SWITZERLAND - Train + bike

Key figures :
With 7.4 million people on a surface area of 41 000 km², the country is densely populated, but with no major cities (Zürich, 360 000 people, is the largest, followed by several cities of about 150 000).
The country is a federal republic, with 26 cantons and four languages - German 70%, French 20%, Italian and Romansh 10%.

    - Modal shares:
• Use of bikes 5.3% of trips / 2.1% of distances
• Use of the train 3.9 % of trips / 16.1% of distances (the best modal share in Europe)
• 8% of train users go to the station by bike (on the train: 1%). Less than 10% of users go to the station by car; 66% do so on foot.
    - The rail network: 5000 kilometers of lines and 14.3 billion traveller.km in 2006. The historical operator, Chemins de Fer Fédéraux (CFF-SBB-FFS), is the « leader of the transport system », which includes a multitude of private companies running small lines, a large part of which are narrow-gauge lines. 40% of freight was not carried by CFF in 2007.   

- Turnover of the historical operator: 7.1 billion CHF in 2005 (5 billion €), with no significant profit. CFF holds a mandate from the State for the main lines, with an obligation of profitability. The cantons and the confederation order the services for regional traffic and subsidize them. All the trains have been running with a set frequency for the past 25 years.

Train + bike, the main points :

- Budget for bike actions: 35 million CHF (21.5 millions €) until 2016, for parking.
- Historical operator’s bike policy: Very bike-friendly.
- Other operators’ bike policy: Attempt to work together to produce a readable offer (same fares for over 70 companies).

Train + bike, strategies  :

Acteurs et interaction

The Swiss State Federal Council (7 members, the equivalent of the President and his ministers in France) has set CFF’s strategic objectives for 2007-2010; CFF has been wholly owned by the State since 1905. In particular, CFF must operate as the leader of the transport system on the transportation chain (all the means of transportation used door-to-door) and combined mobility. CFF’s strategy consists in answering a demand, which is to be able to go « from everywhere to everywhere » thanks to that transportation chain, with some success. Cooperation with public transportation is maintained in order to preserve a dense, high-quality system. The railroad station is considered to be a centre for switching between modes of transportation (all modes).
A single objective: Increase the modal share of train travel as compared to driving.

CFF’s « Mr. Bike » must follow the orientations set by the State, and therefore the strategy of CFF, which is state-owned. He works with the passenger division (and closely with Mr. Car in the Combined Mobility unit), sometimes with the real estate division when dealing with the surface areas used for bike-related purposes. At present the major project is the construction of standardised parking for all the train stations.
Feedback from the sales staff or users (customer department, which provides feedback once a month) appears very useful to Mr. Bike.

Cyclists’ associations, mainly Pro Vélo Switzerland (formerly IG Vélo), work in  close cooperation with Mr. Bike of CFF, which has, for instance, made it possible to define a  standard for bike parking facilities. They are also very much involved in setting up a nationwide network of Bike Parks.

The important elements: Strong consultation between the various stakeholders (CFF, other companies, public transportation, Switzerland Mobility, cyclists’ and cyclotourists’ associations, cantons, higher educational institutions) allows integrated, overall planning and the development of a coherent system, with communication of the right information to the customer. The latter consumes combined mobility, whose purpose is to answer mobility problems.

Funding :

- Bike Parks: In general, they are funded by the cities and cantons. CFF’s contribution is very small.

- Open parking:
For open parking, as a general rule, the investment is paid in equal amounts by the townships or cantons, the Passenger division (which gains customers as a result) and the Real Estate division (which acquires the property). The maintenance / cleaning is taken care of by CFF if the surface area belongs to CFF, and by the township if the land belongs to CFF (which is rarer), or under an agreement between the two. The State does not fund anything.

CFF’s strategy consists in constructing bike parks on CFF land, for any subsequent changes are more flexible, unless the land owned by the township is more practical. Mixed  parking facilities also exist.

Cycling accounts for:
- 116.2 Million CHF (2007, 111.8 in 2006, i.e. +5%) of turnover for cyclists’ train tickets as compared with 76 million related to the sum of motorists’ tickets (35.3 million) and car-sharing (≠ car pooling; 40.7 million),
- 8 Million CHF of bike + passenger tickets (passenger taking his bike on board),
- 40 Million CHF of annual income expected in relation to Switzerland Mobility.
- I.e. a total of 164.2 million CHF or 102 million € a year (value as of 2008).
- The funding required for the parking plan for 2001-2016 is 35 Million CHF, or 22 million € over a period of 15 years.

Train + bike, offer :

The offer enables tourists to carry their bike onto the train (example: Switzerland Mobility), while the fare is dissuasive for commuters (the bike ticket costs 15 CHF, or 10 CHF with a pass), who are invited to leave their bike at the railroad station. Quality for the customer is the objective, with attempts to make « the first time » easier (building trust by means of a standardized offer).

Access to the station and travel from the station:
- city bike paths and lanes and bike infrastructures are created by the cities.

At the departure and/or arrival station:
- A single standard for both roofed and open facilities (with the Pedalpark attachment system offered by Velopa), was chosen in consultation with the associations for all new bike spaces in Switzerland. By 2012, all the main line stations will be equipped with it, and by 2016 all the regional stations. In 2007, 74 000 parking spaces existed (for 64 000 users per working day, which gives rise to saturation problems), that is, 15 000 more than in 2001. The objective is 100 000 spaces in 2010. These spaces are as close as possible to the platforms, and are easily accessible. All Swiss train stations have bike parking facilities. Part of the cycling commuters leave their bikes at the station at night, in a locked or unlocked facility, in order to use them between the station and the workplace.
- Rental is possible in the BikeParks and at about a hundred CFF stations (a Switzerland Mobility offer, in partnership with Rent a Bike).
- The 22 BikeParks (there will soon be more) are constructed by the cities under the impulse of the Pro Vélo Switzerland association. The largest is the one in Basel (1590 spaces).
- Signing for the bike services is standardised. Bike information is provided at the normal ticket windows. The station personnel is able to supply all the bike information.
- The itineraries inside the station are in general readily usable by cyclists (troughs or gently sloping ramps); paying lockers (left-luggage) exist almost everywhere.
On board the train:

- Access to the train is « sometimes a bit athletic », particularly in the special cars, which are very high and separate from the rest of the train. Bike signing on board trains sometimes lacks visibility. Bike areas on board trains are many and spacious. They are modular (empty areas at the end of a car, with or without hooks for the bikes), with an average of 8 hooks per train.
- At rush hours, only the trains in the Zürich area are barred to bikes. Otherwise, 10 to 20 days a year give rise to problems on some trains, during the summer season (500 000 bikes transported yearly in Switzerland). The problem is becoming more marked as the demand grows (+15% in 2007), especially since fare increases are prohibited (an organism keeps watch over prices in Switzerland).
There is no possible planning on the trains which would allow providing more or less bike spaces according to the season.

Information and  communication :

The offer is readable (standardised prices). Only the trains that do NOT accept bikes are indicated on the Internet and in information guides, for practically all trains do accept bikes. On the CFF web site, there is a search engine with a « bike transport » option, and an informational bike sub-site is easily accessible. The floor plans of the railroad stations are accessible on line. Bike tickets can be bought on the internet, and it will soon be possible to make reservations (which are required on less then 10% of trains only).

Customer loyalty :

Many surveys are carried out among train station users (non only cyclists) in order to monitor changes in modal shares (known in all Swiss cities as regards access to the station), the use of bike parking facilities, etc.

Obstacles identified :

The BikeParks are not profitable, and CFF does not contribute to them for that reason. Moreover, the demand is allegedly insufficient. The profitability of the BikeParks is not a priority of Pro Vélo Switzerland, which is very committed to their emergence.

Notable policies :

Switzerland Mobility :

UA comprehensive integrated offer, including all aspects of the trip. At the train + bike level, the bike itineraries are designed to be duplicated by rail itineraries, particularly as regards access, travelling one way by train, or climbing a grade by train.  CFF expects 40 million CHF (25 million €) of new train tickets yearly. 80% of the customers of the Rent a Bike bike rental network available in the railroad stations come by train. See the detailed product description.

Transporting bikes on board trains.  :

Readability, an offer on all trains, simplified ticket purchases: A single price for long distances, i.e. 15 CHF (9 €) or a reduced price of 10 CHF, reservation optional on all but 10% of trains at a price of 5 CHF, short-distance fare, half-fare second-class ticket, one-year bike pass at a price of 195 CHF (120€).

The returns in terms of image for CFF are significant. The company ranks second in the grading established by ECF, the European cyclists’ association, for train transport (the leading company of that size), and the associations are satisfied; however, the saturation of the bike parking facilities at the stations remains problematic.

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 : Michaël Röösli, « Mr. Bike » at CFF, Manager for the Combined Mobility products, michael.roeoesli@sbb.ch - Marianne Fässler, project manager for the BikeParks at Pro Vélo Switzerland, marianne.faessler@pro-velo.ch, http://www.pro-velo.ch - Christoph Merkli, head of the Pro Vélo Switzerland association.