Political Framework in the Alps


Transport Infrastructure Policies

Mobility management is a key issue for the policy landscape Alps (Source: CIPRA).
Transport infrastructure policies exist on European (TEN network), national and regional level. For the accessibility of remote mountain areas within the Alps especially the state of the local roads and the local public transport systems is important. Generally speaking, transport infrastructure policies on national and regional level tend to focus on road investment while public transport is often neglected, especially in remote areas (See also T7 Mobility Management).

By contrast, Switzerland is presently undertaking vast investment in railway infrastructure ("Rail 2000") and has already achieved a considerable shift of freight traffic from road to rail – also as a result of perceptible road charges. Nevertheless, big rail tunnel projects like the planned Brenner Basistunnel are to be judged critically. A releasing effect on polluting roads is doubtable, and the long-term financial burden may restrain other necessary public transport investment.
Further Readings & Links

A short document about the ongoing development of the Swiss railway system.

Assessment of Environmental Effects

Public policies also have to tackle the negative environmental effects of traffic which are – due to the physical conditions of Alpine valleys – often a bigger problem in mountain areas than elsewhere. There is an obligation to submit big infrastructure projects to an Environmental Impact Assessment. The Transport Protocol of the Alpine Convention aims at the environmental protection of sensitive areas and encourages alternatives to road transport.

Best Practice: Schiestlhaus, Styria, Austria

Spoilt by the Sun – the Self-Heating Refuge

Source: Wolfert & Rezac
What started out as a term paper by Marie Rezac at Vienna's Technical University/A marked the beginning of an ambitious project which culminated in the world's first ever refuge built on the summit plateau using the "passive house" construction method. The technology used in the 70-bed refuge is both sophisticated and simple. Due to its south-facing orientation, 60% of the electricity is generated using solar energy. With extreme insulation and the use of an air intake and ventilation system with heat recovery, passive houses achieve heating requirements of 15 kW/h per mē per year, a fraction of what conventional houses require.

The design, developed further by the architecture firm of Treberspurg & Partner Architekten and pos architekten ready for building, perfectly suited the "Sustainable Economic Management" programme of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology, which according to the Vienna daily Standard "is the subject of much interest beyond the scope of the EU". One of the programme's mainstays is the "House of the Future". The aim is to harness the economy as a motor for sustainable and ecological building. Planning and constructing innovative buildings should result in trend-setting measures for a sustainable economic approach in Austria.

The Schiestlhaus, which was subsidised with "House of the Future" funds, thus became not just the first passive refuge, but also the prototype of a successful exchange and interplay between numerous partners in administration and economy. CORDIS, the EU Community Research and Development Information Service, believes that "with a few modifications the solutions and findings can be applied to all moderate Alpine environments".
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A short document about the Schiestlhaus, a Alpine Refuge that uses the passive house technology.