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Regulation in freight transport – Impacts within the transport sector (SVI2009/004)

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Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Project website
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Smart mobility and services (SMO)
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues


Background & Policy context

Freight transport is an important economic factor, a complex organisation (with different international actors) and a political factor at the same time. The high level of regulation in Switzerland illustrates the importance and the requirements of Swiss freight transport policy.

So far, the focus has mainly been on transalpine freight transport and related modal shift measures. In relation to this, the Swiss law on freight modal shift has defined a comprehensive policy package. The ongoing challenges in freight transport however claim for a broader focus, including all regulative measures, also non-transalpine transport (inland and import-export transport) and the national and international transport and logistics sector.

The research programme "Freight Transport" oft the Federal Roads Office and therein the project D focus on all transport segments and aim to analyse the interrelations between market and politics, to learn from foreign experiences and other sectors, to understand liberalisation processes, to look at blind spots within an integrated systematic approach. Based on this analysis, conclusions with regard to the further development of the regulative system will be drawn.


The project has the following objectives:

  • To structure regulation instruments;
  • To evaluate today’s regulation in Switzerland;
  • To analyse international experience and trends;
  • To conduct impact analysis of liberalisation in the freight transport sector;
  • To analyse new regulation instruments: Reaction and impacts within the freight transport sector considering integrated logistics and transport chains and actors;
  • To deduct consequences for transport research and policy.

An approach with six work packages was proposed. After structuring the regulation,  the experiences from Switzerland and abroad will be evaluated in order to determine the basis for the assessment of the current regulative and good practices. The appreciation of the regulations is made in the context of a SWOT analysis. On this basis, individual measures and case studies with respect to their impact on the traffic and transport industry are evaluated in order to derive options for optimizing Switzerland's regulator.

The project defines:

  • Modes: focus on road and rail traffic and combined transport chains. Here are (where relevant) inland waterway transport and air transport included (as part of the transport chain for combined transport).
  • Segmentation of the market into the submarkets. The analysis refers in particular to the domestic and import / export traffic. Transalpine transport is used in particular as a reference for the assessment of measures.
  • Spatially: Switzerland territory, with the involvement of the major axes of the individual import-export traffic axes. For the case study analyses individual regions are selected (eg delivery traffic in urban areas). The experience from Switzerland and Europe are included.
  • Time: The overall analysis also includes the future development (forecasts).
  • Trends, developments in the regulatory field
  • Structuring of the regulatory framework


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Swiss Government: State Secretariat for Education and Research
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


The project results are summarized in the final report.

The derived five lines of development can be summarised as follows:

1. Increased target achievement:

Capacity increase: The potentials for road transport are linked to a long term oriented integrated approach for mobility pricing with differentiated capacity pricing. At the same time efficiency increases can be realised with specific changes of the night driving ban and adapted regulation at customs. In rail transport, the foreseen changes of the Swiss track pricing system are a useful basis to provide incentives for a better use of scarce rail capacities. Further potentials can be realised with concrete priorisation of important (economically and transit political) railway tracks and slots with a high quality and reliability.

Environmental performance: Pricing incentives (differentiated track prices for noise and CO2-taxes) enable the increase of the environmental efficiency of rail and road rolling stock. These incentives should go hand in hand with the policy to internalise further external costs. Herein it has to be considered that lorries already pay their external costs with the HGV fee. In general, the energy saving potential of freight transport is lower than that for passenger transport (especially private cars).

Modals shift aim for transalpine transport: The most important instruments have already been evaluated in different research studies (federal office of transport, international studies). In order to reach the targets of the modal shift objective, a steering instrument such as the Alpine transit exchange is most effective. However there are trade off‘s to consider such as the efficiency of total transalpine transport and the need for international coordination and improvement of overall rail capacities along the transalpine corridors. It is a challenge to gain acceptance for such measures and the financing of related costs and possible excess burdens. The foreseen maintenance ofthe Gotthard road tunnel after 2020 (and the related closure for several years) however increases the need for modal shift in order to avoid capacity problems and negative economic impacts for road transport.

2. Efficiency increase for road transport

The night driving ban secures the division of labour road rail and has a protective function. Major modal split shifts would happen with a loosening of the ban for transit traffic, especially a shift of foreign transport to Swiss corridor


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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