Transportation in the Alps

Transalpine traffic is dramatically increasing, at the cost of Alpine nature and human health.
The Alps constitute a natural barrier to transit traffic. Nonetheless, nearly 150 million people cross the Alps every year, 83% by road.

The dense road and rail networks in Alpine valleys exacts a heavy toll through space-eating traffic infrastructure, noise, and air pollution. It is also a leading cause of habitat fragmentation constituting a major barrier for Alpine species.

Additionally, so-called domestic (inner-alpine) traffic has grown exponentially, now constituting the bulk of all Alpine traffic. This domestic traffic is distributed over many different roads so that all main valleys and most side valleys are heavily polluted. 

Increasing levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions is damaging forests and other ecosystems through acid rain and the introduction of damaging nutrients.  

Tourism is a major driver of traffic in the Alps, especially in high remote areas with tourist resorts and scenic secondary roads. Air pollution in these areas is even more serious due to the high altitudes.

What We Do

The European Alpine Programme coordinates WWF's conservation work across the Alps. Check out Our Solutions page to read more about what WWF is doing to conserve Alpine nature.

Alpine traffic

Crowded car park near Zermatt, Switzerland / ©: A. Weissen / WWF European Alpine Programme
There is 4,200 km of main roads winding within the Alpine perimeter.
 
190 million tonnes of freight cross the Alps per year – 65% of this occurs by road transport.
 
Around 6 million vehicles drive within the boundaries of the Alpine arc each year.

Source: Alpine Convention
  •  / ©: WWF European Alpine Programme
    In the next 20 years, Alpine transit is expected to increase by 100% for freight and 50% for passenger traffic.

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