Picture from www.mondaine.com
In Switzerland I always have the impression to be overwhelmed by the time! Or at least more than anywhere else.
There is a timetable for everything, and everyone knows by heart the useful schedule: trains, buses, shops being among the most common. In the village where I live with my family you need to rely on these schedules…
How nice it would be living in a big city (again), where you just know that there will be a tram soon! And not just the 7:24 or 7:54 buses and then “the nothing”!!
How nice it would be living in a big city (again), where you would have shops opening at normal times and until quite late in the night! And not shops opening half an hour earlier than usual on Saturdays (yes, earlier!), when you should be supposed to sleep at least half an hour more than on the weekdays!!
An alternative title for this post could have been “Guinness world record for Swiss railways?”.
Simply said. This morning I was boringly waiting for the train connection to reach my office and, weirdly, I started thinking (normally I do not think so early in the morning, and even on Mondays!).
For sure! That list of mysterious letters painted on all the Swiss trains, which I know so well, is an acronym(*). One of the million existing acronyms, for sure.
But then, once I reached my computer, I started researching.
If I am not wrong, that is the longest acronym in the world for a railway name!
The Swiss national railways have the longest acronym among all the railways of the world: SBB CFF FFS, i.e. “Swiss Federal Railways” in the three official (written) languages of Switzerland:
– Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (German);
– Chemins de fer fédéraux (French);
– Ferrovie federali svizzere (Italian).
Considering also the spaces it’s 11 characters!
I immediately informed them, the SBB_CFF_FFS, of this sudden (at least at my eyes!) achievement…I’m still waiting to be scolded for annoying them on this gewgaw matter or to be challenged on the truthfulness of this possible world record.
I think everything makes sense!
Visiting the SBB (I stay short for reciprocal convenience) website (www.sbb.ch), their headline defines themselves as the “biggest railway station of Switzerland”.
At least now they can even claim something more…majestic!
(*) Acronym (I know that everyone knows this word, but I just wanted to be sure that it’s the right one to be used in this context):
From wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acronym): An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word. These components may be individual letters (as in “laser”) or parts of words or names (as in “Benelux”).
“Is this [seat] still free?” This is a very popular question in Swiss German, the German language spoken in Switzerland (by the way, one of the various versions…depending on the region). Common and legitimate question to know whether a seat is available or not. Where would you normally ask such question? I can think of cinemas, theatres, classical music concerts, i.e. places where you go to enjoy some hours of fun and relax. If I had to ask this question in Swiss German, like the Swiss, then this is the perfect question to ask on the trains! Whenever the Swiss seek for a free seat and see a tempting one available, they don’t dare to sit yet. Before doing it, they always ask the “famous question”! Who do they think I am waiting for if the seat next to me is free? I am not at the cinema, waiting for someone to enjoy the movie with me! I just hopped on a train to go home or somewhere else. Although this is the “train” most asked question in Switzerland, it’s for sure a rhetoric question. I never heard someone replying “No, this seat is not free!”. Such a reply would probably make the perfectly congested Swiss railway system collapse. Such a reply would make lots of passengers panic, being deprived from one of their vital certainties: the spoken permission to sit on a public free seat!
Swiss train stations are the pride of all the Confederats! But the quality of the air, even outdoor, along the various platforms is worse than in Beijing (Nothing against the capital city of China, but this city seems to be the one with the worst air quality in the world. Statistical data from: http://www.dailyfinance.com/2010/11/29/10-cities-with-worlds-worst-air/). Last week I went to work by train. Outdoor smoking is allowed everywhere in Switzerland, but the short distance between the platforms of the station, the high density of commuters and the high number of smokers make the Swiss air almost unbreathable between the railways! I had to walk continuously to find some spots of fresh mountain air to breath! Of course I have nothing against the smokers!!!