SWITZERLAND’s federal council has approved a report containing reform proposals designed to develop rail freight in the country and put it on a more stable financial footing.

The proposals will cover rail freight within Switzerland as well as import and export markets. According to the law, rail freight must be self-financing, however the Federal Transport Office (BAV) says this is a major challenge because wagonload carrying different goods requires complex planning and handling.

The federal council is now presenting various scenarios for the further development of rail freight as well as options for adapting the legal framework and for financial support.

However, BAV says the central question is whether and how the current loss-making wagonload traffic should be positioned so that it can continue to contribute to the security of supply and help meet climate targets.

BAV has commissioned the federal department of the environment, transport, energy and communications (Detec) to draw up a draft consultation document by autumn 2022 with two main targets. The first will focus on continued operation of self-financing freight transport geared towards competition while transporting goods by rail will be strengthened with additional incentives such as discounts for shippers.

The second will focus on the extensive modernisation of single-wagonload traffic in coordination with the industry and to make it more attractive to customers in a targeted manner. This will require comprehensive financial support from the federal government.