History

The Zurich Transport Network – Switzerland's first transport network – has been transporting passengers since 1990.

It is now more than 30 years since voters in Zurich established the foundations of today's S-Bahn: The notion of a combined U-Bahn and S-Bahn system had been rejected in 1973, but in 1981 a dedicated S-Bahn network received the green light. The legal basis for the Zurich Transport Network was established in 1988, again with the clear approval of the electorate.

1990: Federal councillor Ogi at the opening celebrations for the Zurich S-Bahn
1990: Federal councillor Ogi at the opening celebrations for the Zurich S-Bahn

Launch in 1990

After a construction period of nine years, the first Zurich S-Bahn train rolled into Stadelhofen station on 27th May 1990. For the Canton of Zurich, which had invested close on 700 million francs, this was a milestone in the development of public transport. At the heart of the S-Bahn system was the low-level station of Museumstrasse, the Hirschengraben tunnel, the Zürichberg tunnel and the stations of Stadelhofen and Stettbach. Meanwhile the Sihltal-Zurich-Uetlibergbahn network was extended as far as the main station.

Switzerland's first transport network

The Zurich Transport Network as a whole commenced activity in 1990. The idea behind the transport network may have been a simple one, but it was unique to Switzerland at the time: The various transport businesses would henceforth operate as components of a greater whole rather than individual companies with their own fares and clearly defined areas. The ZVV defines strategic objectives and approaches while taking responsibility for finance and strategic marketing; the transport companies retain responsibility for rendering the actual transport services. Higher levels of customer satisfaction more than make up for any loss of business autonomy.

Constant expansion

Success was not long in coming, and soon ZVV services were nearing capacity on certain lines. Since the S-Bahn opened in May 1990, passenger numbers have easily more than doubled.

Löwenstrasse: Zurich's second through station opened in 2014. (Photo: © SBB/Dorothea Müller)
Löwenstrasse: Zurich's second through station opened in 2014. (Photo: © SBB/Dorothea Müller)

The S-Bahn network has already undergone three considerable expansions. The tram and bus services have also each been adapted to allow more and more travel routes to be offered and more frequently so. Since 2002, the ZVV nighttime network has added around the clock public transport connections for Fridays and Saturdays and has quickly become a success. In addition, the accessibility to public transport services has continued to improve for the mobility impaired - for example, through lower floored vehicles and stops at the same level but also through ticket machines with special functions for the visually impaired.

Currently, the fourth part expansions to the Zurich S-Bahn are in the works. These investments in additional infrastructure were necessary in order to be able to cope with the projected increase in public transport in and around the Canton of Zurich for the foreseeable future. The basis for this began in 2014 with the opening of the second underground through-station, Löwenstrasse, and the complete commissioning of the cross-city link at the end of 2015. As the centre of the Zurich S-Bahn network, Zurich Main Station now has sufficient capacity to be able to cope with the projected increase in public transport for the foreseeable future. As such, the success story of public transport can continue to be written.