24

I was reading about the Sagliains train station in eastern Switzerland. It is an interchange between two routes on the RhB network. It seems that the platform used by foot passengers does not have any entrance or exit passageway; the only way to get there and leave the place is on a train.

I am surprised by the existence of such stations that you cannot enter or exit by foot. If someone arrives on a late train, then forgets to board the last connecting service of the day, he is literally stuck there for the night. The obvious solution would be to wait for the first morning service, or walk along the tracks which is illegal and dangerous.

Are there any procedures in place to avoid this, or rescue any stranded passengers, should the situation happen?

Note: there is a road vehicle loading station adjacent to it, but this is not the focus of the question.

6
  • 14
    There are no procedures, other than relying on common sense (which people are assumed to poses in Switzerland). If you are unable to remember to board your train you would have gotten in to trouble long before reaching Sagliains.... Commented May 30 at 5:16
  • 37
    @KristvanBesien I'm sorry but that's just silly. What if someone was exhausted and fell asleep waiting for the train? What if they felt unwell and had to, for example, throw up or use the bathroom and so missed their train? Common sense is fine in common situations, but cannot be relied upon in uncommon ones.
    – terdon
    Commented May 30 at 12:27
  • 1
    @KristvanBesien That's a common theme but it's not very serious. Switzerland is just as full of bureaucratic regulations as any other modern country, including very costly requirements addressing risks that seem a lot more far-fetched than the ones we are discussing here (nuclear shelters anyone?). If anything, something that seems stronger in Switzerland is the willingness of regular people to take it upon themselves to enforce all kind of rules and report even minor infringements to the authorities (I have many anecdotes), again betraying the not-a-nanny-state cliche.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 1 at 13:19
  • 1
    Now, it's entirely possible the rail company evaluated this and decided it wasn't a serious issue but lazily making excuses or invoking “common sense” is not the way you ensure the safety of large socio-technical systems, in Switzerland just as anywhere else (and I actually happen to personally know people working in the Human Factors field in Switzerland so it's not like the Swiss are as clueless as your comments made it seem).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 1 at 13:23
  • 2
    Incidentally, it's true the Swiss used to have a rather relaxed attitude towards crossing rail tracks. Because of the characteristics of the rail system, there are many level crossings in Switzerland, including a few that still don't have any safety equipment. This has long been identified as an issue and the subject of extensive media coverage and regulation, with much progress over the last 20 years. I cannot say if railway engineers really assumed someone stuck in this particular station would simply walk over the tracks but this is not something they would be so casual about.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Jun 1 at 13:31

7 Answers 7

28

A good look at the actual premises might be helpful here. A useful picture can be found here: Source: https://www.brasserarchitekten.ch/projekte/umsteigebahnhof-sagliains

It's highly unlikely that there is any "service personnel" other than the conductors of the train (which is quite common for small train stations).

This being said, it's easy enough for the conductor of the last train(s) to check if anyone is still there.

But if you are good at hiding yourself and actually get stuck, you can simply walk off the premises. The picture is taken from the nearest road. It's less than 2 km to the nearest hotels in Lavin and maybe a bit more to Sues.

Yes, you would have to cross the tracks and some grass (which may not be fun in winter), but so what? There should be little traffic and you have clear sight pretty far out. I've certainly done my fair share of walking over the tracks. It certainly beats sleeping on the platform (which unfortunately I also had to do).

14
  • 1
    Coud you let us know the source of the photo? While Google has plenty of Street View images from the old station (before they moved it further from the tunnel) I found very little information about the new one pictured here (other than the satellite view).
    – jcaron
    Commented May 30 at 16:53
  • 3
    I'm really surprised that I have to leave such a comment to a >100k user, but, unless you took that picture yourself, both common courtesy and the SE rules say that you should credit the source. (That having been said... good answer!)
    – Heinzi
    Commented May 30 at 17:42
  • 2
    The hotels in Lavin are actually some 700m away (from the new, relocated station) – quite doable unless travelling in a wheelchair. Those who are not afraid might find walking on the tracks all the 800 metres to Lavin station more comfortable than a cross-terrain adventure in the dark. (At night in Lower Engadin I might feel more afraid of a bear or a mole trap than of either the police or an unheard train.) Commented May 30 at 21:12
  • 4
    @Heinzi Crediting the source is only enough if the source is already licensed under a CC-BY license, otherwise you are not allowed to include the image in your post. ( meta.stackexchange.com/q/327478/184432 ) Commented May 31 at 4:18
  • 1
    @DavidMulder: Thanks for the clarification. How would I know what license this picture is under? Should I remove it then ? Is posting a link to the picture acceptable? Does that need to be a link to the site that contains the picture or can it be a link to the picture itself (which is apparently hosted under a completely different address). ?
    – Hilmar
    Commented May 31 at 18:38
18

Wow, a nice pick! According to Wikipedia, the Sagliains station indeed has no entries and exits for passengers. I guess any person remaining on the platform when a connecting train (let alone the last train of the day) is about to depart will be politely and then firmly requested by the staff to board the train. I assume one cannot buy a ticket to / from that station, so everyone should have a valid onwards ticket. If not, they'll pay a fine, just like anywhere else in Switzerland or the world.

In case of emergency of any kind, the railway staff will guide the affected people safely out of the station, presumably using the entrance for service personnel: https://maps.app.goo.gl/ctyMreN2itMpKjk4A UPDATE: The service entrance seems to be no longer there after a 2020 redevelopment. In any case, it's the railway staff responsibility to guide passengers out of the station in case of emergency.

3
  • 2
    the station seems to have been redeveloped, the street view images are from 2014 and don't match up with the (2024) satellite images - the passenger platform is now some way further east. If there's any crossing on the current platform it isn't recognisable from the satellite images.
    – Chris H
    Commented May 30 at 9:27
  • 1
    @ChrisH Thanks, updated. Commented May 30 at 12:09
  • "I assume one cannot buy a ticket to / from that station, so everyone should have a valid onwards ticket." That's not necessarily true; in Switzerland train tickets are very open (i.e.: day/week/monthly pass; GPS tracking APP, ...). Commented Jun 1 at 19:47
9

(Answer specific to Sagliains station, the question title asks a broader question.)

Unlikely, but not impossible

Schedules at Sagliains are such that connecting trains are facing each other, leaving little time to get lost (or to hide from the eyes of train staff). For example on fridays and saturdays, the last trains of the day arrive at 23:52 and 23:56, and depart at 23:58 and 00:00. This is Switzerland, and the connection works quite reliably (unless some rare event happens, see below). Train staff (of the later departure) will normally care not to leave while there are still passengers on the platform (but will ask them to hurry).

Yet it will certainly be possible to get stuck on the Sagliains platform accidentally: on a foggy day, or in a heavy snowstorm... Morning train is scheduled for 05:58 am, you may or may not want to wait.

Interdiction to cross tracks might not be your biggest problem

Not talking about official regulations here (ask railway operator), there will be a phone number – assume broken batteries.

Sagliains station is somewhat isolated, but not far away from civilization. The nearest hotels in Lavin are just 700 meters away, i.e. well within walking distance, so one might try. While passengers are not allowed to cross the tracks (and Rhaetische Bahn will deny any liability), there will be nobody around to enforce that restriction. Get off the platform somehow (unless you have a disability that prevents you from doing so, or heavy luggage), cross track and a stretch of meadow, and follow nearby road. That's it. (But there is no light once you have left the station – remember your battery is broken).

On a dark late evening, well after the last departure (and even more so in bad-visibility weather) it might even be safer to walk all the 800 meters to adjacent Lavin station on the tracks – just to make sure not to get lost, and not to step into something dangerous. (Keep ears open, speed limit on that stretch of railway is 70 km/h.) Personally at night in Lower Engadin I might feel more afraid of sliding/falling off a cliff I did not notice, or having an encounter with a bear, than with either the police or an unheard train –

An unusual accident had happened on a late evening in April 2012 on the same train line some 15 km east of Sagliains: A bear collided with a Scuol-Tarasp–Klosters train near the station Ftan Baraigla; the animal was reported not to have suffered serious injuries w:de. Supposedly the train had then missed the connection at Sagliains on that evening.

And the bear had probably learnt to respect "Do not cross tracks" signs, but was shot a year later for continued misbehaviour...

9

First, I think nobody should be stranded there. I assume the personnel will check carefully the station before leaving the last train.

I'm surprised that there is no crossing (e.g. for cleaning personnel), but at least you should be able to cross the tracks. It is RhB, so with a lot of pedestrian crossings on the line, and trains are not very fast, and for sure not near a station (and switches that connect to a single line).

I would check in the station if there are some posters on what to do in such case, or if there is a way to contact staff: because most stations are unstaffed, often we have a button to get in contact with rail staff or police. If you have a mobile phone, you can also call the emergency number.

Or I would go to the eastern part of the station and check the signals (on both ways) and listen if there is a train coming: again, they are not fast trains, and they are noisy (a lot of curves on meter gauge). Default signals should be all red (I do not think we have any more automatic signals. In such cases trains should arrive slowly to the signal.

On a main line I would not cross rails without trying to contact (phone) police (and I doubt there are such cases): trains are much faster and less noisy, but on RhB pedestrian crossings are common, speed is limited and often a single track (as you see just on the eastern part of the station).

10
  • 3
    "on RhB pedestrian crossing is common" >> regardless of the track speed, crossing railway tracks outside of an officially designated place (e.g. a level crossing) is not allowed and can be fined. Don't do that. In case of emergency, contact the railway staff. Commented May 30 at 8:38
  • 2
    @Johnnyjanko In case of emergency, contact the railway staff That's already part of this answer, isn't it?
    – Berend
    Commented May 30 at 9:34
  • 1
    "they are not fast trains"... They reached 145 km/h in the tunnel right next to it.
    – jcaron
    Commented May 30 at 9:47
  • 3
    And the 145km/h is just in tunnel: straight, no people, no animals, no rocks, and not in the last connecting tunnel. If you look the official maps, you see that in the station such speed are impossible. I think 80 is also too much for the station. Commented May 30 at 12:06
  • 3
    @Nobody Of course, and I've done it many times already. I'd do it also here, because there are no fences, so obviously any able-bodied person can get out. But that's not what this question is about. This question is about official procedures. Commented May 30 at 13:30
5

The last train there is midnite and the next one is at 5:58 am. So the TRUE answer to "What would happen?" is, "You'd sleep on the bench In the wind proof booth for 6 hours."

Is that really a big deal to civilized people? Yes, it's Switzerland, but if you're already outdoors in sub zero weather, you're probably dressed for it.

Before I was homeless, that kind of thing seemed scary, because it meant that I didn't have any place to go to when I left. For instance, a store, or the escalator out of the Metro subway. But really, it's only like camping.

You just can't ever go home.

0
3

Staff make best effort to not let that happen.

The BART system also has a transfer-only station at Bay Point for a break of gage. Yes, you heard "break of gage" in the 21st century. This station is completely surrounded by dangerous infrastructure (freeway to the sides, railroads to the ends) and has only an alarmed emergency exit to a nearby street undercrossing. The station also has an intercom.

The answer is that the last trains of the night toward all directions meet at the station and sit there for an abnormal amount of time, while staff sweeps the station for stragglers. It is part of their job. If a passenger got left behind, there would be an inquiry as to why they did not do their job.

This is to avoid the tragedy of an infirm person being left behind due to disability and then succumb to the elements. Also, in the U.S. such transfer-only stations are in urban areas, making them a very clever place for a homeless person to camp overnight in peace.

Yes, this means if one "last train" is late arriving, the other "last train" sits and waits and waits.

-1

Whilst this station may be intended as only being a transfer station, it's very clear from looking at it via Google Maps (especially in Satellite View) and also Google Streetview (yes, on the train tracks!) that it's also accessible via road - and in fact even has a small carpark (likely intended for rail staff).

Based on Street view, the car park itself may not be accessible if the station is closed (there's a manned booth and boom gates), however it's accessible on foot.

Presumably one could arrange a lift with a taxi/Uber/friend/etc if one found themselves stuck at this station with no trains due - no different to most any other train station.

6
  • You cannot leave the platform without crossing the tracks, something that you are not permitted to do unless instructed by railway staff. Since there is no staff present (hence no need for a staff parking either) there is nobody to guide you outside Commented May 30 at 5:15
  • 4
    The car park, manned booth and boom gates that you see on google maps have nothing to do with this passenger station. They are part of the car shuttle loading area. The passenger station is further east. Google maps has placed the station marker in the wrong spot. Look for the white roof of the platform shelter to find where the station really is. Commented May 30 at 5:20
  • 4
    Note that Streetview is from 2014 in this place, and doesn't match the satellite imagery from 2024
    – Berend
    Commented May 30 at 6:56
  • The train station used for transfers has been moved around 2020. The satellite view is up to date, Street View and map view are of the old layout. While the old transfer station was very close to the car shuttle station, the new one seems to be a lot more isolated.
    – jcaron
    Commented May 30 at 9:43
  • 1
    Given that you need to cross a working railway it is not accessible. Commented Jun 1 at 6:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .