Leman Express struggles to find its rhythm


Commissioned on December 15, the Leman Express attracted, on average, 25,000 passengers per day. Leaded by social movements in France, the Greater Geneva RER has not yet been able to give its full measure. Full commissioning is scheduled for Wednesday.

Attendance is above expectations, Mario Werren said on Monday. The managing director of Lemanis SA, the joint venture between CFF and SNCF which operates the Leman Express, was positively surprised by the number of travelers. He expected a slower start.

People quickly appropriated this means of transport. Genevans use it as a metro line, said state councilor Serge Dal Busco, head of the infrastructure department. The RER gives the impression that the “canton, already not very large, has shrunk, that space has contracted”.

Premature assessment

It is however premature to determine the impact of the Leman Express on other modes of transport, in particular on private motorized traffic. The step back is not big enough to pass judgment. A monitoring system has been put in place on the road network to keep accurate data, noted Dal Busco.

It is expected that the Leman Express will transport around 50,000 people daily once the RER is established. Since its launch, the offer on the Leman Express has always been reduced due to strikes in France or technical concerns related to new rolling stock, causing delays.

Trains sometimes had to run with reduced hours at peak times, and there was no more room in the single train arriving at the station, said Mr. Werren. The full commissioning of the network, with its six lines, is scheduled for Wednesday, which will facilitate planning.

Small imperfections

However, not everything will be perfect. Points remain to improve, admitted the boss of Lemanis, in particular concerning the signage in the stations and the information disseminated in the trains. Geneva Public Transport (TPG) also had to make room for the newcomer and rethink their network.

Attendance at TPG vehicles is stable, said general manager of the transporter Denis Berdoz. The latter also welcomed the low number of complaints from users. The new tram line 17, which ends its run in Annemasse (F), also immediately found its audience.

The Leman Express was the most complex cross-border RER network project in Europe, said Mr. Werren. It involves two countries, the CFF and SNCF operators with a different railway culture, two types of rolling stock, trains capable of switching between two traction tensions.

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