Switzerland is an important country located between Germany and Italy, and also borders with France to the west. These are the three primary languages spoken in Switzerland, with Romansh a fourth language spoken in parts of southeastern Switzerland. In the heart of the Alps, Switzerland is a mountainous country where the development of an efficient railway system has been a challenge. Switzerland like most of Europe continues to be connected with frequent rail service, usually with hourly memory patterns.

The Swiss railway system is known by three names and sets of initials, depending on the language. The English translation is Swiss Federal Railways. In German it is Schweizerischen Bundesbahnen (SBB), in French it is Chemins de Fer Federaux Suisses (CFF), and in Italian it is Ferrovie Federali Svizzere (FFS).

The goal for this page was to describe the typical train operations by track numbers at Switzerland's largest stations, as is done with other European countries. But generally, no significant patterns could be found for track assignments in the main areas of the stations. The major stations in Switzerland are thus covered in more general terms. But nevertheless, all of the largest stations include some separate areas with groups of tracks, resulting in some interesting operations.

The goal was to cover the stations in Switzerland's five largest cities. But more analysis was performed for Zurich Basel and Bern, as less information was available for Geneva and Lausanne. Included are English language Wikipedia links for all five of the largest stations, containing further information and history. The German word for station is Bahnhof. And in nearly every large city where German is the main language, the main station is known as the Hauptbahnhof. The French word for station is gare.

Swiss Federal Railways - official SBB Web site, English home page.

Departure Posters And Pocket Timetables - many station details are available at this page on the SBB Web site. Information can be downloaded as PDF files. Stations are organized alphabetically, many include Departure Posters which include the schedules for stations in sequence, including track numbers.

Our Stations - covering the major stations, including station maps which can be downloaded as PDF files. These station maps show the layouts, amenities, and platforms and track numbers for the stations.

Gleisplan Online - fan web site based in the Netherlands including track diagrams of various European railways. Web site is mostly in Dutch, but the track diagrams can generally be understood without knowing a foreign language.


This list is somewhat arbitrary, highlighting express and international routes.

Geneve-Lausanne-Bern-Zurich-St. Gallen
Basel-Bern-Interlaken/Domodossola (Italy)
Zurich-Arth Goldau-Bellinzona-Lugano-Chiasso-Milano (Italy)
Basel-Luzern-Arth Goldau-Bellinzona-Lugano/Locarno


Information on the largest railway stations in Switzerland.

SBB Explained
Brief history and explanation of SBB services.

The entire Swiss railway passenger network is electrified at 15,000 volts AC, overhead, with few minor exceptions. The Swiss Railways use left hand operation.

In 1978 while traveling in Europe, I made a round trip south from Zurich to Airolo, on the Gotthard route. Airolo is at the south end of the 15 km long Gotthard Tunnel. I had a Kodak Instamatic camera with me, and was trying to select the best photo opportunities given my limited film budget, in this era before digital photography. Coming back north I snapped this photo. And it was not until many years later, when I realized how lucky I was to get this photo. This is the church at Wassen, which is a notable landmark on this route north of the tunnel. I was on the right side of the train. The viaduct between us and the church looks like another double track electrified railway. But actually in about a half a minute, we will have made a right turn through a loop, and be riding over that viaduct ourselves. As we proceed downhill. And that is not all. After passing the church on that viaduct, the train would curve left again and pass on the other side of the church. The train handled this treacherous route amazingly smoothly. This Gotthard route has always been an important link between the north and south of Europe. But has now proved itself to be not adequate enough. So it became necessary to construct a new Gotthard tunnel, longer and deeper than the original tunnel. Lacking the curves of the older route, the new tunnel could become part of a new higher speed route.

Wassen/Google Maps
Mapping this landmark double curve with tunnels, using zoomable Google Maps. The satellite imagery does not do justice to how pretty the church is.