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Swiss love affair with rail turns sour (bbc.co.uk)
13 points by drucken 1775 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 15 comments

Strange, Denmark has exactly the same policy for tickets. We have the same service available (SMS, etc.), and tickets cannot be bought on the trains. Fortunately, they do set up plenty of machines on each station to stamp your ticket.

However, it is how our system have worked for decades, so we are more used to it. I am surprised that the Swiss went for such a quick transition, though.

Take, for example, the young man with a ticket which must be date-stamped by a machine on the platform. The machine is out of order, so he carefully writes in the date by hand, gets on board, and is fined by the conductor for not having a valid ticket.

If the ticket inspectors are going to behave like robots, I don't see why human ones are needed!

I haven't used the trains in Switzerland recently, but I used to quite a lot... being able to buy the ticket on the train was a very welcome feature.

The transition was rough. The way the tickets are handeled is draconian. There was a time when taking a ticket on the train only costed 5CHF more... Now it cost you the 90CHF fine every single time + the price of the ticket. Thankfully the mobile app is rather good and I never been fined for taking the ticket as I jump on the train. But surely you shoudn't wait a second before buying the ticket once on the train.

The SBB web-store and the mobile app are useless piles of crap. There can easily be a 10 minute delay between buying the ticket and actually receiving it -- totally unacceptable if this is really a CC check as suggested by the article. Sometimes there are apparently multi-hour delays between buying the ticket (and receiving it) and it actually being recorded in the central database. So even if you're a good citizen and buy the ticket an hour before the trip, there's still a chance you'll end up in an argument with the conductor.

Just this weekend I was going to buy an e-ticket. My password wasn't accepted. No problem, there's a button to send a password reset email. I tried that several times over an hour, and never got the email (yes, checked the spam folder). Today, the reset worked fine. Except now I have an unweildy temporary password, but the "change password" page on the website doesn't work, but just silently ignores any attempts to use it.

Basically at this point I wouldn't trust the electronic ticketing for a moment. It's a horrible thought that all this incompetence is actually malice, and they're starting to depend on the fines as a revenue source.

Are you using the new Android version? The app is not perfect but it's pretty good.

When I buy the ticket it takes maybe 10 seconds after I entered my password to process the payment (using my postcard account) and then I get the QR code ticket immediatly. Isn't this QR code a valid ticket?

It might be that the payment is yet not confirmed but I never had any issue when controlled...

Yes, I'm using the new Android app. The QR code does not appear immediately, but after a long and unpredictable delay. (This is with a credit card). So I've paid, have no proof of purchase, and have no idea of whether a valid ticket is ever going to arrive on my phone. Given the quality of SBB's data infrastructure as a whole and the strict penalties, using the app just doesn't seem like a sensible trade-off.

When systems punish people who are basically doing the right thing and supporting the system, it makes my fucking blood boil. Like if you spend hundreds of pounds on a ticket and then miss a connection and are fined because the train wasn't quite late enough and you should have teleported to your platform on getting off the train (happened to my mate, had a £180 ticket to Glasgow from down south, her train was like 10 mins or so late, missed her connection, and the conductor fined her £140 despite her breaking down on the spot and the "wrong" train being completely empty. What the fuck did that achieve, Virgin?).

But aside from moralising - the people who manage this shit are setting themselves a colossal failure in that they do not see the value of consumer trust and respect.

A rigid system which stomps people into submission is one that people will have no qualms about circumventing, which they will, brutally and with abandon.

A trusting, caring system is one that people will be proud to support, other than a few outliers.

Once you become the former, it takes a very very long time to become the latter again. See the story about the Israeli child care center.

What if further frustrating is that with today's computer/data systems, it would be easy to correlate appeals with equipment service and train schedule data, and to make reasonable allowances. (Although there would have to be enough policy and procedure to mitigate arbitrariness and bias.)

The ticketing machine was broken, and you appeal your fine? It should take an administrative employee a minute or two to resolve this.

And, reasonable preference should go to believing the customer. Not only is it good public relations, it's a good incentive to maintain equipment and to properly manage schedules and capacity.

For example, as the business, you are worried about people seeing a broken machine and deciding that they can ride for free? Well, that's a good incentive for you to fix the machine.

Good businesses don't take advantage of their customers with crap services and unfair fines, just as they expect their customers not to take undue advantage of them.

The nature of a civilized society. Something having more than a bit of appeal in Switzerland (so I understand).

I like the German approach which says, you have to buy tickets on the platform/at the station for regional trains (that often lack collector who control the tickets), but you can buy them on the train for Inter-City service, while paying a small premium. Of course the latter gives you the possibility that for short trips the collector may not come past your seat or you fall asleep right after getting on the train and the he doesnt see you when going through the carriage.

For the cases, where the ticketing machine isn't working (and you dont have the ability to buy on the train), the normal procedure, that so far always worked for me, is to walk up to the conductor who steps out to the platform before entering the train and tell him about it. Normally you will be able to purchase the ticket from him in this case.

They have been doing that for ages in Switzerland. However as the distances are short, more and more people were just taking no ticket betting that the controller would not have enough time to check all the passengers.

First read it as "Rails". Only to find out it's about some obscure 19 century tech with a similar name. Disappointment.

> Only to find out it's about some obscure 19 century tech with a similar name.

Maybe my irony sensor is low this Monday morning, no coffee yet, but trains are sexy as hell. And speaking about trains and snow, there this French comic book called "Transperceneige" that is about to be put to film by a South-Korean director: https://www.google.ro/search?q=Transperceneige&hl=en&...

Sorry, but we (people living in Switzerland) still love our trains.

Yuck. This kind of hyperobsession with rules is part of what puts me off about Nordic countries.

Switzerland isn't a Nordic country [1]; they're a western European country [2].

1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nordic_countries 2: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland

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