In June 2018 I embarked on an exciting journey across Switzerland. Back from a conference in my good old university town of Lyon, I reached Zürich via Geneva and Neuchâtel, two cities I deeply love. The next morning, I was at Zürich Airport, being simultaneously deeply in and far out of my comfort zone: shooting a video, whilst travelling by train. I hopped on the Grand Train Tour of Switzerland, and after hundreds of kilometres of breathtaking scenery, we had landed in Zermatt, at the foot of the Matterhorn. No, the video isn't an ad per se, rather a beautiful illustration to the article I published in Zermatt Matterhorn's blog. Enjoy, all credit goes to Rex Moribe's impeccable filmmaking skills.
This article isn't here to repeat what I explained on Zermatt's blog. Rather, I would like to pick up from what I believe is the most important section of that article.
"Zermatt challenges our visions of transport, mobility, and comfort."
Why did I think this mattered so much? I'm a 27-year-old train-loving young man with no driving licence. Trains are not a hobby. I believe in a fuss-free, reliable, relaxing, green way of moving around. From Lyon to Zürich, and from Zürich to Zermatt, from 162m to 3,883m above sea level, I only used electric energy, and never waited for more than 10 minutes to get my next connection. Switzerland embodies this bold, ambitious project for public transport, offering more freedom than cars. Once in Zermatt, public transport is no longer a choice: it is the only way. When coming to Zermatt by car, you will have to park in Täsch and get the rail shuttle provided. The unavoidable in-town traffic (for deliveries, taxi runs, helping people with reduced mobility) is all provided by small electric vans, and the drop in noise and air pollution can only be noticed.
The video we produced was meant to convince visitors to visit Switzerland by train, bus and boat, to ditch their car and enjoy the view. The journey is the destination. I couldn't agree more, but being in Zermatt pushed me to think beyond this concept. Zermatt was the destination, and whilst I was there public transport had become normal, the only sensible way. There was no stress due to timetables, and our Swiss Travel Pass allowed us to forget about tickets or prices. It was all smooth, seamless. As much as I love trains, they had gone back into the background, there was no need to think about them, because we could just trust them. And this is what transport should look like. Switzerland's level of determination regarding public transport and green mobility never ceases to amaze me. And their recent vote to put cycling into their constitution has once again confirmed my opinion. This is something I want France and Britain to deeply work on. Spatial mobility is social mobility. It brings economic, social, cultural, linguistic, aesthetic opportunities to all.
After my time in Zermatt, I travelled all the way back up to Mainz, where I work. I hope you won't dare ask me how I got there.
Find out more on Swiss Travel System. If planning a visit to wonderful Zermatt, visit Zermatt Matterhorn.