The derailment in the Gotthard Base Tunnel slowed rail freight traffic in the third quarter. Compared to the previous year, it fell by four percent. Passenger traffic, on the other hand, boomed and broke the record set in the second quarter.
The volume of rail freight transport fell to the level of the second half of 2020, as the public transport information service (Litra) and the public transport association (VÖV) show in their quarterly report. Alpine transit traffic also weakened due to falling industrial production in Europe.
Overall, freight transport by rail reached a performance of 2.87 billion net tonne kilometers between July and September. The main reason for the decline was the derailment of the freight train in the western tube of the Gotthard Base Tunnel on August 10th.
Catch-up effects help passenger traffic set a new record
In contrast to freight traffic, the derailment in the base tunnel did not affect passenger traffic in the slightest – on the contrary: train travel has never been more popular. Passenger traffic reached a new peak in the third quarter, breaking the record set in the second quarter.
The increase compared to the previous quarter was 2.6 percent and compared to the same quarter last year it was 10.7 percent. In total, the railways recorded 5.79 billion passenger kilometers. Before the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated slump, the third quarter of 2019 was the record holder, which the third quarter of 2023, however, exceeded by 5.3 percent.
Legend: A freight train traveling from the north towards the Ceneri Base Tunnel. KEYSTONE/GAETAN BALLY
Litra communications manager Simon Steinlin sees one reason for the record values this year in a certain catch-up effect after the restrictions of the pandemic, as he said when asked by the Keystone-SDA news agency.
The need for mobility is great. Leisure traffic increased accordingly. In addition, there were more commuters.
The cause of the derailment in the western tube of the Gotthard Base Tunnel was a broken wheel on a freight car. Both tubes were subsequently closed until August 23rd. Since then, freight trains have been running through the eastern tube again. The SBB mainly runs passenger traffic via the Gotthard mountain route. Full operation in the tunnel is expected in September 2024.