SBB focuses 2020 strategy on technology

400SBB says it has developed its 2020 strategy in consultation with customers, employees, partners and policymakers in order to adapt the railway to a rapidly changing world characterised by new customer requirements, digitalisation, new transport providers and regulatory developments. Mobility is undergoing profound and extensive change and other modes of transport are catching up with trains in terms of price and environmental advantage, the Federal Railways acknowledged on Monday.

There is increasing demand for “personalised, intermodal, networked and simple mobility”, it said in a statement.

Targeted investments and increased innovation are at the forefront of its 2020 Strategy. Thanks to digitalisation, the capacity of the Swiss track network – already the most heavily used rail network in the world – can be increased by up to 30%, it estimated.

SBB says it is introducing a new group-wide innovation management system to promote an innovative spirit, and is establishing a CHF 12m ($ 12m) innovation fund. “The aim is to use innovations to create actual services as quickly as possible,” SBB says, but with the proviso that if they are unsuccessful it will remove them from the market.

To achieve this, SBB is furthering the automation of timetable creation, rail operations and train control and is also looking into the possibility of remote-controlled trains. SBB is designing a new digital signalbox which will reduce the quantity and variety of signalling installations, thereby cutting costs substantially.

“The railway technology of the future means that the railway system can be used in a more efficient way,” SBB says. “From 2025, there will be more trains in use, shorter timetable intervals, fewer disruptions, improved radio connections and more precise customer information in the event of a disruption.” SBB says it has launched initiatives to achieve these objectives.

Track maintenance is being digitalised using a new system called SwissTamp for status analysis and maintenance planning, which should reduce the number of disruptions and improve reliability and punctuality.

The new version of the ticketing app SBB Mobile has attracted more than 150,000 new users, and is now used regularly by 3 million customers. In the first quarter of 2017 SBB will launch a voice control function with a speaking timetable and a speaking robot to provide other information.

The new SBB Trip Planner app will enable customers to compare, combine and book a journey using multiple modes of transport. Passengers will also be able to use the app to book taxi and Uber services.

SBB’s network of around 10,500 trains carried more than 50 million tonnes of freight last year, in addition to more than 440 million passengers between 794 stations.


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