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The demise of the Swiss train experience

On trains from Germany to Switzerland you used to notice the crossing of the border not only due to the appearance of the passport control folks in the train: once the Swiss train team replaced their German colleagues, passengers were finally able to travel in peace. Once you crossed the border, there would be no more almost-continuous blather through the speakers about where to find the restaurant, how lovely and relaxing it would be to enjoy fine cuisine there (I bet they never actually ate there themselves), and that the train crew regrets that some passengers are going to leave at the next stop, how much they hope that they'll soon come back, and how happy they are to welcome new passengers.

Each announcement would last somewhere around 30 long seconds, and when it was finally over, they'd repeat it in horrific English: wrong words, bad grammar, and pronunciation that made me cringe every time.

But apparently, the German railway needs more business and their PR department seems to think that this is the way forward.

Not the Swiss, or at least I thought until today. Heck, I even gave myself a "GA" for my 30th birthday, a year subscription for all Swiss public transport, because I enjoy travelling in Switzerland, and even if it's just to get work done.

But just now, on the train from Fribourg back home, the productive and calm silence was interrupted by an announcement where to find the restaurant in four languages, and when the "minibar" passed the upper deck of our wagon, the voice again made sure we knew.

It seems that the days on Swiss trains are gone, when short, smooth, and unobtrusive announcements would let you know about the next station, just in time for you to pack up and get ready to go, or a similarly pleasant message greeted you as you boarded the train, allowing you to make sure that you got on the right line.

What a shame.