Traffic jams in the Gotthard tunnel are becoming a thing of the past

For almost 20 years, a central pillar of Swiss traffic policy has been to shift trans-Alpine goods transport from the roads to rail. Despite this, a growing number of lorries still thunder their way through the Gotthard tunnel every day. Thanks to the cooperation with Coop subsidiary railCare, since the beginning of 2013 only a very small number of Emmi lorries are among them.

Many of us get annoyed about traffic jams in the Gotthard tunnel at Easter time. For lorry drivers, however, they are a daily nuisance. The aim of reducing the number of lorries crossing through the Gotthard tunnel to one million per year is still some way off yet. This is because alternatives are scarce and costs are high. In addition, certain logistics obstacles still have to be overcome. For Emmi, for example, it was not possible to ship goods directly to clients by rail. Until recently, containers had to be taken off the train in Ticino and reloaded onto lorries, which naturally led to a considerable amount of time and money being lost.

The trump card: flexibility

This is where Coop subsidiary railCare comes in. It now offers a modular transport chain that uses special mobile containers.

This means the advantages of road transport can be combined with those of rail transport. Emmi has decided to use this system and now gathers all products destined for Ticino's Coop branches in Emmen, Kirchberg, Ostermundigen and Suhr. Pallets that are ready for shipment are loaded on to the mobile containers in these locations. They are then taken to Oensingen by lorry. Here, the containers are loaded on trains and delivered directly by rail to Coop's regional warehouse in Castione. Sixteen Euro-pallets can be transported per mobile container. Since the volumes ordered by Coop in Castione vary daily, the number of mobile containers required can only be ascertained once an order has been definitively placed. On top of this, the time window between order receipt and shipping has become even narrower. Previously, the period available for commissioning, preparing, loading, transporting and delivery notes ran from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Today, everything has to be completed by 5.30 p.m., making significantly less time available, but not even that is too much for the transport scheduling team in Emmen!

An annual reduction of 720 lorryloads

The extra effort is worth it: today, around 1,200 pallets are transported through the Gotthard tunnel by rail rather than by road each month. That amounts to more than 700 lorryloads per year, producing a saving of several thousand litres of fuel. This is good for the environment, and for the company's budgets. In view of the somewhat gloomy outlook for road transport in Ticino, shifting from road to rail is a model that is geared to the future. As soon as sufficient experience has been gained, Emmi will seek to develop talks with further customers in Ticino.