Switzerland has given in to pressure from Brussels and road hauliers to allow 40-tonne trucks to use Swiss roads from January 1 next year, at the same time as a new levy on heavy goods vehicles is introduced.
The two measures were effectively linked in a series of bilateral accords between Switzerland and the European Union.
However, Switzerland wanted to introduce the tax before the accords were fully ratified, while delaying the entry of the heavy trucks until the process was completed. They are expected to be ratified by mid-2001.
The government said on Wednesday it had decided to let 40-tonne trucks in from the beginning of next year to increase acceptance for the new tax at home and in the EU.
The levy is intended to raise money to build two new rail tunnels through the Alps, so that freight transport can be shifted off the roads.
In exchange for the EU's acceptance of the tax, Switzerland agreed to raise the weight limit on trucks from the current 28 tonnes to 40.
The plan is to allow 300,000 40-tonne trucks to use Swiss roads in 2001 and 2002, and 400,000 in the following two years, before the contingents are dropped entirely in 2005.
swissinfo with agencies