When it opens the 57 km long Gotthard Base Tunnel between Erstfeld in the Canton of Uri and Bodio in Ticino will be the world’s longest rail tunnel. Its two single-track tunnel bores are linked with one another at 325 m intervals by 40 m long cross-passages; in addition it possesses two Multi-Function Stations (MFS) for emergency halts and switching tracks at third points along the tunnel. The tunnel represents the core of a new rail connection through the Swiss Alps resulting in cuts in travelling time for passenger services, an increase in efficiency for goods traffic and contributing towards relocating goods transportation crossing the Alps from road to rail.
The breakthrough in the western bore at the end of March 2011 heralded in the completion of the two bores thus signalling the end to excavation work (85 km of tunnel bores driven by mechanized means). At present, the rail engineering work is being carried out.
In the Gotthard Base Tunnel’s western bore between the south portal at Bodio and the Faido MFS trial services were inaugurated in the presence of federal councillor Doris Leuthard on December 16, 2013 after the complete installation of the rail technology. For the first time a train travelled along the 13 km long test section from Bodio to Faido at a speed of 160 km/h. Trials will be undertaken on some 100 days up until June 2014. The objective of these trial services is to confirm that the complete tunnel system complies with the demands that are posed. The complex interplay of track, performance, power supply, tunnel control technology and communications has to be tested. Towards this end, the trial route will be tackled at speeds of up to a maximum of 220 km/h. These trial services are being held under the auspices of the AlpTransit Gotthard AG, which has leased the required number of train drivers and rolling stock from the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). The rail engineering work on the other sections of the Gotthard Base Tunnel will continue parallel to these trials. The opening ceremony for the Gotthard Base Tunnel will take place on the weekend of June 4 and 5, 2016. In December of 2016 the tunnel will be put into operation.⇥G.B.