The once-essential little Swiss booklet

December 14, 2020, No comments

It was a little booklet that was always in my rucksack or back pocket. It was an essential tool for anyone using Swiss trains regularly. It was printed by the thousand, with each city having its own edition. And then along came smartphones and the SBB app.

When I first moved here 15 years ago, the little pocket timetable was one of those things that made me realise how great Swiss public transport is. A small timetable covering 35 destinations near and far so that you never missed a train or connection.

The Bern edition was a permanent companion for me. Yes, I knew that the trains to Geneva left at .04 and .34 past every hour, but what about going to nearby Burgdorf or Aarau? Or routes involving a change, such as Zermatt or Chur? All of them covered in precise detail.

I haven’t used the booklet in years, not since the amazing SBB app came along, so imagine my surprise to discover it in Bern station last week. Obviously not everyone has a smartphone so this little blast from the past is still useful for some, though printed in far smaller quantities.

As ever, it runs for a year from the second Sunday in December – that’s the Sunday when the new annual timetables are published, for trains and buses across the whole country. Definitely a red-letter day in Switzerland.

I now have the new edition in my rucksack, for old times’ sake. It’s rather comforting to flick through it and contemplate going to Davos or Lugano.

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