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Destination perfection: what we can learn from the Swiss railways

IbyIMD+ Published 6 February 2023 in Innovation • 6 min read

While other companies have slipped off track when it comes to dealing with customers, the heart-warming reaction from Swiss train staff when a problem arose shows what can be achieved with more ambition, writes John Sills in a second extract from his new book, The Human Experience. 

Back in early 2020, days before the world was put into lockdown, I found myself on a train flying through the Swiss countryside.  

I was with a group of 30 septuagenarians who were on two-week rail holiday, doing some research into what made their experience great and what could be better. One of my colleagues is from Geneva and, when she found out I was going, repeated what we’re all told about the Swiss railway system: wonderfully efficient, best in the world, incredibly reliable. So, within seconds of the emergency brakes bringing the train to a shuddering halt, I was mentally preparing my sarcastic messages to my Swiss friend and my angry messages to the Swiss Federal Railways Twitter team: train broken down, we’re going to miss the connection, no one has any idea what’s going on … typical Swiss inefficiency. But before I had the chance to hit send, something unexpected happened – or at least, unexpected to those of us who frequently travel on UK trains. 

The train…

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