Support measures needed for rail freight to get through the Alpine tunnel closures

Trans-Alpine rail freight traffic is facing serious difficulties. Two of the tunnels which rail freight is reliant on, namely the Frejus and Gotthard Base Tunnel, remain totally or partially closed. Frejus tunnel will remain closed until the end of 2024 due to a landslide which occurred in August, whilst the Gotthard base Tunnel (GBT) will remain partially closed until September 2024 due to a derailment which occurred during the same month. Strategic support measures are required to ensure these temporary restrictions in capacity will not have a severe negative impact on rail freight operators and the sector.

It has been estimated that the direct impact of the closures is estimated to cost Italian railway operators around 50 million euros per year due to a drop in revenues and extra costs. This could rise to an additional 140 million euros in the longer term. The Italian logistics sector moves more than 30% of goods by rail through the Alpine Mountain corridors and these closures put the entire rail freight and logistics system in difficulty. Gotthard and Frejus together are on two fundamental axes of European logistics.

Almost 170 million tons of goods transit through the Alpine passes to Austria, Switzerland, and France every year. In rail transport, it is not possible to efficiently divert all traffic to other passes if a certain axis is totally interrupted. The option of diverting traffic is very slight, especially considering long-established issues regarding interoperability.

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