CIPRA representatives:

Personal tools

  Search filter  


Transit traffic: a partial success on the Gotthard Pass

Apr 12, 2017
The Gotthard Pass has seen a historic low in transalpine goods traffic since the adoption of the law governing the modal shift. In contrast, the number of trucks crossing the Brenner Pass continues to increase.
Image caption:
Road haulage over the Brenner Pass continues to increase. ©

The Swiss Federal Office of Transport FOT has now published its statistics for the year 2016. A partial success on the Gotthard Pass may be celebrated: the number of truck journeys in the past year fell below one million. This is the historically lowest level recorded since 1994, when the Swiss public voted for the “popular initiative for the protection of the Alpine area from transit traffic”, demanding a shift of goods transport from road to rail. The sum of goods transported remains about the same: while the proportion carried by rail has increased, the proportion carried by road has dropped. The implementation of the modal shift is thus taking small steps in the right direction. The interim target for implementing the law was achieved five years later than planned, however: and the intended limit of a maximum of 650,000 journeys for 2017/2018 is completely unrealistic.

The Brenner Pass: still stinking

In contrast, on the Brenner Pass the most important Alpine transit route for goods transportation, ever more goods are being transported by road. Even the proportion carried by rail is falling. Here, two thirds of goods are transported by road, the opposite of the situation on the Gotthard Pass. The Brenner Pass between the Italian province of South Tyrol and the Austrian federal state of Tyrol is thus the most important north-south traffic axis in the Alps. The volume of goods transported in tonnes is nearly twice that for the Gotthard Pass and is also much greater than for the other Austrian-Italian and French-Italian Alpine crossings.

A disappointment for local people

“Politicians have left people on the Alpine passes in the lurch”, says Peter Hasslacher, president of CIPRA Austria. If the route – or even detour – over the Brenner Autobahn is substantially cheaper than using rail, or the more direct route through Switzerland, more than new infrastructure will be needed. “We need immediate measures to tackle the health of the population, a strategy for the modal shift and, finally, solidarity within the Euregio.” He dismisses as “eyewash” the partial traffic ban in Tyrol, which since 2016 has forbidden the transport of goods that are equally suitable for transport by rail, such as stones, waste, wood or motor vehicles. “Those who suffer from this traffic policy adopted by individual Alpine states, regions and the European Union are the residents and the natural environment along the traffic axes.”

An Alpine-wide traffic policy

Road transport of goods across the Alps has enormous ecological and sociocultural effects on the region as a habitat. Most stakeholders, such as hauliers, port operators, administrations and consumers are already aware of the negative effects, such as air pollution and noise emissions, and are often working on solutions. What is lacking now is an Alpine-wide dialogue for a common traffic policy. AlpInnoCT is active in this respect: it is a three-year project aimed at promoting an Alpine-wide, transnational exchange between players at all levels. CIPRA International is involved in the project via the non-profit body CIPRA International Lab GmbH.


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