Transport in Switzerland

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Being in the centre of Europe, Switzerland has a dense network of roads and railways. The crossing of the Alps is an important route for European transportation, as the Alps separate Switzerland from some of its neighbours. Alpine railway routes began in 1882 with the Gotthard Rail Tunnel, followed in 1906 by the Simplon Tunnel. The Lötschberg Base Tunnel opened in 2007. The Gotthard Base Tunnel is yet to open.

The Swiss road network is funded by road tolls and vehicle taxes. The Swiss motorway system requires the purchase of a road tax disc - which costs 40 Swiss francs - for one calendar year in order to use its roadways, for both passenger cars and trucks. The Swiss motorway network has a total length of 1,638 km (as of 2000) and has also - with an area of 41,290 km² - one of the highest motorway densities in the world.

Zurich Airport is Switzerland's largest international flight gateway, handling 20.7 million passengers in 2007. The second largest airport, Geneva Cointrin, handled 10.8 million passengers and the third largest Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg Airport 4.3 million passengers, both airports being shared with France.

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Railways

Switzerland has a very high density of railway network, with an average of 122 km of track for every 1000 km2 (average of 46 km in Europe)[1]. In 2008, each Swiss citizen ran on average 2,422 km by rail, which makes them the highest rail users.[2]

Nearly all of the Swiss standard gauge railways are part of the nationwide SBB-CFF-FFS (Swiss Federal Railways) system, which also includes affiliated standard gauge lines such as BLS (Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon). In addition numerous narrow gauge railways are operated, the largest company of its kind being the Rhaetian Railways. In total 5,100 km of rail network are used.

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