The Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft or Lake Zürich Navigation Company (commonly abbreviated to ZSG) is a public Swiss company operating passenger ships and boats on Lake Zürich.

Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft AG
HeadquartersZürich, Switzerland
Area served
Lake Zürich

The company operates services connecting lake-side towns between Zürich and Rapperswil, as well as more tourist oriented cruises and boat services on the Limmat through the centre of the city of Zürich. It is a member of the Zürich Public Transport Network (ZVV) and transports over 1,5 million passengers every year.[1]

The ZSG is a joint stock company with a share capital of 11 million Swiss Francs (CHF). The share capital – one third is in private hands – is divided into 110,000 bearer shares, each with a nominal value of CHF 100.[2]


The first touristic Steamship gate (1835-1883) at Bauschänzli in Zürich

Steam navigation started on Lake Zürich in 1834, when Franz Carl Caspar and Johann Jakob Lämmlin founded a new company (Caspar und Lämmlin, Unternehmer der Dampfschiffahrt auf dem Zürcher- und Walensee) and ordered their first ship from William Fairbairn of Manchester, England. Minerva entered service the following year.[3] When the cuty fortifications were abolished, the then called Bauschänzli bastion remained intact, and served from 1835 to 1883 as the landing site for the first steamboats on the lake, later provided by the Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft.[4]

Share of the Zürcher Dampfboot-Gesellschaft, issued 28. December 1898

Over the years, various other companies started operating steam ships on the lake, and various mergers took place, until the entire fleet was taken over by the Swiss Northeastern Railway (NOB) in 1874. The NOB also owned most of the railway network around the lake, and this monopoly led to consumer resistance, and to the formation of the Zürcher Dampfbootgesellschaft (Zürich Steamship Company) in 1890/91. In order to operate a tram-like suburban traffic, a series of nine screw steamships was ordered.[3]

Paddle steamships Stadt Rapperswil (to the left) and Stadt Zürich in Rapperswil harbour (estimated to be in May 1914)

When the NOB became part of the Swiss Federal Railways in 1903, the Zürcher Dampfbootgesellschaft took over its fleet of ships on Lake Zürich. This included the large paddle steamer Helvetia. In 1909 and 1914, it ordered two further large paddle steamers, which were to become today's Stadt Zürich and Stadt Rapperswil respectively. In 1934 the Zürcher Dampfbootgesellschaft introduced its first successful motor ship, the Etzel, and from then on the fleet became increasingly motorized.[3]

For the Swiss National Exhibition of 1939, four sister motor ships, the Taucherli, Schwan, Möve and Ente, were placed into service. These vessels provided a connecting service between the two exhibition sites, at Wollishofen and Zürichhorn. The second world war brought economic difficulties, but the cross-lake services were maintained. As a consequence of the transition from steam power to motor vessels, the company changed its name to Zürichsee Schifffahrtgesellschaft, or ZSG for short, in 1957.[3]

In 1990, the ZSG became part of the Zürcher Verkehrsverbund (ZVV), the public transport network established in the same year, accepting the ZVVs common tickets and tariffs.[1]

In 2009 there was a centennial exhibition on board Stadt Zürich at Zürich-Bürkliplatz. On 12 June 2009, exactly 100 years after the maiden voyage of the steamship Stadt Zürich, its anniversary trip with invited guests and its sistership Stadt Rapperswil was celebrated.,[5] and in 2014 for its then 100 years aged sistership.


Current fleetEdit

A fleet of 17 passenger ships, including two historical paddle steamersStadt Zürich (built in 1909) and Stadt Rapperwil (1914) – and 15 motor vessels of various sizes is operated by the Zürichsee-Schifffahrtsgesellschaft. ZSG's flagship MS Helvetia has a capacity of 1200 passengers. The fleet includes three small Limmat boats for round trips on the Limmat and on the lower Lake Zürich at Zürich.[6]

Name Type Built in Passengers Builder Engine Named after Image
Stadt Zürich Paddle steamer 1909 750 Escher Wyss & Cie. 368 kW (Escher Wyss) The city of Zurich  
Stadt Rapperswil Paddle steamer 1914 750 Escher Wyss & Cie. 368 kW (Escher Wyss) The city of Rapperswil  
Helvetia Motor ship 1964 1200 Bodan-Werft GmbH 635 kW (MAN) Helvetia, the national personification of Switzerland  
Linth Motor ship 1952 1000 Bodan-Werft GmbH 730 kW (2×365, MAN The Linth, a river that feeds Lake Zürich)  
Limmat Motor ship 1958 850 Bodan-Werft GmbH 485 kW (MAN) The Limmat, the outfall river of Lake Zürich  
Wädenswil Motor ship 1968 700 Bodan-Werft GmbH 442 kW (MAN) Wädenswil, a town on Lake Zürich  
Panta Rhei Motor ship 2007 700 ÖSWAG 884 kW (2×442, MAN) Everything Flows in Ancient Greek  
Säntis [7] Motor ship 1957 300 Bodan-Werft GmbH / ZSG 440 kW (MAN) Säntis, a Swiss mountain  
Albis Motor ship 1997 300 Bodan-Werft GmbH 500 kW (2×250, MAN) Albis, a range of hills near Zürich  
Pfannenstiel Motor ship 1998 300 Bodan-Werft GmbH 500 kW (2×250, MAN) Pfannenstiel, a mountain overlooking Lake Zürich  
Uetliberg Motor ship 1999 300 Bodan-Werft GmbH 500 kW (2×250, MAN) Uetliberg, a mountain overlooking Zürich  
Bachtel Motor ship 1962 250 Bodan-Werft GmbH 250 kW (MAN) The Bachtel Tower overlooking Lake Zürich  
Zimmerberg Motor ship 2001 150 Bodan-Werft GmbH 294 kW (2×147, MAN) Zimmerberg, a mountain overlooking Lake Zürich  
Forch Motor ship 2001 150 Bodan-Werft GmbH 294 kW (2×147, MAN) Forch, a village near Zürich  
Turicum Limmat boat 1992 51 Bodan-Werft GmbH 116 kW (2×58, MWM) An early name for Zürich  
Felix Limmat boat 1993 51 Bodan-Werft GmbH 116 kW (2×58, MWM) Felix, one of Zürich's patron saints  
Regula Limmat boat 1993 51 Bodan-Werft GmbH 116 kW (2×58, MWM) Regula, another of Zürich's patron saints  

Former fleetEdit

The paddle steamer Helvetia, built in 1875 and last operated in 1958, was scrapped in 1964. Of the four so-called Landi-Boote built for the Swiss national exposition ("Landi") of 1939, Ente was sold to the BLS after the exhibition, whilst Schwan (renamed Halbinsel Au), Möve and Taucherli (renamed Speer) continued in service until the end of the 1990s, when they were replaced by three motor ships (300 passengers each) of the Albis type – Albis, Pfannenstiel and Uetliberg – in addition to two smaller (150 passengers each) motor ships – Zimmerberg and Forch.

Name Type Built in Passengers Builder Engine Decommissioned Named after Image
Helvetia Paddle steamer 1875[3] 1200[3] Escher Wyss & Cie. 480 PS (Escher Wyss) 1958, scrapped and scuttled in 1964[3] Helvetia, the national personification of Switzerland  
Etzel Motor ship 1934[3] 150[8] Escher Wyss & Cie.[8] 2001, now used by the Etzel society[8] Etzel, a mountain overlooking Lake Zürich  
Ente Motor ship 1939[9] Escher Wyss & Cie.[9] 1940, sold to BLS for service on Lake Thun, renamed Oberhofen  
Halbinsel Au (ex Schwan) Motor ship 1939[10] 200[10] Escher Wyss & Cie.[10] Moved to Amsterdam, renamed Euro[10] The Au peninsula in Lake Zürich
Möve Motor ship 1939[10] 200[10] Escher Wyss & Cie.[10] Moved to Brussels, renamed Gueuse[10]2021, moved to Antwerp, renamed Sterna Sterna, Italian for the bird Stern but also the Stern. Stern is part of the family of the seagull, and thus the original name 'Möve'  
Speer (ex Taucherli) Motor ship 1939[10] 200[10] Escher Wyss & Cie.[10] Moved to the IJsselmeer, renamed Elvira[10] Speer, a mountain overlooking Lake Zürich
Ufenau Motor ship 1977[11] Bodan-Werft GmbH[11] 2001, now used as Davidoff by Hensa AG at Rapperswil[12] Ufenau, an island in Lake Zürich  
Glärnisch Motor ship 1955[3] Escher Wyss & Cie. since 2007 serving as Restaurant ship in Wädenswil Glärnisch, a Swiss mountain  [3]
Stäfa Motor ship Escher Wyss & Cie. serving as Restaurant ship for the community center Zürich-Wollishofen Stäfa, a town on the banks of Lake Zürich  


The ZSG operates regular round trips from its main Zürich landing point at Bürklipatz. In summer, trips taking 4 hours operate every hour and stop on both shores of the lower lake at Zürichhorn, Wollishofen, Kilchberg-Bendlikon, Küsnacht-Heslibach, Küsnacht, Zollikon, Meilen, Herrliberg, Rüschlikon, Thalwil, Erlenbach, Oberrieden, Horgen, Au peninsula, Wädenswil, Richterswil, Stäfa, Männedorf, Ufenau island and Rapperswil. A few trips continue through the Hurden ship canal to the upper lake, or Obersee, calling at Altendorf, Lachen and Schmerikon, and take 7 hours.

There also are shorter round trips from Zürich-Bürkliplatz, with 2.5 hour trips as far as Richterswil or Stäfa, and 1.5 hour trips to Erlenbach and Thalwil.

The company also operates services on the Limmat through the centre of Zürich. These services operate upriver from the Landesmuseum via Limmatquai and Storchen to Lake Zürich, stopping at Bürkliplatz, Enge and Zürichhorn,[13] before returning downriver to the Landesmuseum. Because of the low bridges over the Limmat in central Zurich, these services use low profile motor boats.

A view of the Stadt Zürich on the ship lift at the Wollishofen ship yard.

The ZSG employs approximatively 80 permanent members of staff, and in the main summer season (April–December) five additional nautical seasonal workers, as well as seven staff in the ticket office at Zürich Bürkliplatz. In its own ship yard at Zürich-Wollishofen work qualified carpenters, painters, mechanics, electricians, plumbers and locksmiths.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b ZSG: Geschichte Archived July 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ ZSG: Geschäftsberichte Archived July 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Geschichte der Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft" [History of Lake Zürich shipping company] (in German). ZSG. Archived from the original on 2011-09-30. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  4. ^ "Bauschänzli" (in German). Gesundheits- und Umweltdepartement Stadt Zürich. Retrieved 2015-01-05.
  5. ^ "Der älteste Konkurrent der Panta Rhei" [The oldest competitor to the Panta Rhei]. Tages-Anzeiger (April 15, 2009) (in German). Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  6. ^ "Die Flotte" [The Fleet] (in German). ZSG. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  7. ^ modified in 2006/2007
  8. ^ a b c "Technische Daten" (in German). MS Etzel. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  9. ^ a b "MS Oberhofen". schifffahrt-beo.ch (in German). Retrieved 2019-03-28.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "In Amsterdam den Anker geworfen" (in German). MS Etzel. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
  11. ^ a b "Davidoff-Schiff - Das Schiff in Zahlen" [Davidoff Ship - The ship in figures] (in German). Schifffahrtsbetriebe Hensa AG. Retrieved 2011-09-27.
  12. ^ "Davidoff-Schiff" [Davidoff Ship] (in German). Schifffahrtsbetriebe Hensa AG. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
  13. ^ "Limmat river cruises". ZSG. Retrieved 2015-09-18.
  14. ^ "Die Crew" [The Crew] (in German). ZSG. Retrieved 2011-09-26.

External linksEdit