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Old 27.09.2012, 01:29
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Everything just works in CH

Melbourne Age

While waiting for a train the other day that didn't turn up, I had the chance to think about how things work – or rather, in Australia, how they sometimes don't work.

I was thinking about this, mostly, because I've just come back from Switzerland, a country where Absolutely Everything Works. This is not just clichés about clockwork and efficiency – the place really does work perfectly. It's almost frightening.


The comments are worth a read as well.
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Old 27.09.2012, 01:46
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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If there's a bus departing at 11.43am, you can bet your alpenhorn on the fact that it will be pulling away at 11.43am.
I would be happier to bet that it will leave at some time between 11:43 and 11:45 ...

I seem to recollect that, on my first visit to Switzerland in 1947, trains left the station at the exact time, by which I mean at 11:43:00, just as the minute hand on the clock moved.
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Old 27.09.2012, 01:52
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Re: Everything just works in CH

If you listen carefully, while sitting on a bus before it starts the journey, there is a signal beep and then the driver starts the engine. He isn't trusted to watch the clock, they send a radio signal to remind him the bus should now be moving.
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Old 02.10.2012, 13:36
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Re: Everything just works in CH

Unfair comparison, Australia is so far out of Switzerlands league it is a completely different sport.
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Old 02.10.2012, 14:20
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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Great Britain has a huge network but it's expensive, and there's no single pass to get you through an entire stay.
try again, matey.

http://www.britrail.com/passes/britrail-pass
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Old 02.10.2012, 14:51
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Re: Everything just works in CH

That's just trains.

A Swisspass covers trains, trams, buses, boats, all sorts...

Bruce's point stands.
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Old 02.10.2012, 15:14
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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That's just trains.

A Swisspass covers trains, trams, buses, boats, all sorts...

Bruce's point stands.

Hi there, welcome to the forum.
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Old 02.10.2012, 16:22
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Re: Everything just works in CH

Maybe the question is more "everything works in CH" with regards to what and in comparison to whom exactly.

I do acknowledge that geography and geology was a challenge in CH until a couple of years ago, and that as a result infrastructure is still linear to that,

and that a situation could be worse in many places all over the world,

but e.g. Swiss transportation system is not top at all, if you make the comparison with European countries at least. Streets and narrow highways in bad condition, quite no subway anywhere, anachronistic local public means that simply suck. Delay of infrastructure also of some 50 years. Of course depending a little bit upon the region, too.


You are talking timetables, consider that in some European big cities or even Mideast countries you don't need them as there will be always a public means passing by in a 2-minute-intervall. In CH quite nothing like that.
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Old 02.10.2012, 16:46
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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I would be happier to bet that it will leave at some time between 11:43 and 11:45 ...

I seem to recollect that, on my first visit to Switzerland in 1947, trains left the station at the exact time, by which I mean at 11:43:00, just as the minute hand on the clock moved.
It will usually leave at exactly 11:43 - just are you are running up to the bus (or tram) - your finger making fleeting contact with the button - but to no avail - the driver pulls out - with a sinister grin on his face................
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Old 02.10.2012, 16:48
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Re: Everything just works in CH

Agree that public in CH is great, in respect to being on time etc. I do love that about being here.

In Melbourne you can buy a day ticket for around 10AUD which allows you to use all of the trains, buses and trams throughout the metropolitan network. So it's not country wide, but it's not like you would travel from Melb - Syd - Brisbane in one day!! However true that there are many delays etc.

But as far as "Everything just works".... tell that to my bank who after 7 weeks of being with them still can't give me access to eBanking..
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Old 02.10.2012, 17:06
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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Maybe the question is more "everything works in CH" with regards to what and in comparison to whom exactly.

I do acknowledge that geography and geology was a challenge in CH until a couple of years ago, and that as a result infrastructure is still linear to that,

and that a situation could be worse in many places all over the world,

but e.g. Swiss transportation system is not top at all, if you make the comparison with European countries at least. Streets and narrow highways in bad condition, quite no subway anywhere, anachronistic local public means that simply suck. Delay of infrastructure also of some 50 years. Of course depending a little bit upon the region, too.


You are talking timetables, consider that in some European big cities or even Mideast countries you don't need them as there will be always a public means passing by in a 2-minute-intervall. In CH quite nothing like that.
I disagree. maybe in mega cities you get a metro train every two minutes or so, but even there if you wander aside from that corridor a little and catch the bus you'll get to know a different world.

It is true that Switzerland hasn't kept up with the Jones's and hasn't followed every fad in terms of must-have transport infrastructure. But in retrospect that was a blessing in disguise, as rather than concentrating all investment on prestige projects to the detriment of the rest, as almost every other country seems to have done, the Swiss were able to spread the money fairly evenly which is why so much stuff actually works and is useful and in good nick even if it's not gold plated.

And you don't even need to go to the other end of the world to see this. In Switzerland you just get used to the fact that you can catch a bus to virtually every village that's on the map and even to a handful that aren't. And you lazily assume that because there's a bus at 13:42, there will also as a minimum be one at 14:42 and indeed one at 15:42 and so on until the evening. Just walk some kilometres across the border into Germany with your Swiss-acclimatised mindset and you'll discover a village that gets a bus at 05:53 only and then another at 16:30 (but only on Thursdays) and nothing else in between, and the timetable at the stop is so faded you can't actually read it and the bus company doesn't even have a website. And then you discover that that village actually thinks it has a good bus service as the next village along doesn't get any buses at all.
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Old 02.10.2012, 17:46
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Re: Everything just works in CH

During rush hour there's a tram into the city from my nearest stop every 3 minutes (21 trams between 7:01 and 7:59am).
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Old 02.10.2012, 18:15
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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During rush hour there's a tram into the city from my nearest stop every 3 minutes (21 trams between 7:01 and 7:59am).
Similar in Bern, there is a number 20 every 2 minutes, however every other bus only goes halfway to my stop.
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Old 02.10.2012, 18:55
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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That's just trains.

A Swisspass covers trains, trams, buses, boats, all sorts...

Bruce's point stands.
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Welcome back!!!!!
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Old 06.10.2012, 01:36
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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no subway anywhere
Sorry, had to mention it



by the way, I guess you might not know it, but Zurich too was supposed to have its own subway until zurich citizens decided they preferred their lovely trams, organized a referendum and won it for the good, but the subway was already under construction... the subterranean part of trams 9 and 7 after milchbuck is all is left.
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Old 06.10.2012, 02:54
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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Melbourne Age

While waiting for a train the other day that didn't turn up, I had the chance to think about how things work – or rather, in Australia, how they sometimes don't work.

I was thinking about this, mostly, because I've just come back from Switzerland, a country where Absolutely Everything Works. This is not just clichés about clockwork and efficiency – the place really does work perfectly. It's almost frightening.


The comments are worth a read as well.
It is frightening: there are few too many controls. This is a pro-security society and that can be dangerous for freedom but there's one thing that keeps it in check somewhat - it is very close to the actual democratic ideal. However, that don't hold good for the foreigners.
Also, the anonymous banking works too well - just too well. It's okay for legal and honestly earned private wealth but, unfortunately it works for ALL wealth.

It does "work" especially on environmental preservation, infrastructure - logistics in general. A well designed and oiled machine. If we're not careful it might make us, as people, "work" well too - and I am not entirely sure it's a good thing but I need to give this more thought.
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Old 06.10.2012, 05:36
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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Maybe the question is more "everything works in CH" with regards to what and in comparison to whom exactly.

I do acknowledge that geography and geology was a challenge in CH until a couple of years ago, and that as a result infrastructure is still linear to that,

and that a situation could be worse in many places all over the world,

but e.g. Swiss transportation system is not top at all, if you make the comparison with European countries at least. Streets and narrow highways in bad condition, quite no subway anywhere, anachronistic local public means that simply suck. Delay of infrastructure also of some 50 years. Of course depending a little bit upon the region, too.


You are talking timetables, consider that in some European big cities or even Mideast countries you don't need them as there will be always a public means passing by in a 2-minute-intervall. In CH quite nothing like that.
Mideast countries ? Cairo OK, but in Beirut, Damascus, Amman, Sana'a, Muscat and until almost now Dubai, public transport is almost non-existing. Southern Europe ? Public transport in Barcelona is to be praised. Transport-systems in Germany and the one in London were the source of ideas when Zürich implemented the ZVV S-rail system. Paris ? Not only a tremendous public transport system, but city engineer Haussmann provided ideas about city-structuring and public transport and boulevards used in Zürich after about 1870, for instance the Bahnhofstrasse and the whole structure around the lake. Slow ? Yes indeed, except that exactly this allowed the planners to avoid mistakes done elsewhere and to correct mistakes done here in the past. I mean, public transport in the Zürich area in the 1950ies and 60ies was fairly well organised and punctual and realiable but a bit medieval in many ways. It then was, in various steps, after the devastating public vote NO against an underground rail system, brought nicely up-to-date, and in 2014/15 will reach a status really up to the needs. Subway/Underground? There is no underground-rail-system (regrettably) but a good part of all rail-lines in the Zürich areas ARE below the surface. If you use the S4 from Langnau-Adliswil-Leimbach you between Selnau and HB travel exactly below the river Sihl. If you travel from the western shore of the lake towards HB, you will be underground between Wollishofen and close to the HB. If you travel from the eastern shore, you will be underground after Tiefenbrunnen until after HB. If travelling from HB northwrds, trains go through a tunnel-system either to Oerlikon or via Stadelhofen to Stettbach, and in two years from Altstetten via HB to Oerlikon. Further improvements like an upgrade for the "Bahnhof" Hardbrücke already are in the planning phase.

Finally, much of all the publictransport improvements since 1848 for 164 years were approved in public votes by the people DIRECTLY. This made the whole thing slow, but not based on some lonely decisions of remote political leaders but on decisions at the ballot
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Old 06.10.2012, 09:44
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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Paris ? Not only a tremendous public transport system, but city engineer Haussmann provided ideas about city-structuring and public transport and boulevards used in Zürich after about 1870, for instance the Bahnhofstrasse and the whole structure around the lake.
Too bad they stopped after those few areas. Maybe I wouldn't suffer from claustrophobia each time I return from Berlin.

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I mean, public transport in the Zürich area in the 1950ies and 60ies was fairly well organised and punctual and realiable but a bit medieval in many ways.
Average speed of the trams unfortunately still is. Frequency and coverage are excellent but travel times on many routes are horrendous given the short distances.

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It then was, in various steps, after the devastating public vote NO against an underground rail system
Probably the most stupid decision ever taken by Zurich voters.

Last edited by Mark75; 06.10.2012 at 09:56.
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Old 06.10.2012, 23:40
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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Too bad they stopped after those few areas. Maybe I wouldn't suffer from claustrophobia each time I return from Berlin.
the cities of Geneva and Zürich never were "residences" of political rulers, restricted by geography and often hindered by the totalitarian democracy/voting system. Milano in spite of having had its Grand Dukes is fairly similar and in recent decades sometimes was a bit ahead and sometimes a bit behind, as it had a motorways-ring connecting the motorway from the North to the Autostrada del Sole 25 years before Zürich got the Uetliberg tunnel, but needed half a century to expand Malpensa to an airport suitable for the city. Berlin became a real metropolis in the times of the German Empire in its glory days between 1871 and 1914. The plans of Speer were interesting and many of his ideas were implemented around the globe


and some ideas of Speer later were used extensively by Messrs Foster and Calatrava !

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Average speed of the trams unfortunately still is. Frequency and coverage are excellent but travel times on many routes are horrendous given the short distances.
-
The trams and the tram-rails were modernised and many stations were deleted. But all this never did cancel the BASIC problem of trams and that is that trams
- are in the middle of the road traffic
- follow each twist and turn of the roads, particularily in downtown
This is the reason why so many sizeable cities introduced underground rail-systems
-- to give a precise example. Tram nr.7 in 1965 for Wollishofen-HB needed 30 to 35 minutes and now "only" 20 to 22 minutes. Nice in a way but not exactly revolutionary !

Last edited by Wollishofener; 07.10.2012 at 09:53.
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Old 07.10.2012, 16:31
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Re: Everything just works in CH

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-- to give a precise example. Tram nr.7 in 1965 for Wollishofen-HB needed 30 to 35 minutes and now "only" 20 to 22 minutes. Nice in a way but not exactly revolutionary !
Trams connect smaller stations, they get you to your final destination. For longer sections there exists other means of transport... for instance, why doing Wollishofen-HB by tram when it takes only 10min by train.
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