As regards the Alpine regions, the special landscape conditions distinguish this region from others. The various natural barriers lead to specific small scale differences in accessibility. The environmental resources emphasize the external effects of transport infrastructure more than in other regions. What is needed are small-scale solutions and low-traffic regional planning policies. In this light, the findings for the Alpine regions can be summarised as follows:
- As regards accessibility the Alpine regions in general benefit from their location in the centre of Europe. The European Transport Policy will not change this situation in the next two decades fundamentally.
- Within the Alpine region wide disparities do exist. In the next decades, the fundamental regional distribution of accessibility will remain, but few nodal areas will benefit by the development of high speed rail systems in a significant way.
- The next phase of infrastructure and transport cost development will favour the nodal areas and strengthen the regions with already existing high accessibility. Only few Alpine regions will profit from this development.
- Against this background most, of the supra regional Trans European Network / EU Transport Infrastructure Needs Assessment (1, 8)-projects are not a matter of priority for the Alpine regions as regards regional development. The emphasis should be put on the inner regional connections, feeder systems or links to the nodal points and the development of the existing infrastructure in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.
- On the local level more and stronger regulatory instruments of spatial and regional planning are needed for the guidance of the interrelation between transport system and spatial structure in a targeted way (for example prevention of shopping centres, sprawl, new settlements without public transport).
- For peripheral regions simply expanding transport connections can aggravate the problems due to increased competition with strong regions. This is why it is important to learn from those regions which enjoy a positive regional economical development in spite of an unfavourable accessibility.
- Regional development depends less on supranational projects than on inner regional transport solutions and regional planning policies which contribute towards ensuring that jobs, shopping, leisure and cultural facilities and utilities are accessible even in peripheral regions.
Politicians and planners need a better set of policy instruments for transport and regional planning to put paid to uncontrolled development and the indiscriminate construction of shopping malls in open countryside.
- In this context transport and spatial policies in the Alps should focus on the distributional effects and the external costs of the transport system, reorganisation of public services to ensure just and reasonable accessibility.
How can we respond to the killer argument "Improvement of the regional performance by infrastructure development to survive in global competition of location"?
In terms of accessibility, there are wide disparities in the Alpine arc. In Switzerland, there is generally an excellent public transporation system, from which also tourism benefits widely (Source: L. ULRICH).
In the light of the recent theoretical and empirical findings a case by case assessment is needed. Demanding for answers to the following questions is recommended:
- Is there a need for existing companies for new infrastructure projects?
- Might the new infrastructure lead to growing competition for the local companies? Is it possible, that existing small companies will be eliminated by more competition and that in consequence workplaces or services will decrease or not be provided in the region anymore?
- Is the new infrastructure able to attract new companies? Are there any studies, which can prove this? What are the experiences in comparable regions, which are endowed with such an infrastructure already?
- What are the opportunity costs of the infrastructure investment? How would the locals spend the money, if they could decide on it? Are the better options to spend such an amount of money?