Transalpine goods transport

Quantity transported (rail and road)

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 37.8 million net tonnes in 2019. 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 2019 71% of the net tonnes transported through the Alps were transported by rail. The share of combined transport in rail transport rose from 17% to 75% between 1981 and 2019.

Quantity of goods transported through the Swiss Alps in 2019
Total rail and road 37.8 million tonnes1
Rail share 71%
Road share 29%
Change rail from 2000 30%
Change road from 2000 25%
Share of combined transport in rail transport 75%
1) In combined transport without weighting of vehicles and transport containers Source: FOT, FEDRO – Transalpine goods transport

Trips of heavy goods vehicles

In 2019, 0.90 million 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).

Trips by heavy goods vehicles¹ through the Swiss Alps in 2019
Total number of trips 0.90 million
Change from 2000 –36%
Gotthard share 72%
Foreign vehicles share 69%
Switzerlands share in the total of trips through the inner alpine arc (Fréjus-Brennerr) 18%
1) More than 3.5 tonnes
Source: FOT, FEDRO – Transalpine goods transport

Further information


Statistical concepts


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