Tuesday 7 June 2016
Railway Infrastructure

The world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel officially inaugurated in Switzerland

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On 1 June 2016, after 17 years of work, Switzerland officially inaugurated the Gotthard Base Railway Tunnel, the world’s longest (57 km) and deepest tunnel. The celebration was marked by the presence of Mr Johann Schneider-Ammann, President of the Swiss Confederation, European leaders, including the President of the French Republic Mr François Hollande, the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Mrs Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Austria Mr Christian Kern, and Prime Minister of Italy Mr Matteo Renzi, who stressed the importance of this tunnel for the European economy. Many transport stakeholders were also present alongside the CEO of Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), Mr Andreas Meyer and many other leaders of the railway world. UIC was represented by Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, Director General.

A lavish show was held for the occasion with several hundred performers on both sides of the mountain. Acrobats, musicians, alpine horn players, the army band and the region’s choirs took part in the opening celebration.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest railway tunnel in the world and represents the centrepiece of the New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA). It embodies Swiss values such as innovation, precision and reliability. The Gotthard Base Tunnel provides a quicker, more reliable link between north and south for both people and goods. SBB is proud to be operating the longest railway tunnel in the world.
Faster, more frequent and more convenient services as well as new and modernised rolling stock will considerably increase the transport quality on the north-south axis. Customers will also benefit from more seats. The improvements will take effect gradually from the end of 2016 and provide their full benefit from the end of 2020. At the same time, SBB will actively market the Gotthard region and the mountain route. In total, SBB expects demand for passenger services to almost double by 2025, with passenger numbers increasing from the current figure of 9,000 people to approximately 15,000 people per day. More new trains will be provided in order to meet this increase in passenger demand.

When it comes to freight traffic, the new Gotthard tunnel will bring increased capacity, faster services and greater reliability. SBB Cargo customers will receive efficient, congestion-free and environmentally-friendly solutions for their logistics requirements.

For international transit traffic, the new Gotthard Base Tunnel marks the first major step towards a flat-rail route through the Alps. With the Ceneri Base Tunnel and the four-metre corridor, rail will become significantly more competitive on the north-south axis.

2 Multifunction stations with water points for fire-fighting and rescue trains
4 Emergency stop stations, two per tunnel tube
13 Kilometres of new overground line
20 A journey through the Gotthard Base Tunnel by passenger train takes less than 20 minutes
43 Points
50 Passenger trains travel through the tunnel each day
57 Kilometres is the length of the two parallel tunnel tubes
153 Kilometres of contact line
178 Cross-passages provide a safe space and a connection to the parallel tunnel tube every 325 metres
308 Kilometres of track
360 Axle counters
500 Kilometres of drainpipes
900 ETCS beacons
7200 Lights
1900 Electrical cabinets

(Source: SBB)

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President of the Swiss Confederation opening the Gotthard Tunnel
03. Intercity tilt train on the Gotthard line through the countryside © SBB