The company operates services connecting lake-side towns between Zürich and Rapperswil, as well as more tourist oriented cruises and boat services on the River 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.
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.
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. The Minerva entered service the following year. 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.
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.
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.
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.
In 2009 there was a centennial exhibition on board Stadt Zürich at Zürich-Bürkliplatz. On June 12, 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., and in 2014 for its then 100 years aged sistership.
Current fleet as of 2011
A fleet of 17 passenger ships, including two historical paddle steamers – Stadt 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 river and on the lower Lake Zürich at Zürich.
|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 ||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|
The paddle steamer Helvetia, built in 1875 and last operated in 1958, was scrapped in 1964. The so-called Landi-Boote built for the Swiss national exposition ("Landi") of 1939 – MS Etzel, Halbinsel Au, Möve and Speer – were decommissioned at the end of the 1990s and 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||1200||Escher Wyss & Cie.||480 PS (Escher Wyss)||1958, scrapped and scuttled in 1964||Helvetia, the national personification of Switzerland|
|Etzel||Motor ship||1934||150||Escher Wyss & Cie.||2001, now used by the Etzel society||Etzel, a mountain overlooking Lake Zürich|
|Halbinsel Au (ex Schwan)||Motor ship||1939||200||Escher Wyss & Cie.||Moved to Amsterdam, renamed Euro||The Au peninsula in Lake Zürich|
|Möve||Motor ship||1939||200||Escher Wyss & Cie.||Moved to Brussels, renamed Gueuse|
|Speer (ex Taucherli)||Motor ship||1939||200||Escher Wyss & Cie.||Moved to the IJsselmeer, renamed Elvira||Speer, a mountain overlooking Lake Zürich|
|Ufenau||Motor ship||1977||Bodan-Werft GmbH||2001, now used as Davidoff by Hensa AG at Rapperswil||Ufenau, an island in Lake Zürich|
|Glärnisch||Motor ship||1955||Escher Wyss & Cie.||since 2007 serving as Restaurant ship in Wädenswil||Glärnisch, a Swiss mountain|||
|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 river through the centre of Zürich. These services operate upriver from the Landesmuseum to Lake Zürich, stopping at Wollishofen and Zürichhorn before returning downriver to the Landesmuseum. Because of the low bridges over the Limmat in central Zurich, these services use low profile motor boats.
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.
- Zürichsee-Fähre Horgen–Meilen, the main car ferry operator on Lake Zürich
- ZSG: Geschichte[dead link]
- ZSG: Geschäftsberichte[dead link]
- "Geschichte der Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft" [History of Lake Zürich shipping company] (in German). ZSG. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
- "Bauschänzli" (in German). Gesundheits- und Umweltdepartement Stadt Zürich. Retrieved 2015-01-05.
- "Der älteste Konkurrent der Panta Rhei" [The oldest competitor to the Panta Rhei]. Tages-Anzeiger (April 15, 2009) (in German). Retrieved 2011-09-26.
- "Die Flotte" [The Fleet] (in German). ZSG. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
- modified in 2006/2007
- "Technische Daten" (in German). MS Etzel. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "In Amsterdam den Anker geworfen" (in German). MS Etzel. Retrieved 2012-03-24.
- "Davidoff-Schiff - Das Schiff in Zahlen" [Davidoff Ship - The ship in figures] (in German). Schifffahrtsbetriebe Hensa AG. Retrieved 2011-09-27.
- "Davidoff-Schiff" [Davidoff Ship] (in German). Schifffahrtsbetriebe Hensa AG. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
- "Die Crew" [The Crew] (in German). ZSG. Retrieved 2011-09-26.
- Media related to Zürichsee Schifffahrt at Wikimedia Commons
- Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft web site (English language subset)
- Zürichsee Schifffahrtsgesellschaft web site (full German language version)