Letter: Sense of Swiss ban on transit lorries

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article infers that the decision to ban transit freight from Alpine roads flouts the concept of the single market because freight will be 'confined to consignments by rail and air'.

The Alps, like the Channel, present a serious obstacle to land transport. The British and French governments chose a rail tunnel as the most efficient way to move cars and lorries across the Channel. They did so because a road tunnel posed severe air pollution and safety problems. The Swiss have likewise committed themselves to large, deep-level rail tunnels that will permit a stream of trains to shuttle lorries between Switzerland and Italy on two routes. The 30-mile Gotthard base tunnel will be ready in 2005, when the transit lorry ban comes into effect.

Today, the Swiss also face serious pollution and safety problems on Alpine roads if 44-tonne lorries gain unlimited access. Like us, they have elected to carry these lorries on trains. Why were we right but they guilty of 'xenophobia'?

Yours sincerely,

RICHARD HOPE

Consultant Editor

Railway Gazette

Sutton, Surrey

22 February

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