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Swiss, Italian cargo venture on hold



Plans to set up a rail cargo joint venture between the Swiss Federal Railways and the Italian State Railways have been put on hold. A Swiss railways spokesman said the move was down to differences in corporate culture.

Spokesman Christian Kräuchi said on Friday that the two companies had withdrawn their application for permission to set up the joint venture from the European Commission.

He said the long-term goal remained a merger of the two companies' cargo activities, but that they had to rethink how to go about it.

The planned joint venture, announced in Rome in February, was to have been the second biggest concern in European freight transport.

Kräuchi said the aim now was to proceed in small steps, gradually merging activities from the bottom up, rather than to press ahead with a full-scale merger of the upper echelons.

He said the main problem was differences in corporate culture between the Swiss and Italian companies.

Kräuchi said they had also underestimated the complexities of the application process at the EU's Competition Commission, but denied the companies feared it would be turned down.

The Swiss and Italian railways had planned to start their new venture would in October, but postponed the launch after an independent analysis concluded the companies were not ready.

swissinfo with agencies

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