BOTH SWISS Federal Railways and Austrian Federal Railways reported strong growth in freight business last year. Transit traffic between Italy and other EU countries is booming, and total tonnage carried by ÖBB was up by nearly 9% at 84·7 million, with intermodal traffic increasing by 17%. Around 300000 lorries were moved on rolling motorway trains, up from 250000 in 1999, and Rail Cargo Austria is hoping for 400000 this year following the launch of additional services this month from Wels to Maribor.

SBB is carrying record loads too, with more than 60 million tonnes moved for the first time last year and tonne-km up 10% at 10800 million. Growth in the last four years has been remarkable, the total for 1996 having been just 44 million tonnes. That SBB Cargo made an operating loss of SFr59m on turnover of SFr1081m in 2000 indicates, as Director of SBB Cargo Daniel Nordmann wrote last month (RG 5.01 p329), that productivity must improve further for rail freight to remain a viable national business.