Rolling highway

Rolling highway

A rolling highway (originating from the German designation "Rollende Autobahn", also known as "Rollende Landstrasse"/"rolling country road" or abbreviated "RoLa") is a combined transport system to transport trucks by rail. For this purpose, special close coupled flatcars with small wheel diameters (380/360/335 mm) are used which provide a driveable track along the entire train. The truck drivers are accommodated in a passenger car with seats or beds. At both ends of the rail link there are purpose-built terminals which allow the train to be easily loaded and unloaded.


A rolling highway has both ecological and economical advantages: The freight forwarder saves fuel, toll, time losses due to traffic jams and vehicle operating hours, and the drivers can sleep in order to fulfill rest period regulations without interrupting the journey. Additionally, in some cases night driving or weekend driving prohibitions are not in effect for trucks coming from or going to end-points of rolling highways.


The freight forwarders criticise, apart from the cost, the dependency on timetables and the long times needed for loading and unloading. Another aspect is that a lot of dead weight is carried along, because the entire truck is transported and not just its cargo. However, this is counteracted by the fact that a train has much lower rolling resistance than a truck. An intermediate solution is intermodal freight transport, where only semitrailers are put on the train and not the tractor itself.

Examples of rolling highways

Rolling highways are mostly used for transit routes, e.g. through the alps or from western to eastern Europe.


In Austria, rolling highways exist from Bayern via Tirol to Italy or to Eastern Europe. Traditionally, Austria is a transit country and therefore the rolling highway is of environmental importance. In 1999, the ÖBB carried 254.000 trucks, which equals 8.5 million tons of freight (158.989 trucks in 1993).There is a direct rolling highway between Salzburg and the harbor of Triest, where the trucks arrive on ferries from Turkey. In those cases, drivers arrive by plane via Ljubljana airport, to take over the truck.


In Switzerland, rolling highways across the alps exist for both the Gotthard and Lötschberg - Simplon route. They are operated by Hupac AG, headquartered in Chiasso, and in the case of the Novara - Freiburg im Breisgau route by RAlpin AG headquartered in Olten.

In 2004, a total of 330.929 trucks (or 5.5 million tons of freight) were transported through the alps.

External links

* [ Ökombi GmbH]
* [ Hupac AG]
* [ Lorry Rail: Bettemburg (Luxembourg) – Perpignan (Southern France)]

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