Rail freight transport

© sbb cargo

The FOT is the supervisory and financing agency for rail freight in Switzerland. It ensures that rail freight has good framework conditions. The FOT implements the principle enshrined in the Federal Constitution of transferring transalpine freight from road to rail. The framework conditions are intended to enable sustainable development of domestic, import and export traffic. The railways play an important role in carrying freight: for transport through the Alps they have a market share of about 70%. The market share of rail in domestic, import and export traffic is about a quarter.

The FOT establishes framework conditions for the sustainable development of freight transport and efficient collaboration between all modes of transport. One of the tools for this is the “Konzept für den Gütertransport auf der Schiene” (Plan for freight transport by rail, in German). The Confederation also participates, via investment credits, in the construction, extension and renewal of suitable freight facilities such as feeder tracks and transhipment terminals for combined transport, and ensures non-discriminatory access to these facilities. The Confederation is also able to award investment grants for technical innovations in rail freight transport.

Using the “Network usage concept” and “Network usage plan”, the Confederation also ensures that there are attractive rights (train paths) for freight traffic on the rail network, and that it is not displaced by the expansion of passenger traffic.

Favourable framework conditions should make rail freight services economically viable. Accordingly, the operating subsidies are time-limited: for single wagonload traffic and services in non-transalpine combined transport, they are limited to the end of 2018; for transalpine combined transport to 2023; and for the Confederation’s participation in the Cantons’ orders (freight transport by narrow-gauge railways) to 2027.

Ein Kranwagen hebt einen Container auf einen Güterzug.

Transfer of transalpine freight traffic from road to rail

Since the Swiss voters approved the 1994 “Alpine Initiative”, the principle has been enshrined in the Federal Constitution, to transfer transit freight traffic through the Alps from road to rail.