TRUSTING market forces to produce keen prices as rival companies compete for its business, Swiss Federal Railways is withdrawing financial support for train catering. A consortium of Swiss companies SSG Restaurant Car and Rail Gourmet will be vying with Mitropa of Germany for contracts, which SBB hopes will lead to fresh ideas and lower prices.

From June 1 the SSG/Rail Gourmet consortium will provide catering on Interlaken Ost - Bern - Zürich - St Gallen services formed of SBB’s new Intercity 2000 double-deck coaches (RG 8.94 p514). Out of the 58 vehicles ordered, SBB had taken delivery of eight second class cars and a driving trailer by early March.

A new high-quality trolley service called RailBar, restocked from on-board refrigerated compartments, will offer light meals, snacks and drinks to passengers on the upper decks of the IC2000 coaches. This summer the SBB board is to consider the purchase of 12 to 20 double-deck bar/restaurant cars to operate in IC2000 formations from 1999; in their development work, SBB, SSG and Rail Gourmet are seeking a cost-effective design that will meet passenger requirements.

Mitropa is currently engaged in detailed development work for the catering it is to provide on 24 tilting trainsets ordered by SBB in July last year (RG 8.96 p515). Due to enter service in 2001 on the St Gallen - Biel - Genève route, the seven-car trainsets will each have a bar/restaurant car which is expected to be at the cutting edge of train catering technology. At-seat RailBar service is also expected to be a feature of the tilting trains. o