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Rail takes greater share of transalpine cargo

The amount of freight carried through the Swiss Alps increased in the first six months of 2011, with rail continuing to increase its share.

There was an increase in both road and rail freight, with rail taking 64.1 per cent of the total as against 62.6 per cent in the same period in 2010, the transport ministry said on Thursday.

In all 7,513,000 tonnes went by road, and 13,432,000 by rail.

A record amount of “unaccompanied combined transport” – where drivers hand over vehicles or containers to continue the journey by train – crossed the Alps during that period.

But the growth in rail freight started to slacken in the second quarter. The “rolling highway”, which carries trucks between Freiburg in Germany and Novara in Italy, saw a slight drop in its business after having to cancel 60 trains – equivalent to about 1,000 trucks – because of a fire which temporarily closed the Simplon tunnel in June.

Overall the ministry attributed the slowdown to the sluggish economy in Europe and the weakness of the euro against the Swiss franc. 

The amount of road freight was significantly up on the same period in 2010, reaching similar levels to 2007 and 2008. The Gotthard, with 481,000 trucks out of a total of 647,000 was by far the most popular route.

The government expects to complete its next transport report by the end of the year so that it can be submitted to parliament. It will contain a detailed analysis of long-term developments and make proposals about future policy. and agencies

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