Every year, SBB transports 430 million passengers. Its rail network of 3,173 kilometres makes up a high proportion of Switzerland’s 5,124-kilometre network.
SBB services 794 stations and stops at hourly or half-hourly intervals. This does not just happen automatically: 33,000 railway workers work round the clock to keep trains running safely and punctually. This not only makes SBB Switzerland’s largest travel and transport company, but also one of the country’s largest employers.
As the sole end customer serviced by Swissgrid, SBB procures its electricity directly from the Swissgrid 50Hz transmission grid. SBB also feeds electricity directly into the Swissgrid transmission grid. This creates a close relationship in operational planning. SBB is also a balance group and works closely together with Swissgrid in schedule management. Also, Swissgrid and SBB cooperate in infrastructure projects, such as the planning, implementation and maintenance of line projects and switching substations.
Swissgrid monitors Switzerland's “electricity highways” at all times of the day and night in the “Swissgrid Control” grid control room – an extremely complex task. As electricity cannot be stored in large quantities, the precise amount of electricity required by consumers must be generated at all times. The specialists are able to respond to oscillations in seconds to ensure stability in the grid, which is also extremely important for SBB.
However, Swissgrid does not just monitor the flow of electricity in Switzerland, but also beyond the country’s borders. This needs to be controlled. As a result, thousands of switching operations are meticulously planned and implemented every year. At the same time, Swissgrid also has to be prepared for the unexpected: for example, if a line suddenly fails, experts immediately redirect the electricity. In extreme situations, power plants are instructed to curb or raise their production. Together with its partners in the electricity industry, Swissgrid has been able to ensure that the Swiss transmission grid is now one of the most reliable in the world.
Swissgrid is obliged to operate a safe, high-performing and efficient grid at all times. This also means that it has to provide the market with the greatest possible transport capacity for national and international electricity trading, while ensuring the necessary timeframe for maintenance as well as upgrades and new construction in the transmission grid.
Coordinating the shut-down of grid elements falls under the remit of operational planning. It comprises the planning and coordination of the dates and the duration of non-availabilities.
Swissgrid also ensures that the necessary shut-down of grid elements is coordinated in compliance with the market requirements. This involves extensive grid security calculations performed as part of multi-year planning right through to everyday operation. These calculations and the coordination of shut-downs are coordinated at a national and international level. This planning aims to ensure a secure grid operation. Professional congestion management guarantees the optimal use of the transmission grid, at all times.