Railway fails to win over heavy goods traffic

The Swiss want more alpine traffic to move to rail Keystone Archive

The Swiss government’s drive to move alpine traffic off the roads and onto the railway is making slow progress, according to a report.

This content was published on November 25, 2004 - 15:43

It appears unlikely that a government target to reduce traffic on alpine routes to 650,000 vehicles a year by 2009 will be met.

The report, published on Thursday, found that the number of lorries in transit across the Alps fell by eight per cent between 2000 and 2003.

Last year almost 1.3 million trucks crossed the Gotthard, San Bernadino, Simplon and St Bernard passes – a reduction of 100,000 since 2000.

The transport ministry said the figures for the first nine months of 2004 confirmed this trend.

It added that the reduction was mainly attributable to measures such as the introduction of a special tax for heavy goods vehicles transiting through the Alps.

Long road

But the report – published every two years and presented to parliament – warned that much still needed to be done.

“If extra efforts are not agreed upon, the measures taken so far will certainly not be enough to reach the goal set for 2009,” the transport ministry said in a statement.

It said that future success depended in particular on European cooperation on transferring alpine traffic from road to rail.

The statement added that additional measures should be considered, including the introduction of an additional toll for transalpine tunnels.

Alpine Initiative

The Alpine Initiative, which aims to protect Switzerland’s mountains from heavy goods vehicles, was enshrined in the Swiss constitution ten years ago. It calls for alpine traffic to be transferred from road to rail and sets specific targets.

But critics say there is still a long way to go before the aims of the initiative are fulfilled.

The group which launched the original campaign to introduce the Alpine Initiative said the move from road to rail was proceeding too slowly.

To reach the annual target of 650,000 vehicles, the number would have to be reduced by ten per cent each year, said the group in a statement.

It called on the government to consider alternative ways of reducing the number of lorries in alpine transit.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The Alpine initiative, voted for by the people and the cantons, calls, among other things, for the transfer of merchandise from road to rail.

It includes these measures: the introduction of special tax on heavy good vehicles, an increase in the maximum weight for lorries from 28 to 35 tons, special rates for combined rail/road transport.

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