From road to rail.
The objective: to shift freight from road to rail.
The transfer of transalpine freight from road to rail is a prime objective of Swiss transport policy. The Swiss electorate has repeatedly voted for this objective so as to conserve the Alpine region.
The "new transalpine rail routes" (NEAT) project covering the Lötschberg and Gotthard routes is the centrepiece of the European railfreight corridor between Rotterdam and Genoa and, as such, forms the foundation of Switzerland's policy of transferring traffic from road to rail.
Once the Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels are operational (late 2016 and late 2020 respectively), the level-track rail route between Basel and Ticino will become a reality. Thanks to the gentler gradients, freight traffic will become more efficient and environmentally friendly: goods will reach their destinations more rapidly and fewer locomotives will be needed to haul the trains.
However, these improvements will not be sufficient to attain the long-term objective of transferring traffic from road to rail. In order to encourage further growth, SBB will on behalf of the federal government upgrade the Gotthard route to a 4-metre corridor by 2020. While the Lötschberg-Simplon route already benefits from this profile, at present only semitrailers and containers with a 3.84-metre headroom can be carried on the Gotthard route. Although the Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels have a 4-metre headroom, the approach routes from the North and the South do not.
Creating a 4-metre corridor along the Gotthard route is, therefore, an appropriate measure for transferring additional freight traffic from road to rail as of 2020 and thus for supporting the electorate's demands. The Federal Council expects that the two new Lötschberg and Gotthard transalpine rail routes will result in a threefold increase in rail traffic. In other words: instead of the 80,000 transalpine truck trips a year, from 2030 trains will reduce the number of trips by around 240,000.
The 4-metre Gotthard corridor will enhance rail traffic's competitiveness and make a further important contribution to conserving the Alpine region.