THE SWISS government has confirmed that rail will remain the preferred mode for north-south transit freight, approving in June the allocation of SFr1·6bn to support transit rail freight in 2011-18. The funds are specified in legislation that will replace the current law which expires in 2010 (RG 10.06 p641).

The new law requires a target limit of 650 000 lorries a year to be achieved 'as soon as possible'. Under legislation dating from the late 1990s, this figure was to have been reached in 2009, but delays in building the Lötschberg and Gotthard base tunnels mean that insufficient capacity will be available on the rail network to meet the target by that date. In 2006 the number of lorries transiting Switzerland was 1·2 million, and the government has set an interim limit of 1 million lorries in 2011. Rail's share of transit freight is currently 66%.

The funding for 2011-18 will be used primarily to develop wagonload, swap body and container traffic, with a proportion allocated to expansion of rolling motorway services which carried 80 800 lorries in 2006; 87 000 are expected in 2007. Tenders will be called for rolling motorway services able to handle 400 000 lorries a year.

Other measures planned include the easing of certain regulations governing rail freight traffic and development of a 'market' for transalpine road freight; this will need to be implemented in consultation with other countries, and a feasibility study has been commissioned for completion in mid-2009.