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The national transport costs are set out in the so-called Transport Account for Switzerland, which summarizes the total outgoings for and revenue from road and rail facilities. Complementing the existing sub-accounts for internal infrastructure and running costs (Road and Rail Accounts) and the estimates of external transport costs, the Transport Account is designed to provide a full picture of the cost situation.
The term external transport costs denotes those costs imposed, but not borne by users of the mobility infrastructure. The key factors in this regard include accidents, noise, health protection, climate, nature and landscape. Expenditure borne by society as a whole for public service provision is not allocated to the external transport costs.
Account is taken of all transport costs, including external costs and benefits, in accordance with the originator principle. This concept influences the individual's choice of transport mode and boosts the efficiency of the overall system by promoting competition between the different transport options. The distance-related Heavy Vehicle Fee (HVF) is designed to charge heavy-goods vehicles for the costs they impose on the country as a whole.
The price per tonne-kilometre is determined on the basis of the external costs of road-freight traffic. The HVF represents the first broadly based mechanism for the apportionment of external transport costs. Under the terms of the Federal Heavy Vehicle Fee Act (Schwerverkehrsabgabegesetz; SVAG), Article 7, para. 3, the Federal Assembly is obliged to update its estimates of external heavy-goods transport costs and benefits on a regular basis in line with the latest research findings.
Benefits of transport
By contributing to the generation of added value, economic growth and employment, road and rail transport offers wide-ranging benefits. Its price and utility are intensely discussed in many circles, and its costs - specifically its external costs - have been the subject of various studies. For a definitive assessment, the Federal Office for Spatial Development (ARE) and the Federal Roads Authority (FEDRO) jointly commissioned a study on the benefits of transport.
But benefits come in many different forms and shapes. The study analysed their various manifestations and succeeded in structuring the many different concepts of transport utility and the ways of reconciling them with the attendant costs. It comprises four sub-projects plus a synthesis report and was published on 27 October 2006 in conjunction with the Transport Account and external climate costs.
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