Swiss Railway Experiments with Blockchain Identities to Improve Safety

The Swiss Federal Railway has finalized an experiment involving Proof-of-Concept (PoC) on their staff database. The project, which ran from May through November, aims to improve the existing manual system. By using a blockchain-driven audit-proof solution, the new system will enhance the safety within the work environment.

Official comment

Swiss Railway spokesperson, Danielle Pallecci, told CoinDesk via email that they always engage the services of third parties for work. Consequently, these third-party workers dominate the sites. With regard to their safety, a robust identity system is essential on these sites, Pallecci added.

How it works

Therefore, with this Proof-of-Concept, the railway authority mandates workers to create their digital identities on the uPort app using their smartphones. Also, the Swiss Railway issued the workers with appropriate certificates to confirm that they completed the appropriate training. So, the digital ID’s will serve as the pass they need to enter or leave the construction site. To enter the site, the worker will have to scan a QR code with their mobile phone or the app.

Using uPort, all employees, such as certification authorities, railway workers and supervisors, will have digital identities. Also, these digital identities are linked to the workers’ uPort ID’s.

More importantly, the Swiss Railway Authority will maintain all these records on the blockchain. By publishing a hash of a worker’s check-in and check-out activities on the blockchain, the authority will be able to audit the internal database.

Link it to city authorities

The Swiss Railway made it possible to connect the app to the city authority’s identity system. A typical example of such an identity system is Zug ID, which also uses the same uPort technology. This summer, local authorities tested the possibility of using the ID’s for blockchain-powered electronic voting. Currently, they are using the Zug ID’s to unlock their bikes. The Swiss Railway spokesperson refused to provide further details on the project, adding that more information will be available in beginning of 2019.

The role of uPort in the Swiss Railway project

On further inquiry regarding the project, Thierry Bonfante, the head of products at uPort, gives some insight. Bonfante told CoinDesk that they have partners who represent the product in the market. He points out that their role was to supply them with whatever they require from uPort.

Investigations show that as a result of the Swiss Railway project, uPort upgraded its architecture to tackle scalability and privacy issues. This saw the company move most of its operations off-chain in August.


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