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A top combination: From road to rail

Nov 28, 2019 / alpMedia
It is technically and politically possible to shift freight traffic through the Alps onto rail. The AlpInnoCT project shows how it could work.
Image caption:
A handbook has been developed under the project that contains solutions, strategies and methods for combined freight transport in the Alpine region. (c) Michael Gams CIPRA International

In 2018, 223.5 million tonnes of goods rolled through the Alps, more than two thirds of them on the roads. Steadily growing traffic is one of the main problems that the sensitive ecosystem of the Alps is confronted with. Forwarders, port operators and administrations are aware of the problem; the three-year AlpInnoCT project has brought them all together. At seven dialogue events organised by CIPRA, they discussed strategies for shifting freight transport to rail. The result is a “Toolbox of Action”, a multilingual handbook with technical and political proposals for solutions. Kaspar Schuler, co-managing director of CIPRA International, explains that these proposals are addressed to all those involved, “so that the interaction between more rail and less road works optimally”.

Pilot routes and “wagon sharing”

The handbook contains a number of technical pilot measures, such as shared wagons or electronic data exchange in rail transport, which were tested on two pilot connections. In September 2019, on the transalpine transport corridor Trieste - Villach - Bettembourg, the transport company TX Logistik together with the Port of Trieste launched a new system that shortens the international handover of trains.

Overcoming political barriers

While freight trains travel at speeds of up to 200 km/h on some international routes, between Bolzano and the Brenner Pass they reach only 60 km/h in some sections. In order to solve problems like this, the rail infrastructure must be modernised. This also requires political support, as the handbook shows. Dr Karin Jäntschi-Hauke of the Bavarian Ministry of Transport, the lead partner on the project, is confident: “We are convinced that the results of AlpInnoCT will contribute to a modal shift in favour of rail”. In mid-November 2019 the final conference of the project took place in Brussels/B in the presence of members of the European Commission.

The handbook and further information on the results of the AlpInnoCT (Alpine Innovation for Combined Transport) project is available online at


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