Swiss Federal Railways (SBB-CFF-FFS) is the national railway company of Switzerland. It provides both intercity and commuter rail as well as freight services.
As of 1999 Swiss Federal Railways is officially a private company or AG (Aktiengesellschaft - stock company) which is wholly owned by the Swiss Federal Government and the Swiss Cantons. The infrastructure of the railroad is treated similarly to that of a federal highway, being subsidized by the government for regular maintenance and capital investment. Swiss federal law dictates that the infrastructure (rather the rails) of the entire Federal Railway system must be available to outside parties at equitable prices. Therefore, the Infrastructure division of the Federal Railways receives set "tolls" from all companies that operate on their rails, including their own.
Local commuter rail services are "ordered" individually by each canton as a distinct service; this principle of ordering allow the SBB CFF FFS to offset operational losses in this sector of the market. Intercity rail is not directly subsidized since it is profitable.
Swiss Federal Railways is also the major supplier of freight rail services in Switzerland. This section of the company has been split off to become a semi-autonomous division called SBB Cargo.
The Federal Railways operate 3069km of standard gauge track, 2928km of which is electrified at 15kV 16.2/3Hz, and 74km of narrow gauge(1000mm) track (between Luzern and Interlaken) also electrified at 15kV 16.2/3Hz.
Swiss Federal Railways is known by its acronyms in the three principal languages of Switzerland:
- SBB - Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (German)
- CFF - Chemins de Fer Fédéraux Suisses (French)
- FFS - Ferrovie Federali Svizzere (Italian)