Swiss to fund Bavarian rail link to Alpine tunnel

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Munich (dpa) - Switzerland is to pay part of the costs of upgrading one of two German railway lines leading to the new Gotthard Base Tunnel under the Alps, Bavarian officials said Tuesday.

The tunnel is part of a rail project codenamed AlpTransit, aimed at ridding Swiss roads of heavy trucks hauling goods between Italy and northern Europe.

Bavaria's economy minister, Emilia Mueller, said Tuesday it was a national disgrace that the German federal government was financing less than half of the upgrading of the line from the border town of Lindau to Munich.

She said Bavaria would put up 55 million euros (81 million dollars) of the 205-million-euro government loan.

Munich aides said Berlin, which could only afford 100 million euros, had not yet decided whether it would accept the Swiss offer of 50 million euros.

Between 2010 and 2015 the line will be electrified, offering Italian freight trains a new route into central Europe. Currently the line is worked by diesel engines.

Switzerland's Gotthard Base Tunnel, now under construction, is to be the longest rail tunnel in the world at 57 kilometres. Another AlpTransit arm will connect to Stuttgart, Germany.

Mueller said Berlin was too short of money to contribute more. She hoped that allowing another country to help pay for a German railway remained a once-only exception.

"I'm glad the Swiss are so relaxed about it," she said of the Swiss offer, which arrived last year. DPA 2007

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