Italy and Austria at odds about shift to rail along Brenner axis
Austria wants Italy to increase the share of goods moved on the railways when being transported across their shared border, which is currently 26 per cent of the total. The Austrian government is doing so by increasing road tolls and banning the transit of trucks, which are piling up and forming interminable queues at the Brenner border. However, the Italian Road Freight Transport and Logistics Association (ANITA) is claiming that, despite the existing will to transport more goods on trains, there are insufficient slots available and terminals are saturated.
“Austria should set its own house in order instead of asking bordering countries for more efforts”, Thomas Baumgartner, ANITA’s delegate for the Brenner area pointed out in a statement. According to the association, data for 2021 from Statistik Austria shows that “the Austrian internal traffic of goods transferred by rail is only equal to 6.9 per cent of the total”. What ANITA is lamenting is that the limitations placed on road freight do not apply to local traffic, which they consider as “intolerable discrimination”.
The situation gets more complicated considering that the Brenner rail station is not functioning at full service. Since March, three tracks have been closed as they have been deemed unsafe by Italina infrastructure manager Rete Ferroviaria Italiana. A solution to this problem will likely be the Brenner Base Tunnel, which will not be ready until 2032. In mid-October, the Italian government, under the figure of Transport Ministry Matteo Salvini, pledged to the EU Court of Justice to intervene against the limitations put in place by Austria regarding road freight. This is the first time that Italy is resorting to the EU Court against another Member State, as the Minister stated. This decision was applauded by ANITA as well as various other transport associations, especially in northeastern Italy.