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Italy threatens to grind to a halt

Sep 18, 2013 / alpMedia
The Gotthard rail tunnel is due to open in 2016, with the aim of transporting the majority of goods between Italy and Switzerland by train. But the necessary infrastructure is lacking in Italy. Will the result be traffic chaos?
Image caption:
Environmental and transport organisations are demanding a unified traffic policy as the only way of successfully shifting freight from road to rail. © Eva Freude /
Swiss Transport Minister Doris Leuthard visited her Italian opposite number Maurizio Lupi in Rome at the beginning of September. The discussion centred on shifting goods traffic from road to rail and the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in 2016. The completion of the new transalpine rail link will enable tens of millions more tonnes of goods to be transported by rail. According to the Italian environmental organisation Legambiente, however, Italy is completely unprepared for this. "Transport policy has so far concentrated on the strategically less important Lyon-Turin rail connection and on expanding the road network." The necessary access spurs and logistics centres for connection to the new transalpine railway link are lacking. Legambiente warns that once goods have arrived in Italy they will have to be loaded onto trucks, thus clogging up the roads.
These failings are not new. But Switzerland now wants to assist Italy financially in the building of the southern section. "We want to be involved in the planning and we also want clear guarantees that the access spurs in Italy will function", said Leuthard. In view of these efforts, Legambiente and the Swiss Alpine Initiative regard the simultaneous construction of a second bore for road traffic through the Gotthard tunnel as counter-productive, as it would nullify the potential of rail transport. Instead of new infrastructure, what is needed are effective control instruments such as an Alpine transit exchange.

Sources and further information: (de/fr/it), (it), (de/fr/it), (de)