interests of these companies led to lines being built in parallel and in the subsequent ruinous competition, some companies were driven into bankruptcy. On 20 February 1898 the Swiss people agreed in a referendum to the creation of a state-owned railway company. The first train running on the account of the Swiss Confederation ran during the night of New Year's Day in 1901 from Zurich via Berne to Geneva. January 1 1902 is regarded as the official birth date of the Swiss Federal Railways. In the meantime, the trains were run by the Swiss Confederation on behalf of the private companies.

The following railway companies were nationalised:
*Aargauische Südbahn (ASB)
*Bötzbergbahn (BöB)
*Schweizerische Nordostbahn (NOB)
*Schweizerische Centralbahn (SCB)
*Toggenburgerbahn (TB)
*Vereinigte Schweizerbahnen (VSB)
*Tösstalbahn including the Wald-Rüti Railway (WR)
*Wohlen-Bremgarten Railway (WB)
*Jura-Simplon-Bahn (JS) including the Brünigbahn (the latter in 1903)

Other companies were included later, and the rail network was extended. It is still growing today.

First class compartments were discontinued on 3 June 1956, and second and third class accommodation was reclassified as first and second class.

In 1982 SBB-CFF-FFS introduced the "Taktfahrplan" ("regular interval schedule"), with trains for certain destinations leaving every 60 minutes, greatly simplifying the timetable.

On December 12 2004 the first phase of Rail2000, an ambitious programme to improve the company's services, was put into effect. The core element was the Zurich-Berne-Basel triangle, where travel times between the cities was reduced to under one hour, resulting in good connections from these stations for most trains. Some connections between cities got two trains in each direction per hour or more, and the S-Bahn services were intensified to four or more trains per hour. Because of these changes 90% of the timetable was changed, 12% more trains were scheduled and travel times generally improved. It was the greatest timetable change since the introduction of the Taktfahrplan.

For this change to be possible, large parts of the infrastructure had to be modified and many stations were rebuilt, for instance the line from Ziegelbrücke to Sargans or Berne main station which got the "wave of Berne", a platform over the tracks to provide better access to the platforms and the city centre.

On 22 June 2005 a short circuit on a long distance power transmission line in central Switzerland led to a chain reaction. The entire Swiss Federal Railways network was out of service during rush hour and an estimated 200,000 people and 1500 trains were stuck at stations or somewhere on the track. It turned out that the power transmission network of the SBB-CFF-FFS was overloaded and did not provide enough redundancy to tolerate the shutdown of the 4 cable Amsteg-Steinen power line due to construction works. So, the power grid was split in two parts, the northern half being overloaded and the southern half having a load reduction for the SBB power plants are situated in the southern part (the Alps), while most of the power is needed in the northern part (the Swiss plateau). The situation led to high voltage fluctuations and finally breakdown and emergency shutdown of the entire power supply.

In the same year, the Swiss Federal Railways received the Wakker Prize, an award given out by the Swiss Heimatschutz (an institution aiming to preserve the view of cities and villages in terms of buildings), which is usually only granted to communes, for their extraordinary efforts. The Swiss Federal Railways have many high-class {listed) buildings from well-known architects such as Herzog & de Meuron, Santiago Calatrava or Max Vogt.

Since the timetable change of 11 December 2005 all trains and most buildings are non-smoking.

Rolling Stock

"See also ‎List of stock used by Swiss Federal Railways"

Mainline locomotives

Steam engines of the early days of the Swiss federal railways were, among others, the Ed 2x2/2, E 3/3, A 3/5, B 3/4 and C 5/6.

The first electric trial runs using single-phase alternating current were made in 1903 on the line Seebach - Wettingen together with the Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon (MFO), using the future Ce 4/4 locomotives ("Eva" and "Marianne"). The electrification of the network started 1919, motivated by the coal shortages during the First World War, and new electric locomotives were introduced: Ce 6/8 II/Ce 6/8 III "Crocodile" (1920/1926), Be 4/6 (1920), Be 4/7 (1921), Ae 3/6 I (1921), Ae 3/6 II (1924), Ae 3/6 III (1925), Ae 4/7 (1927) and Ae 4/6 (1941). A shift of paradigms happened in 1946, when the age of modern bogie-based locomotives without trailing axles started with the Re 4/4 I (1946), followed by the Ae 6/6 (1952), Re 4/4 II/Re 4/4 III (1964/1971), Re 6/6 (1972), Re 450 (1989) and Re 460/Re 465 "Lok 2000" (1992/1994).

The delivery of the last Re 465 marked the end of the Swiss locomotive industries with the closure of the Swiss Locomotive and Machine Works. The Swiss Federal Railways were split into three divisions - Passenger, Freight and Infrastructure, each with independent locomotive supply policies. Because the Passenger division got all modern Re 460 and opted for multiple unit trains, mainline locomotives were bought only by the Cargo division, namely Re 482 "Traxx F140 AC" (2002), Re 484 "Traxx F140 MS" (2004) and Re 474 "ES64 F4" (2004).

Multiple units

The first multiple units originated from the Seetalbahn, which was formed in 1922. Larger series were uncommon until after 1950: Be 4/6 (1923), De 4/4 (1927), BDe 4/4 (1952), RBe 4/4 (1959), RBDe 560 "NPZ" (1984) and RABe 520 "GTW" (2002).

The first multiple unit trainsets were bought for the introduction of the Taktfahrplan on the line Zürich–Meilen–Rapperswil in 1967: RABDe 12/12 "Mirage" (1965) and RABDe 8/16 "Chiquita" (1976). Multiple unit trainsets started to prevail in the 1990s, especially for commuter traffic: RABDe 500 "ICN" (1999), RABe 523 (et al) "FLIRT" (2004) and RABe 514 "DTZ" (2006). While locomotive-hauled trains are rarely seen in commuter traffic nowadays, they are still the usual in intercity traffic.

Some of the most popular historic multiple unit trainsets are the Roten Pfeile ("Red Arrows") (RAe 2/4) and the "Churchill-Pfeil" (RAe 4/8). In international traffic the Trans-Europ-Express (TEE) diesel trainsets appeared in 1957, but were quickly replaced by four-systems electric trainsets RAe TEEII in 1961.


Switzerland has four official languages. The SBB operates in three languages, as the SBB does not serve the Romansh-speaking part of Switzerland; that area is served by the RhB. Stations are usually named with the abbreviation corresponding to, and signposted exclusively in, the language of the locality. Trains are labelled "SBB CFF FFS".

Announcements for local trains are made in the local language, those for long-distance trains and for trains which cross the language border in both appropriate languages. Long-distance trains to and from airports also have announcements in English.


The SBB has the following services:

* R: Regio (Regionalzug): stops at all stations
* S: S-Bahn/RER (Commuter train): same as Regio, but organized as a network around the major cities, with several lines and generally more frequent service.
* RE: RegioExpress
* IR: InterRegio,
* IC: InterCity: stops at major cities (Geneva, Lausanne, Fribourg etc.)
* ICN: InterCity Tilting Train
* CityNightLine: specially equipped night trains to
** the Netherlands (from Germany and/or Zürich)
** Austria (from Frankfurt)
** Denmark (from Zürich, summertime)
** Germany (from within Germany and/or Switzerland and/or the Netherlands)
* Extra: Charter train or special train added when an exceptionally big traffic is expected.

Regional trains are sometimes operated by another Swiss railways operator (for example, the Bern S-Bahn services operated by the BLS.) "(CityNightLine is a Zürich-based night train operator, and a partner of the SBB.)"

The SBB also operates international EuroCity and EuroNight trains while within Switzerland.


* Swiss Rail codeshares with American Airlines and Swiss International Airlines out of Zürich International Airport in Zürich.

ee also

*Rail transport in Switzerland
*List of stock used by Swiss Federal Railways

External links

* [ English SBB-CFF-FFS website]
** [ Network map (SBB and non-SBB routes)]
* [ The SBB cargo website]
* [ The CityNightLine website in German, Dutch, or English]
* [ The electric locomotives type Re4/4II of the Swiss federal and private railways]

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