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Rolling highway on the southern Lötschberg ramp, pulled by two BLS Re 465
ÖBB class 1044 banking a Rolling highway on the Tauern Railway in Spittal-Millstättersee

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 or piggy-back, where only semi-trailers 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 Tyrol 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 harbour of Trieste, where the trucks arrive on ferries from Turkey. In those cases, drivers arrive by plane via Ljubljana airport, to take over the truck.

Republic of India

In 1999, the Konkan Railway Corporation introduced the Roll On Roll Off (RORO) service, a unique road-rail synergy system, on the section between Kolad in Maharashtra and Verna in Goa,[1] which was extended up to Surathkal in Karnataka in 2004.[2][3] The RORO service, the first of its kind in India, allowed trucks to be transported on flatbed trailers. It was highly popular,[4] carrying about 110,000 trucks and bringing in about Rs.74 crore worth of earnings to the corporation till 2007.[5]


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.


  1. ^ "ROAD-RAIL SYNERGY SYSTEM". Press release, Press Information Bureau, dated 2004-20-05. Retrieved 2008-12-22.  
  2. ^ "New Konkan Rly service begins". Online edition of the Business Standard, dated 2004-06-16. Retrieved 2008-12-22.  
  3. ^ "RORO service again on Konkan Railway". Online edition of The Hindu Business Line, dated 2004-06-11. Retrieved 2008-12-22.  
  4. ^ S. Vydhianathan. "Convergence on the Konkan Railway". Online edition of The Hindu, dated 2003-14-11. Retrieved 2008-12-22.  
  5. ^ "ROLL ON- ROLL OFF (RORO) SERVICE ON KONKAN RAILWAY". Official webpage of the Konkan Railway Corporation. Retrieved 2008-12-22.  

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