Austria and Switzerland
The Alpine region: industry and logistics with a European connection
As in Germany, goods transport and logistics also play an important role in the Alpine countries of Austria and Switzerland. Even if both countries are economically more strongly influenced by tourism, the occurrence of industry and manufacturing companies in the individual metropolitan areas is quite high. Due to the sometimes difficult topography of the Alpine regions, national and international freight traffic flows are concentrated on a few axes.
Despite the tourism character of Austria, more than a quarter of the employees work in industry. The largest areas are the food industry, metal processing, mechanical engineering, wood processing. It seems understandable that most companies in these areas are located in the country’s metropolitan areas. These are in particular the metropolitan areas of
- Innsbruck (Tyrol)
- Villach/Klagenfurt (Carinthia)
- Graz (Styria)
- Wels and Steyr (Upper Austria)
- the Vienna Basin in Lower Austria.
Sufficiently large production, storage and logistics areas can be developed here for companies and the connection to a powerful and reliable road and rail infrastructure is excellent. The largest companies by number of employees are OMV AG, Porsche Holding, Strabag, Rewe Group Austria, Spar Austria and voestalpine
The two most important import and export countries are the neighbors Germany and Italy. This interdependence and the geographical location between Central and Southern Europe have led to Austria’s great importance as a transit country. However, this great importance also means a great burden for the few regions and valleys through which international passenger and goods traffic by road and rail leads. This is primarily the Brenner axis Munich – Innsbruck – Bolzano – Verona, the Tauern axis Munich – Villach – Trieste and the connection via the Semmering Vienna – Graz – Slovenia/Croatia.
Not only small-scale production at international production sites, but also cost pressure and increasing customer requirements in terms of price, quality, time and environmental friendliness call for new, innovative concepts from transport and logistics service providers. The creation of continuous, adaptive, product and time-flexible value chains that take into account the specific needs of producers, suppliers, dealers and end customers pose major challenges for the economy. The infrastructure on land, air and water in Austria therefore corresponds to international standards. Ecological aspects have become increasingly important with the increase in traffic volume in recent decades. In the meantime, 32% of all goods in Austria are transported by rail, be it in pure container transport or with the concept of the rolling highway. This is a 14% higher share of the modal split compared to the EU average. The intermodal goods handling terminals in Vienna South, Wels, St. Michael, Villach South and Wolfurt link international business locations and seaports. The role of ships as a means of transport in the Danube region must not be forgotten either. With the Danube there is a river that connects Germany and Austria with the Black Sea and via the Rhine-Main-Danube Canal with the ports of Duisburg, Rotterdam and Antwerp. More than 120 companies are based in the port of Vienna alone, handling more than a million tons of goods and more than 300,000 containers every year.
Accordingly, the transport and logistics sector occupies third place in the job statistics after the manufacturing industry and the tourism sector. 11,000 companies (forwarders, transport, handling, warehouse logistics providers, logistics technology providers and transport companies) employ around 160,000 people. In addition to the Austrian Federal Railways and their group’s own freight transport division Rail Cargo Austria, these are above all
- Gebrüder Weiss Holding AG
- Österreichische Post AG
- LKW Walter Internationale Transportorganisation AG
- cargo-partner Group Holding AG
- Schenker & Co AG
- Austrian Airlines AG (AUA)
- Kuehne + Nagel GmbH
When it comes to Switzerland, the reputation of Switzerland as a financial center and tourist country comes to mind. Both are true, but at least around 20% of the employed work in the areas of trade and commerce. The largest sectors are the construction industry, watchmaking and precision instrument industry, metal processing, machine and vehicle construction, chemicals, food. Small and medium-sized companies (up to 249 employees), which account for more than 99% of all Swiss companies, are dominant and the two Provide third of all jobs. Conversely, this means that the number of large companies with international importance is small, but their performance is all the more impressive. Names such as
- ABB (mechanical engineering)
- Lindt & Sprüngli
- Givaudan (food industry)
- Novartis Roche (pharmaceutical industry)
- Syngenta and Clariant (chemical industry)
- Swatch Group and Richemont (watch and luxury goods industry)
have reached world level and receive reputation every day of Swiss industry as a manufacturer of quality products.
In these large companies in particular, very high-quality goods are produced in large quantities, e.g. B. Medical technology products, pharmaceuticals, precision instruments, apparatuses as well as for the pharmaceutical industry or luxury watches. As a result, Switzerland has now overtaken the Federal Republic of Germany with its industrial share of value creation.
The regional distribution of the industrial sites can be narrowed down quite precisely to the west and north of the country. One cluster is in the canton of Vaud around Lake Geneva from Geneva via Lausanne to Vevey. Nestlé, the world’s largest food manufacturer, is based here. The large companies in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries (Roche, Novartis, Syngenta, Clariant) are traditionally concentrated on the Rhine in and around Basel. In addition to the dominant modes of transport, road and rail, goods transport by inland waterways on the Rhine is still justified with around 6 million tons handled. Around 10% of all imports are handled via the Rhine ports of Basel, Muttenz, Kleinhüningen, Birsfelden and Rheinfelden. Basel benefits from its favorable location on the Rotterdam-Genoa freight corridor. Therefore, a new trimodal container terminal is planned here, which will connect the modes of transport ship, train and truck. Up to 390,000 TEU or block trains with a length of more than 700 meters are to be handled in the terminal every year.
As already mentioned, Swiss goods traffic is mainly handled over land, i.e. by road and rail. The modal split differs depending on the source and destination region: in domestic freight transport, 63% of the volume is carried by trucks, 37% by rail. In transalpine freight traffic, the situation is significantly different because of the tolls for trucks, where the rail share is 75%. Most of the transalpine rail freight traffic is carried out on two axes, which have been consistently expanded in recent decades. These are the Lötschberg-Simplon route and the Gotthardt route, which reinforce the freight transport corridor Rotterdam-Duisburg-Karlsruhe-Basel-Milan-Genoa by using the Lötschberg and Gotthard base tunnels. BLS Cargo AG is primarily active on these two axes, while SBB Cargo and SBB Cargo International AG serve the other national routes. SBB Cargo is also active within the freight corridor between Rotterdam and Genoa and has locations in Rotterdam, Duisburg and Gallarate.