A significant proportion of international goods transport between northern and southern Europe goes over Swiss alpine passes. The quantity transported over Swiss alpine passes by road and rail reached a total of 34.8 million net tonnes in 2020. This was more than twice as much as in 1981, the year after the Gotthard tunnel was opened. The share of goods transported by road recorded a particularly large increase. But in contrast to neighbouring countries, Switzerland's transalpine goods transport is still mostly done by rail: In 2020 72% of the net tonnes transported through the Alps were transported by rail. The share of combined transport in rail transport rose from 17% to 77% between 1981 and 2020.
Quantity transported (rail and road)
|Total rail and road||34.8 million tonnes1|
|Change rail from 2000||+22%|
|Change road from 2000||+10%|
|Share of combined transport in rail transport||77%|
Trips of heavy goods vehicles
In 2020, 863 000 heavy goods vehicles crossed the Swiss Alps, almost three quarters of which chose the Gotthard route. Between 1981 and 2000, the annual number of trips by heavy goods vehicles across the Swiss Alps had quadrupled to 1.4 million. Since then, a decrease has been observed, which can be attributed among other things to the implementation of modal shift measures, the introduction of the performance-related heavy vehicle charge and the increase in weight limits from 2001 onwards. The economic situation in Europe, especially in Italy, also greatly influences the trend in transalpine goods transport.
The entire inner alpine arc (Fréjus to Brenner) was crossed by approximately 5.0 million heavy goods vehicles in 2019. Most of these vehicles used Austrian alpine passes (54%). Swiss and French alpine passes registered significantly smaller shares of vehicles (18% and 28%, respectively).
|Total number of trips||0.86 million|
|Change from 2000||–39%|
|Foreign vehicles share||68%|
|Switzerlands share in the total of trips through the inner alpine arc (Fréjus-Brennerr)||18% (2019)|
Source: FOT, FEDRO – Transalpine goods transport