One week after the accident in the Gotthard road tunnel, a large proportion of transalpine traffic is now taking the San Bernardino route. The federal government and the authorities of the canton of Grisons have been working closely together to introduce specific measures (minimum distance between vehicles, overtaking ban for heavy goods vehicles, one-way traffic) aimed at enhancing the degree of safety on this stretch. As before, the Simplon and Grand St Bernhard still have capacity. Meanwhile the volume of transalpine freight transport by rail has increased, and additional capacity is to become available from 12 November 2001 between Brunnen and Lugano-Vedeggio for trucks with a height of up to 3.8 metres.
Over the past few weeks, approximately 2,000 more heavy goods vehicles and semi-trailers were counted on the San Bernardino each day, and this means that the volume of heavy vehicles on the A13 is now almost seven times higher than before the Gotthard disaster. However, the overall increase in traffic volume on the A13 is only 13 percent, since the majority of motor cars have been using the Gotthard Pass. Here, the volume of traffic has trebled since the incident in the Gotthard. Last week, a total of 63,496 motor vehicles crossed over the Gotthard Pass, 3,061 of which were HGVs and coaches.
The amount of traffic choosing to use one of the other transalpine routes was lower than hoped. The total traffic volumes at both the Grand St Bernhard and the Simplon fell by 6% and 7% respectively in comparison with the week in the middle of October (during which there was still some holiday traffic on the roads). Similarly, the increase in volumes of heavy goods traffic has also remained fairly modest to date: for example, an average of around 150 additional goods vehicles (including HGVs) has been noted at the Simplon. Based on previous comparative figures and recorded traffic statistics, the Swiss Federal Roads Authority feels that this route has the capacity to accommodate approximately 450 HGVs more per day. However, the burden on the canton of Valais is likely to increase notably next week, since the Swiss Federal Roads Authority plans to extend its information activity with the aid of the customs authorities, and the recommendations concerning alternative routes that were only issued on Tuesday are expected to begin to have an impact.
The federal government aims to introduce a variety of measures in response to the dramatic increase in the volume of goods traffic via the San Bernardino route and to ease the associated safety problems. At the instigation of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), special traffic control measures are to be implemented on the A13 in the canton of Grisons. After close and constructive consultation, representatives of the federal government and cantonal authorities have decided to introduce new regulations for heavy goods vehicles on the A13 between Reichenau and Mesocco, namely a minimum distance of 150 metres between vehicles and a ban on overtaking. On top of this, a one-way system is to be applied in the San Bernardino tunnel for heavy goods vehicles.
Demand on the part of freight transport companies for carriage by rail has increased over the past few days. The existing capacities for transalpine piggy-back and container transport are now almost exhausted (degree of utilisation, 84% to 94%). And the rail transport facilities at both the Lötschberg and the Gotthard have reported slight increases in demand over the past few days. The degree of utilisation of these facilities is currently 64% at the Lötschberg and 70% at the Gotthard, but the tendency is upward. It is conceivable that the reserve capacities currently available today may have to be utilised in order to meet the increasing demand. These capacities concern a freight volume that corresponds to approx. 2,000 HGV transports, and can be called on at short notice. The loading capacity for HGVs can be increased by a total of 150 trucks per day at short notice. In order to ensure that adequate reserves are also available during the winter, the Federal Office of Transport and Swiss Federal Railways will need to introduce additional loading facilities at the Gotthard for vehicles with a height of up to 3.8 metres. Work has commenced on the planned piggy-back connection between Brunnen and Lugano-Vedeggio, and this additional capacity for 140 HGVs a day is expected to be available from 12 November 2001.
The utilisation of capacities for motor cars is between 60% and 70% at the Lötschberg, and 12% to 21% at the Gotthard. These figures may vary from day to day, and capacity can be increased if necessary. There are adequate reserves on both these routes.
Berne, 2 November 2001
DETEC Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy & Communications
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