Robert Wiedmer has worked for the Gornergrat Railway since 1997 and is now an employee in Sales Management, where he is responsible for the supervision of the ticket systems. He also worked as a conductor and customer advisor at the counter for several years. In this interview, he reports first-hand on the changeover of the ticket system from a “visual check” to an electronic check.
Robert Wiedmer, you personally witnessed the switch to the hands-free system in 1999. Why was electronic ticket control introduced?
Robert Wiedmer: “In 1999, the entire skiing region in Zermatt was converted to an electronic access system from Skidata to ensure a smooth travel experience for guests. Back then, it was one of the first installations of this size for a railway company in Switzerland. From a technical point of view, the change was very formative.”
You were a conductor at the time. How did your work change as a result of the changeover?
Robert Wiedmer: “In the beginning, I still carried out visual checks and validated the tickets with a punch when entering Zermatt and at the stations up to Gornergrat. The customer contact was very personal. After the changeover, tickets with barcodes were available for scanning at the turnstile. My job then was to monitor the system and support the customers. Many were lost without help – it was a big change for everyone.”
You then switched to the counter. What had changed there?
Robert Wiedmer: “The new system also changed the way tickets are issued – from cardboard tickets (Edmondson and ski passes on paper) to electronic tickets. This meant new cash registers, new dispensing devices and training for employees. The ticket hall was also completely renovated. I grew up with the whole new system.”