History of the Zurich S-Bahn.

The economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s brought prosperity and changed people's lifestyles. They started to live in bigger flats and houses, and this in turn led to the expansion of the greater Zurich area. The result was an enormous increase in the demand for travel.

This growing demand was met mainly by private transport, i.e. car journeys. Rail lagged behind: suburban trains trundled along at speeds barely averaging 40 km/h and there was generally only one train an hour. Separate tickets had to be bought for trams and buses, and all commuter services terminated at Zurich's main station (Hauptbahnhof or "HB"), which meant frequent changes for many passengers. In addition, the rolling stock fell a long way short of satisfying customer needs.

It was only with growing awareness of chronic air pollution, the increasing lack of parking space and daily traffic jams that people started to change their attitudes. In the 1970s it was initially proposed that both an underground and a suburban rapid transit system should be built – yet without any points of interchange between the two. The project was rejected in a referendum. Work thus began on planning a pure rapid transit system – the S-Bahn. This grew from being an isolated new-build project into an integrated operating concept featuring a dense, coordinated timetable of regular-interval services on all rail lines in the greater Zurich area as well as a new cross-city line beneath the main station and the inner city. The concept was approved in another referendum in 1981. The groundbreaking ceremony took place in 1983. After a construction period of seven years, the Zurich S-Bahn commenced operations on 27 May 1990.

  • 1960s: Traffic jams and a shortage of parking spaces give rise to the first visions of an urban rapid transit rail system.
  • 1973: Underground railway plus urban rapid-transit system rejected in referendum.
  • 1981: Zurich voters approve a CHF 500 million grant for a project to build and operate the Zurich S-Bahn.
  • 1983: Construction begins on Museumstrasse station, the new section of track from Hardbrücke to Stettbach via Zurich HB and Stadelhofen plus the SZU station on the Sihlpost side of the main station.
  • 27 May 1990: Opening of the Zurich S-Bahn.

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