Swiss lorry charges help slow traffic growth

First results from Swiss scheme come in as debate quickens on planned German charges

Swiss motorway charges on lorries introduced at the beginning of this year have helped stop growth in freight traffic, the spatial development ministry has reported.

After steady increases in heavy traffic between 1997 and 2000, the figures for the first seven months of 2001 show an 8% drop. Under the Swiss scheme, fees range from SFr0.36 (euros 0.24) to SFr 0.50 per kilometre depending on axle weight and emissions class.

The ministry acknowledges that other factors have also been important. Under an agreement with the EU, the maximum weight limit for lorries has been increased from 28 to 34 tonnes. The shift to larger vehicles as well as efficiency improvements in the haulage sector such as a drop in the number of unladen trips have both helped reduce the number of trips.

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