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Controversial rail freight accord being signed with Italy

A rail cargo joint venture between the Swiss Federal Railways and Italian state railways is due to be signed today. But rail workers in Italy have opposed the new co-operation agreement and have called for a strike on February 18.

This content was published on February 2, 2000 - 17:20

A rail cargo joint venture between the Swiss Federal Railways and Italian state railways is due to be signed today. But rail workers in Italy have opposed the new co-operation agreement and have called for a strike on February 18.

The signing ceremony in Rome was due to be attended by the Swiss Transport Minister, Moritz Leunberger, and his Italian counterpart, Pierluigi Bersani, but neither will now attend.

Rail workers in Italy have said they fear job cuts with the creation of the new enterprise, Cargo SI, and complain they were not consulted in the preparations for the co-operation accord. They have also been demanded that Cargo SI be controlled by Italy.

However, a spokesman for Italian state railways said the equal structure of Cargo SI, to be based in Milan, was not for re-negotiation.

The Swiss Rail and Transport Union has said it understands the concerns of Italian rail employees but considers the new venture a step in the right direction.

The two rail companies have formed Cargo SI to improve their services in national and international goods transport, as well as in logistics, to raise market share.

The board of the Federal Railways says that with its size, Cargo SI has a good chance of establishing itself in the liberalised European goods market. The aim, in the long term, is to position the company among the three leading rail freight enterprises in Europe.

By Robert Brookes





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