SWISS Federal Railways is to spend up to SFr290m a year on modernisation of its inter-city rolling stock fleet. Covering new build and refurbishment, the programme was launched on August 26 when SBB announced a SFr143m order for a third series of double-deck coaches. This will include 19 first class cars, three driving trailers and 26 cars with a bistro and second class seating for delivery from autumn 2000. It will give SBB 250 double-deckers, enough to operate five IC routes.

With the 24-strong fleet of ICN tilting trains due to enter service next year, SBB is keen to provide comparable standards on other IC trains. A review of the loco-hauled inter-city fleet has led to a decision to spend SFr248m over the next six years to refurbish the MkIV and Eurocity stock acquired in the 1980s and early 1990s. The money will also pay for five baggage vans from SNCF.

Most of the spend is allocated for updating 449 cars in the MkIV fleet; they will receive new upholstery and flooring and will be fitted with closed system toilets. Air-conditioning and passenger information equipment will be renovated, and in some cars the vestibules will be redesigned to accommodate cycles. The entire MkIV fleet will be equipped for push-pull working at a top speed of 200 km/h. Similar modifications will be made to Eurocity stock, and 36 cars will be converted to driving trailers; linked to this is a proposal to procure dual-system locos. SBB will also re-equip 15 MkIV dining cars for international services.

This forms part of a plan to raise standards on international routes, which in some cases will see the launch of regular interval services. Next year the Genève - Milano service will be increased from three to six trains a day, with journey times cut by up to 35min. A second TGV between Paris and Zürich will be added, and tilting trains will take 17min off Zürich - Stuttgart timings.

Timetable changes planned for domestic routes next year include half-hourly Fribourg - Lausanne and Zürich - Luzern services. In 2001 half-hourly interval services will be extended to both Lausanne - Zürich routes, and from Bern to Thun in conjunction with the BLS. According to General Manager, Traffic, Hans Peter Fagagnini, SBB is looking at long-term plans for S-Bahn networks in Lausanne and St Gallen. He also suggested that when regional rolling stock falls due for renewal in 2003-05 it may be replaced with low-cost LRVs.

Experience with the extra services introduced with the Impuls 97 timetable shows that Bern - Zürich IC traffic grew by 12·7%, with IR and IC traffic increasing by 7·3% between Zürich and St Gallen. According to Fagagnini, the emphasis now must be on higher revenues. SBB is working with other operators on a new pricing and sales system called EasyRide that should ’simplify access to public transport’. o