Conflict & Justice

Swiss Rage over Rail Tickets

choochoo.jpg

A Swiss train, an Re 450 100-3 en route from Winterthur to Zürich. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

The Swiss are known for being orderly and efficient. Things work like clockwork.

Player utilities

This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

The trains are no exception, and the Swiss are justly proud of their rail service.

But that love affair is turning sour, because of a seemingly minor change in ticketing policy.

A year ago the rail company prohibited the purchase of tickets on trains.

You can buy a ticket from a machine on the platform or by using your smartphone.

But this has led to problems.

For example, the BBC's Imogen Foulkes was fined $210 after she bought a ticket with her phone.

Her credit card transaction did not clear until after the train had left the station, so the ticket was deemed "invalid."

This kind of apparent injustice is affecting about 1,000 people per day, and the rail company is making an additional $2 million in revenue per month.

But Foulkes — who's lived and worked in Switzerland for years — says the revenue is coming at the cost of customer goodwill.

Foulkes says she's disputing the charge.