Rail freight transport in Switzerland increased by 6.2% in 2021

Marketa Horpeniakova, Published on 24/11/2022
Rail freight transport in Switzerland increased by 6.2% in 2021
@hpgruesen on Pixabay

In 2021 the railway’s share in the total transport performance by road and rail was 37%.

The Federal Statistical Office (FSO) on Freight Transport has issued a new publication presenting data on freight transport in Switzerland for the year 2021. Data shows that in 2021 the transport performance of goods transport rose by 2.7% for road transport and by 6.2% for rail transport, which together resulted in transport growth of 4.0%. The number of kilometers traveled by heavy goods vehicles was higher than at any time in the past 20 years.

From the perspective of rail transport, a transport performance of 10.4 billion net tonne-kilometers was generated in goods transport on the Swiss railway network, being the highest level since 2016. 


In 2021, the railway's share of total transport performance by road and rail was 37%. After declining in importance in the 1980s and 1990s, rail has been able to stabilize its market share in recent years. The stabilization of the share of rail transport has been supported by the promotion of rail freight transport through railway reform, infrastructure modernization as well as subsidies and investment support. The introduction of the heavy vehicle charge (HVC) for trucks and road tractors has also had a significant impact.

Railways are mainly used for longer-distance transport. In 2021, 66% of rail freight transport performance was accounted for by transit trips. Domestic transport accounted for 23%. In 2021, imports and exports accounted for around one-tenth of rail freight transport performance.

The most frequent cross-border rail freight traffic concerns Germany, both in terms of exports and imports. The other two important countries are Belgium and Italy, but they come to a considerable distance behind Germany, in particular as far as imports are concerned.


In rail freight transport in Switzerland, a relatively large number of transport operations concern the commodities "Metal and metal products" and "Petroleum products". However, for a large part of the transport performance, the commodity cannot be statistically identified - goods are transported in containers, swap bodies, or along with the transport vehicles (so-called combined transport).



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