swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

swissworld.org - Switzerland's official information portal

Your Gateway to Switzerland

Transport

Cruising down the Rhine in Canton Thurgau (in new window)

Cruising down the Rhine in Canton Thurgau© swissworld.org

Aerial view of one of Basel's Rhine ports (in new window)

The Rhine gives Switzerland free access to the high seas. Basel is therefore a major trans-shipment centre. It has four ports, all of which are closely integrated into the European road and rail network.© Comet Photoshopping GmbH, Zürich

The Rhine, which rises in the Swiss Alps, forms most of the border with Germany, but is regarded as navigable only from Basel to the North Sea.

Basel is therefore a major trans-shipment centre, where cargo is transferred between river vessels and other forms of transport. It has four ports, all of which are closely integrated into the European road and rail systems.

These ports handle about 15% of Switzerland's foreign trade - some 9 million tonnes annually.

The major items coming in by river are bulk cargo: liquid and solid fuels, metals and machines, grain and animal feeds. Outgoing cargo is mainly metals, machines and equipment and chemical products.

The transport network

Switzerland's waterways are also part of the transport network, with lake and river boats carrying more than 13.4 million passengers in 2006 - a record. The busiest areas are Lakes Lucerne and Zürich.