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Switzerland’s transport industry

With a 250-million-kilometer-long road network, over 5,000 kilometers of railway infrastructure, a public transport network spanning over 20,000 kilometers, and over 550,000 kilometers of airline routes covered by Swiss airlines, Switzerland boasts diversity with its transport industry.

Other notable features pertaining to the Swiss transport industry include the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world’s longest tunnel, which serves to provide an efficient and fast means of rail transportation for goods and passengers through the Swiss Alps.

Passenger and freight rail: putting Switzerland on the map

Switzerland is known for its advanced and punctual rail network – indeed, its nationals travel more by train than nationals from anywhere else in the world. The nation’s incumbent passenger rail operator is Swiss Federal Railways, which consistently reported an annual operating income of almost 10 million Swiss francs as well as a daily passenger headcount of 1.3 million on its services for the last years. Switzerland’s light-rail system is also noteworthy: Zurich’s tram system recently ranked as one of the world’s busiest tram networks. Nevertheless, despite its impressive rail infrastructure, Switzerland’s passenger rail comprises under 20 percent of all travel by mode of passenger transport in Switzerland, while road transport still dominates the modal split.

Zurich is Switzerland’s busiest airport and has annually welcomed around 25 million passengers flying to various long- and short-haul destinations around the world over the last few years. The Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss is the most used airline in Switzerland, and generates around one-quarter of Lufthansa’s overall revenue. In the aftermath of Covid-19, however, Swiss and its counterpart Edelweiss, are set to receive approximately 1.4 billion U.S. dollars’ worth of government aid to compensate for the unprecedented loss in revenue suffered by the aviation companies in 2020.

When it comes to freight transport in Switzerland, around 30 billion tonne-kilometers of freight is hauled by inland modes of transport in Switzerland every year. Freight companies include SBB Cargo, which annually transports around 50 million net tonnes of cargo, and Switzerland-based logistics company Kühne & Nagel, the latter of which is a world leader in freight and logistics by rail, air, road, and sea. Following the outbreak of Covid-19, air and sea freight services initially suffered a backlog in Switzerland, as reduced manpower and container shortages meant that efficiency was significantly impacted. However, road freight and cross-border operations were able to maintain pre-pandemic levels.

For further information about the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Facts and Figures page.

What will the future bring for Switzerland’s transport industry?

For the last decade, the sale of alternatively fueled automobiles in Switzerland has steadily increased, potentially demonstrating the Swiss’ interest in investing in more environmentally friendly modes of travel. In addition to this, the Swiss rail network has been 100 percent electrified, and is one of the few countries worldwide to have achieved this.


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