Switzerland's Federal office for the Environment, Forests and Landscapes is to introduce new measures to make shipments of dangerous substances over its territory safer. More than 100 kilometres of Switzerland's rail network are currently considered "unsafe" for these types of goods.
The measures, which come into effect in August, will apply to goods transported by rail, road, and waterways. They concern both existing and future infrastructures.
The guidelines will allow the office to stamp the shipment of hazardous material as either "unacceptable", "problematic" or "acceptable". Authorities in charge of the operation will be responsible for the evaluation of the potential risks, and will have to take the appropriate safety measures.
One of the government's biggest safety concerns has been the country's railways. "Four per cent of Switzerland's railway network, or 135 kilometres, are deemed unfit for the shipment of hazardous substances," said Philippe Roch, director of the environment office.
Roch added that around one-third of the network was problematic.
A discussion group has been created to examine how transportation of dangerous goods by rail could be made safer. It includes delegates from the environment office, the Federal Transport Ministry, Swiss rail and the Swiss Association for the Chemical Industry.
The group has been asked to propose a series of measures on the issue before the end of this year.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Swiss Association for the Chemical Industry said it rejected the new regulations in their current form. The association said the measures did not conform to European standards.
The association said the new regulations should not come into effect before the working group completes its inquiry.
swissinfo with agencies