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Alpine transit exchange - a feasible, efficient and cost-effactive solution

An Alpine transit exchange is seen as a viable option for promoting a shift from road to rail for transalpine heavy goods vehicle traffic. A report commissioned by the Swiss Ministry of Transport has confirmed the technical feasibility and economic acceptability of such a solution.
It is now up to the Swiss government to take the political decision as to whether a transit exchange should be established and if so in what form.
The proposed Alpine transit exchange would work on the principle of limiting the number of transalpine lorry journeys where a system of individual transit rights that could be traded on an Internet-based exchange. The idea was put forward by the Swiss environmental group Alpen-Initiative, who see trading in transit rights as an intelligent instrument for reducing the volume of goods transported by road over the Alps. The independent report confirms this assumption.
In their work, the experts studied two systems, which are both considered practicable. The first employs a slot management model, which is a basic reservation system in which carriers acquire transit rights for a certain time window or slot. This system does not support the goal of a modal shift but simply helps avoid congestion resulting from an excessive number of HGVs on the main Alpine corridors at any one time. The cap-and-trade model, on the other hand, corresponds to the idea of an Alpine transit exchange as proposed by the Alpen-Initiative organisation, with a limited number of transit rights to be auctioned and then traded freely among carriers. That would permit the desired shift from road to rail to be targeted with maximum precision. In the case of the cap-and-trade model in particular, the authors of the report recommend that the system be introduced as a concerted action involving Switzerland's neighbouring countries in the Alps so as not to generate detour traffic.
At the present time Switzerland still has a long way to go in achieving its modal shift target, namely a reduction in the number of HGVs crossing the Alps to 650,000 by 2009, which is half the figure for 2003. According to the Swiss Ministry of Transport, the idea of a transit exchange is to be further pursued at the national and international level.
Sources, infos and the report for downloading: www.verkehr-schweiz.ch/dokumentation (de), www.alpeninitiative.ch/d/Aktuell.asp (de)