15. October 2010

“We have tears in our eyes when we look towards Switzerland.”

Gotthard tunnelling completed / rail expansion in Germany lags behind

 
“A milestone for the environment”: Tunnelling on the Gotthard tunnel was completed today. It will open for trains in 2017.

Berlin. To mark the breakthrough in the Gotthard base tunnel, the German Pro-Rail Alliance today congratulated Switzerland on its outstanding and far-sighted policies on shifting freight transport off the roads. “Today is a milestone for the environment. We have tears in our eyes when we look towards Switzerland,” said Dirk Flege, managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance on Friday in Berlin.

Flege pointed out that the Gotthard tunnel is only one factor in Switzerland’s strategy to shift freight to rail. “The Swiss have come up with a triad of transport policies,” said Flege. “They are pumping billions into infrastructure projects, they have liberalised access to their rail network, and their comprehensive HGV toll system has made the cost of freight transport more transparent.” Flege pointed out that the Swiss want to see transport shifted from the roads to the railways. A recent survey by the LINK institute for the ‘Alpen-Initiative’ found that 79 percent of Swiss citizens back a modal shift to rail. Two thirds of people would even like to see HGVs banned in road tunnels once the Gotthard base tunnel opens for rail freight transport in 2017.

Flege called on the German federal government to act now to ensure that priority is given to modernising Germany’s rail links to the Gotthard tunnel. Contrary to Germany’s 1996 international agreement with Switzerland, work on expanding the route between Karlsruhe and Basel is behind schedule. “The federal Government has to put all its efforts into meeting the deadline,” said Flege. This means that a considerable increase in funding for rail infrastructure has now become necessary. The Pro-Rail Alliance also demanded a courageous support programme to pay for reducing the level of noise emitted by the fleet of freight wagons. “In Germany, the number of people wanting to see a shift towards the railways is even higher at 90 percent,” added Flege. “But they are also expecting their politicians to solve the noise problem, and rightly so.”

 

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