For almost 300 million francs, Swiss Post has just built four new sorting centers in the immediate vicinity of road and rail routes – an indispensable prerequisite for obtaining permits.
The Geographer’s Eye (I)
This summer, The post gives the geographer Giuliano Broggini carte blanche for a series of articles. CO
With the completion of the youngest sorting center in Vétroz (VS), the mission has now been accomplished. The four centers Vétroz (VS), Ostermundingen (BE), Untervaz (GR) and Cadenazzo (TI) are in operation and are actually not only within reach of a motorway connection, but also right next to an SBB railway line.
Problem: The hoped-for alliance between rail traffic for long distances and road traffic for local traffic is missing. Overview.
The legendary mail wagons
In Valais, as elsewhere in Switzerland, La Poste traditionally used public transport to deliver its mail, regularly up until the 1970s and 1980s and occasionally again in the decades that followed.
Beginning with the CFF trains, whose trains between Lausanne and Brig systematically included a postal carriage, with PTT (post, telephone, telegram) staff tasked with sorting.
But also bicycles hung on hooks, prisoners locked in their small cells or, more rarely, cattle parked on a grid floor were accommodated in these mail wagons.
At the bus stops in the Rhône Valley train stations, the migrant employees quickly threw their bags onto the heavy trolleys parked on the platforms, which then only had to be towed to the neighboring post office, which is of course next to the station. Higher up, the postbus drivers unloaded the mail themselves, assisted by the postal workers from the mountain villages, who then drove off with the bag over their shoulder. Not to forget, even higher, the packages and letters left on the bottom of the gondolas.
From the plain to the heights, from the cities to the small villages, there was a natural complicity between the two large federal companies, CFF and PTT, which later became La Poste. Duldung from the middle of the 20th century, from the days of steam locomotives and mail coaches.
By truck to the train station
However, over time, the centuries-old natural connections have loosened and logic has become motorized. Last episode: recently the last postal quays of Valais serving the posts of Sion and Sierre were closed forever.
In the canton, all post offices are now being delivered exclusively on the street. And that’s even if they’re in a central station with sidings used exclusively by La Poste.
The new sorting center skilfully turns its back on rail
The new Vétroz sorting center in Valais, which is set to replace the small sorting centers in Bex, Sion, Sierre and Brig, is no exception.
If the postal workers now have to take their car from Bex or Brig to get to the Vétroz industrial area, which is completely inaccessible by public transport, we could hope that, knowing about the existence of the Ardon freight railway line Aproz. Because the new sorting center is being built in the immediate vicinity of the bottling plant.
Why mention the waters of Aproz? Because Migros transports them almost exclusively by rail with their twenty daily wagons. And that we logically imagined that La Poste would do the same.
It is not so. The brand new sorting center actually runs along the rail. But the post office skillfully turns its back on her. All transports are carried out exclusively by truck. And Mr. Dreier (Head of Dreier AG, transport and logistics company) can be happy: he delivered 25 MAN TGX vehicles (“the best man ever”) to La Poste. SBB Cargo no longer has to transport mail wagons from Daillens (VD) to Brig or Sion, the truckers take care of that.
The railway line between Sion and Lausanne now points to a definitely closed quay in Sédune and in downtown Lausanne to a post office that has been closed for many years. She is still tragically showing her torn tracks while her platform numbers Z1-Z4 are still dangling over the overhead wires.
Graubünden exemplary in combined transport?
At the gateway to Graubünden is the remarkable Landquart intermodal site, perhaps the largest of its kind in Europe, with caissons being transported by SBB standard gauge rails onto narrow gauge Viafer Retica (Rethic Railway) rails. .
Nearby, more precisely in Untervaz, served by the two railway tracks, an important industrial site already hosts several large railway customers, notably the Holcim cement plant, the Gevag waste incineration plant, the Griso quarry, the Heineken Calanda brewery depot…
And the mail? Its huge and brand new building of 170 meters long is right next to the rail. And who says train, in this case means three parallel goods lines, and that without passenger traffic, which could make operations more difficult. But unfortunately not the slightest trace of a platform.
On the other hand, La Poste managed to find space for 35 semi-trailers and 37 small trucks. The result of the races: Swiss Post is thus bringing additional trucks on the heavily congested Zurich-Chur motorway and additional trucks on the small mountain roads. A total of 100,000 parcels are on the road every day.
Ticino: railway junction without trains
If Untervaz is actually a high point for rail freight traffic in Graubünden (apart from La Poste), Cadenazzo is in Ticino with its new rail-road terminal and its large depots with operating rail lines (Planzer, Stisa, CFF-Cargo, etc.).
La Poste has just invested 60 million in a new sorting center there, but built off the tracks. On the other hand, the infrastructure includes 40 loading docks for small trucks and 35 for large vehicles, symbolically called Autotreno in Italian. A fun way to imagine combined transport…
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