Wait a second... Aimée Smith | Posted: 08 February 2018

Swiss Railways Clock

The mighty Swiss Travel System is one of the finest – and densest – public transport networks in the world: with over 29,000km of routes, no tiny village or remote valley is beyond its reach. It is also incredibly reliable, so whether you’re burrowing through the Eiger’s rocky interior on Europe’s highest cog railway, climbing high above lush alpine meadows in a panoramic cable car, or gliding through the serene waters of one of the great Swiss lakes on an historic paddle steamer, you can be sure everything will run like clockwork.

The country's reputation for punctuality is well established, but did you know that the Swiss have a rather handy device which helps keep things to schedule? In 1944, railway employee Hans Hilfiker designed a simple yet ingenious station clock that is now one of the world's most recognisable timepieces. The iconic red second hand – shaped like a signalling paddle – was added later. Requiring only 58.5 seconds to circle the face, it pauses briefly on the minute until an electric impulse from a central ‘master’ clock prompts it to continue, thus ensuring all Swiss trains run in perfect synchronisation.

Related Holidays

Great Swiss Lakes

We love Switzerland – its beautiful and contrasting landscapes, welcoming hotels, plentiful chocolate and seamless transport system. Our brand-new Great Swiss Lakes holiday is a true collection of Swiss highlights, taking you on a thrilling journey by rail and boat from Lake Geneva to Lake Lucerne.

More about our journeys by rail in Switzerland >

Bryan Pready
Switzerland applies clock-face scheduling, where trains between cities usually leave on the hour and half-hour. Because of the current intervals, the Federal Railways has no interest in speeding up travel times between cities, the goal is to optimise connection times. Trains and buses have a lot of "slack" in their timetables, typically waiting 5 or even 10 minutes at main connecting stations.
14/02/2018 18:35:02

Leave comment

 Security code