Rail sets historic milestone in moving freight through Swiss Alps

2021/09/21 at 10:02 AM

Almost three-quarters of freight, transported through the Swiss Alps in the first half of 2021, was moved by trains. It is the record share for the rail sector in the past 25 years. The figure is expected to increase with the completion of the second tube of the Lötschberg Base Tunnel that is scheduled for late 2028.

The freight traffic in the Alps has finally recovered after the corona crisis. Such a conclusion was released by the Switzerland Federal Office of Transport (FOT). According to the authority, 15.2 per cent more goods were transported through the Swiss Alps than in the first half of 2020 and also more than in the first half of 2019.

Regarding the mode of transport, more and more shippers prefer to use trains to run the mountainous areas instead of trucks. This resulted in growing by 3 per cent the market share of rail. 74.4 per cent of freight volumes through the Swiss Alps were moved by trains in the first half of the current year. It is the highest figure in the last quarter-century.

New Rail Link through the Alps

The mentioned historic milestone is a result of the huge investments of Switzerland in the development of rail infrastructure, especially railway tunnels. In the past two decades, the New Rail Link through the Alps (NEAT) was constructed. It includes three major tunnels that reduce the transit time for both passenger and freight trains. Initially, the single-track Lötschberg Base Tunnel was opened for regular traffic in June 2007.

Two double-track tunnels were launched afterwards: the Gotthard Base Tunnel in December 2016 and the Ceneri Base Tunnel in September 2020. There is an option for the further increase of the market share for rail freight. It is the second tube of the Lötschberg Base Tunnel. Its construction could start later this year and during the next year while the end is scheduled for 2028.

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