Freight train in Switzerland. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Swiss federal government regulates to boost modal shift

Freight train in Switzerland. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Swiss federal council wants to strengthen the trans-alpine modal shift to rail freight even more. Consequently, the Swiss government adopts new regulations regarding truck tariffs and the country’s rolling highways (Ro-La) to facilitate modal shift processes.

Despite rail’s share being impressively large in the country, the government has still not reached the target of 650,000 truck trips per year since the current number is stuck at 900,000. The Swiss policy in recent years that includes the New Railway-Alpine Transversal (NEAT), the performance-based heavy vehicle fee (LSVA) and the railway reform have increased rail’s market share.

In terms of infrastructure projects, the Ceneri Base tunnel and the Gotthard Base line have also contributed to boosting rail freight. Specifically, according to the Swiss federal council, private operators have gained approximately 25 per cent of new customers in the first months of 2021 due to the modern infrastructure.

More measures to ensure modal shift

Despite the considerable success, especially compared to other countries, Switzerland decided to adopt two new measures to help rail freight traffic grow even more. The first measure concerns the truck tariffs, which will be reoriented. The Swiss truck tariffs were geared towards the European emission standards. Now, trucking companies will pay tariffs based on the CO2 emissions of each vehicle.

Moreover, the Swiss federal government will also extend its financial support on the rolling highways. The current governmental program lasts until 2023, but it will extend for five more years until 2028. The estimated financial support for Ro-La is 20 million Swiss francs (19 million euros). After 2028, the government will discontinue its support to the specific industry.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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