Traffic and Communications


The majority of this chapter covers lake, river, rail, road, and air traffic. The remainder contains statistics on letter mail and telecommunications. Approximately one third of all tables are dedicated to the history of rail traffic in the period 1868–1986, which could be analyzed even more thoroughly through careful processing of the wealth of available statistical material.

Value Added Series for the Years 1851–1913

The table section of this chapter begins with a set of long term series that examine value added of transportation and communications for the period 1851–1913. The estimates, performed by Blandina Nuss-Kunz and Peter Püntener, cover waterborne and rail carriers, as well as the major services of the federal postal service. Left unconsidered are only the stagecoach postal service and private haulers.
While reviewing the contribution of rail transportation to the Swiss gross national product, Nuss- Kunz, in a study based primarily on data from the Swiss rail statistic, prepared an estimate – later used by Püntener – of the gross production value, intermediate consumption, and value added in the rail sector between 1869 and 1913. Püntener determined the value added of railroads in the years 1851–1868 by subtracting a constant salary component and reinvested contributions from operating costs. Nuss-Kunz computed the value added from railroad operations for the period 1869–1913 in the same manner, but without including into her estimates the special purpose railroads which came onto the scene in the second half of the 1870s. In order to reconstruct the value added from cable railways and trolley cars, Püntener had to immerse himself into the Swiss Rail Statistics. While he could copy the gross production value directly from operation financials, computing the level of intermediate consumption required the use of a coefficient that had to be determined for each year.
The value added of naval transportation, Püntener estimated by reviewing the annual reports of major steamship operations. Here again, the use of a variable intermediate consumption coefficient turned out to be necessary. In order to arrive at the gross production value of steamship transportation, Püntener used the revenues of the companies included in his estimates to project figures for the total number of Swiss steamships. He then multiplied the intermediate consumption coefficients with the gross production values, and finally subtracted the so-estimated intermediate consumption from the gross production values.
The most easily estimated value added were those of the telecommunications field: Since the annual financials of the Swiss Federal Postal Service contain data on all value added components, Püntener could easily record and process those numbers.

Naval Transportation 1889–1985

Switzerland already had well developed naval statistics towards the end of the last century. The Statistical Y earbook of Switzerland covers steamship transportation on major lakes since 1891, i. e. since the issuance of the first annual volume. Covered are the number of passenger and cargo vessels, their tonnage and engine performance, transported passengers and goods, and the revenues and expenditures of naval transportation operations. Since 1941, the number of Swiss sea ships is recorded, too. In this publication, we had to settle for presenting a selection of the wealth of available data that covers nearly a full century. Of the two tables which report on Swiss naval transportation, the first offers an overview of nationwide development, whereas the second provides data on naval operation on individual lakes for selected years. While preparing the first table, we became aware of an inconsistency in content: The totals in the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland do not always include the Lago Maggiore. We solved this problem by subtracting Lago Maggiore data from the total for those years in which the value was given.
Basle’s naval traffic on the river Rhine assumed a position of considerable economic importance in the first half of this century. Previously largely irrelevant as an import/export facility, the conversion of this point of entry into Switzerland into a modern water port occurred in the years 1904 and 1911. Most of the data series presented in the tables in this chapter, however, do not commence before the time between the world wars, and a summary by country of origin on the number and tonnage of vessels frequenting Basle’s Rhine port does not begin until 1932. T o cover the gaps in our presentation, a more comprehensive processing of primary source data would therefore be required.

Railroads and Special Purpose Railroads 1868–1986

From a statistical point of view, the history of railroads in Switzerland is covered in an exemplary fashion. Apart from the most important source by far, the previously mentioned Swiss Railroad Statistic, the Yearbooks of the Swiss Federal Railroads (SBB/CFF), a graphical-statistical transportation atlas of Switzerland from the year 1915, and the chapters on traffic in the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland, there are two other noteworthy contributions: first the five-volume anniversary publication “A Century of Swiss Railroads 1847–1947” issued by the Swiss Postal and Railroad Department, and second, a publication entitled “Rail Network Switzerland” (“Schienennetz Schweiz”) by the SBB executive office in 1980. The latter book, especially, contains such a wealth of information on the creation and development of the Swiss rail network – start and discontinuation of services, expansion to dual track operation, electrification – that we saw no reason to follow our macro-level historical- statistical description with a lengthy regional section containing detailed information on individual runs.

Motor Vehicles and Bicycles 1910–1986

The earliest records on the number of motor vehicles in Switzerland date back to the year 1910. In 1929, the Federal Statistical Office conducted its first major inquiry, the results of which were included as “Swiss Automobile Statistics” into the Statistical Deliveries. The next tally occurred only two years later, in 1931 (“Motor Vehicles in Switzerland”). Then there was a hiatus of more than three and a half decades, until the first volume of the series “Motor Vehicles Inventory in Switzerland” (“Motorfahrzeugbestand in der Schweiz” / “Effectif des véhicules à moteur en Suisse”) was published in 1967. Nevertheless, the number of motor vehicles is well documented for the years 1933–1939 and 1945–1966: in the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland we found tables that show the results of annual motor vehicle surveys for not only the 25 cantons, but also for the ten most populated cities. We failed, however, in our attempt at uniformly categorizing data below the general level of “motor vehicles”. This is because a redefinition of the terms “Passenger vehicle” and “Motorcycle” occurred in the 1960s when station wagons, previously considered commercial vehicles, were included as passenger vehicles, and mopeds, previously considered small motorcycles, came to be treated as a separate class of vehicles. In addition, a new method of differentiating between commercial vehicles and trucks came into effect at the end of the 1960s. Still, available sources allowed us to develop internally consistent statistics that show the numbers of passenger vehicles and motorcycles at the canton and city levels for six decades, between 1910 and 1970. Since separate summaries by canton and city for station wagons and mopeds exist for the 1960s, we succeeded in starting the connection table, which extends to the year 1986, already in the early 1960s instead of with the year 1971. After 1970, the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland no longer contains data on motor vehicles in major cities, but we managed to reconstruct that number with the help of additional publications by the Federal Statistical Office (which later became the Federal Office of Statistics).
For bicycles there was no need to divide the period 1910–1986 into two sectors, but here we encountered the problem that the tables published in the Statistical Yearbook of Switzerland did not contain data on the number of bicycles in the major cities for any period. Part of the required data was found in the statistical yearbooks of the cities of Zurich, Berne, and St. Gall; in the remaining cases there appears to be no data.

Aviation 1921–1990

To a degree, the statistics on airplanes, aviation personnel, and air traffic give a non-homogenous impression as well. It is particularly difficult to interpret the data covering Switzerland’s business-related noncommercial air traffic as that air traffic sector twice underwent terminology redefinitions (1956 and 1966). The lack of homogeneity in the data caused us to refrain from providing comparative airport statistics. To make up for this omission, we provide a summary that reports on commercial traffic at Zurich airport for the period 1922–1990.

Traffic Accidents 1926–1986

It may be surprising that we devote not even a full two-page spread to this area which in recent years has increasingly become a hot political button. The gathering, reviewing, and homogenizing of the relatively readily available base data indeed remains a task to be performed. As of now, detailed historical statistics of traffic accidents are still on the wish list. At this point, however, we would like to refer to the chapter “Diseases and Causes of Death”, which contains statistics on traffic accidents by type of accident that begin in the year 1876 and continue to the year 1968 (table D.49.).

Federal Postal Service 1849–1986

Statistics of Swiss postal traffic go back to the year 1849. They were performed according to consistent criteria for very long periods of time, but still contain three significant breaks. First, the selection of services appearing in the statistical summaries was substantially expanded after the turn of the century. Another major change occurred in long distance phone statistics in the middle of the 1950s: in contrast to the years 1882–1954, the statistics now counted the number of minutes rather than the number of phone calls. A conversion from phone minutes to phone calls is only possible using the rather implausible assumption that a long distance call always lasted an average of three minutes. The third break can be found at the beginning of the 1960s, when statistics covering post offices, postal personnel, and operating financials assumed an entirely new look.

SOURCE: «Transports and Communications» in Ritzmann/Siegenthaler, Historical Statistics of Switzerland, Zürich: Chronos, 1996, 761-765

Show more (+)
The current chapter contains 31 table(s) between 1844 and 1990