Letter to the editor

Sir - I was interested to read your report on rolling motorway services being relaunched on the Brenner main line in Austria (RG 12.05 p752). However, I feel your readers would benefit from some explanation as to what happened to prompt the relaunch.

Until 2004 a rolling motorway service operated successfully between Manching near Ingolstadt in Germany and Brennersee, close to the Italian frontier in Austria. The new services only operate from Wörgl, about 15 km south of the German border in Austria, although there are plans to reinstate services from Manching in 2006.

In 2003, an agreement ran out between the European Union and the Austrian government under which 'Eco-points' based on the level of exhaust emissions were traded for lorries transiting Austria. With modern lorries exempt from points, the restrictions previously imposed on the number of heavy goods vehicles using the Brenner motorway were lifted under pressure from the EU. The inevitable result was that haulage companies abandoned rolling motorway services.

With the relaunch of Brenner rolling motorway services by Ökombi, with 10 departures a day in each direction, traffic is switching back to rail primarily because the cost of carrying a lorry on a train is €74 compared with a payment of €94 in motorway tolls. Despite this, only around 350 lorries a day are using the service, whereas an average of 5000 a day drive on the Brenner motorway. So far the EU has not enquired about subsidies.

Ralf Roman Rossberg
Murnau, Germany