The longest and deepest railway tunnel in the world is opened

A premiere, on which was worked almost endless long way: The longest and deepest rail tunnel in the world is opened. Around 300 trains a day pass through now the Swiss Alps in record time: for 57 km, it need only 17 minutes.

Sunday morning, 6:09. A historic moment. From Zurich Hauptbahnhof rolled the first passenger train direction Gotthard Base Tunnel , which crosses the Swiss Alps – between the German-speaking canton of Uri and the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino. “We have trained long and are pleased that it is now finally starting,” said Andreas Meyer, head of the Swiss railway operator SBB. 17 years of construction and several months of testing with 5,000 tests were needed to get to this point.

Gotthard rail tunnel

About 17 minutes was all the extra long train, laden with special guests and regular passengers to pass through the 57 km long Alpine tunnels with 200 km / h. For Meyer, it was “a day like Christmas.” At 08:17 the train arrived in Lugano.

Panne on the first day: train remains in the Gotthard Tunnel stuck

But on the first day there was a breakdown: A freight train had a technical failure and remained in the tunnel stuck. Towing the locomotive caused two hours of delays. In normal operation, 260 freight trains and 50 passenger trains will run daily through the two parallel tubes of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which is not only the longest, but also the deepest tunnel in the world – with the world’s highest overburden: At St. Gotthard massif are 2,300 m stone over the tubes.

gotthard tunnel

The advantage: The eleven billion euro tunnel runs almost no slope. Thanks to the flat track, the trains can not only go faster, but also invite more: Freight trains with 4000 t total weight traverse since Sunday the Alpine tunnels – in the old Gotthard route was because of their approximately 600 m higher apex even with two locomotives at 1400 t final. Transport volumes will thus double to nearly 40 million tonnes per year.

Gotthard tunnel engineering feat

The construction of the Gotthard tunnel began in 1999 with the first explosions at both ends of the tunnel route. From 2003, then 400 m long tunnel boring machine from the German manufacturer Herrenknecht devoured by the mountain. The giant drill bits – 9.43 m in diameter and 225 tons in weight – rotating at 6 U / min and created a day for a distance of 38 m.


24 million tons of overburden later succeeded on 15 October 2010 the breakthrough. of a demonstration of the precision of modern tunneling was. Both TBMs had deviated from the axis by only 4 mm and vertically by 8 mm. A masterpiece of engineering.