Wednesday 19 June 2024

Customer Experience (CEMP) technical visit to Switzerland

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How does SBB enhance customer-centric operations and improve the overall customer experience? These were the key questions addressed during the recent UIC CEMP project technical visit, hosted by SBB in Switzerland and attended by representatives from Luxembourg, Spain, Belgium, Slovenia, Hungary and the Netherlands.

The visit kicked off on 12 June 2024, at Zurich Airport, where participants were greeted in front of the SBB Travel Centre. Jörg Ostwald, Head of Product, Services and Events in the Passenger Department at Swiss Railways, introduced the “SWISS Air Rail” intermodal offer, highlighting Switzerland’s seamless integration of air and rail travel. This introduction set the stage for a day filled with insightful presentations and tours.

The group then travelled to Zurich HB (Zurich Central Station) for a hands-on experience with two of SBB’s newest flagship trains, the Giruno and RABe512 (IR Dosto) models. These visits showcased the advanced design, functionality and passenger comfort that SBB prioritises. A lunch break at the Zurich HB staff restaurant provided an opportunity for further discussions and networking.

Afternoon activities included a visit to the newly renovated SBB Travel Centre and a comprehensive tour of Zurich HB, emphasising its role as Switzerland’s international and national train hub. This was followed by a presentation on the roles and responsibilities of onboard train staff, crucial for ensuring high service standards.

A highlight of the day was the first-class journey on the IC2000 double-decker train from Zurich to Bern. Upon arrival in Bern, attendees enjoyed a guided tour of the future Bern station, focusing on the planned upgrades and developments. The day concluded with a scenic dinner boat cruise on Lake Thun, offering participants a chance to relax and enjoy the beautiful Swiss landscape and the multimodal experience between different modes of transport. These seamless transport and tariff chains are a specialty of Switzerland’s public transport system.

The second day began early at the SBB Campus in Bern. Participants were introduced to the latest advances in rolling stock development and design, followed by a presentation on enhancing the customer experience – a core aspect of SBB’s service philosophy.

The morning sessions also covered SBB’s multimodality offers, including first- and last-mile solutions and bicycle integration, demonstrating the company’s commitment to sustainable and convenient travel options. A visit to the Train Traffic Control Centre at Bern Central Station provided insights into the complexities of operative alert management.
A key segment of the day was the train journey from Bern to Geneva on the FV Dosto IC double-decker train, where lunch was served in the restaurant coach. This journey exemplified SBB’s service quality and onboard amenities.

In Geneva, participants explored the Léman Express, a cross-border mass transit system serving the Geneva region in Switzerland and the Region Rhône-Alpes in France. This visit highlighted the collaborative efforts between the Swiss and French rail systems to enhance regional connectivity and the challenges posed by a sharp rise in demand.

The technical visit concluded at Geneva Airport, where participants reflected on the extensive knowledge gained and the innovative practices observed. This event did not simply showcase Switzerland’s advanced rail infrastructure, it also fostered international collaboration and knowledge exchange among European railway operators.

For the past four years, under the leadership of Jörg Ostwald and backed by the UIC advisory team, the project members have been working together to exchange ideas at an international level on how to improve the customer experience. This collaboration has recently led to the launch of a new opt-in project aimed at continuing the work already done and developing international KPIs to measure and improve the customer experience. It will run over the next three years and is open to all UIC members who would like to be involved.

For more information about the CEMP project, visit UIC CEMP Project

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