Switzerland, Italy to halt all cross-border train service

ZURICH, Dec 8 (Reuters) - Switzerland and Italy will halt all cross-border rail service from Thursday because train personnel do not have capacity to carry out COVID-19 safety checks ordered by the Italian government, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) said on Tuesday.

The move, in place indefinitely, affects dozens of daily routes, including long-distance trains between Milan and Frankfurt, Germany, as well as regional trains that connect the two countries, where many workers travel daily across the border from northern Italy to Switzerland.

Switzerland and neighbouring Italy, Germany and France had reduced train service in November, but rising cases during the second wave of infections that prompted the Italian government’s new requirements mean train service will be stopped much like it was during the pandemic’s first wave.

Italy did not explicitly forbid train travel abroad, but its requirements -- including for passengers’ temperatures to be measured -- exceed the capacity of train personnel, an SBB spokeswoman told Reuters, leading to the decision to shutter the Swiss-Italian routes.

“Swiss Federal Railways trains will travel only to the country’s border to Italy,” SBB said.

Italy, France and Germany have also introduced new requirements meant to prevent skiers from travelling over the holidays to Switzerland and Austria, where resorts are due to be open for limited, locals-only skiing. (Reporting by John Miller in Zurich and Emilio Parodi in Milan, editing by Ed Osmond)