Federal Councillor Leuthard presents the Gotthard Base Tunnel at Expo Milan

Bern, 08.06.2015 - Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard took the opportunity of the Swiss day of transport and energy at Expo Milan to talk about the opening of the Gotthard base tunnel (GBT). In her speech she emphasised the importance of the tunnel for Switzerland and for Europe and the fact that it will reinforce the north-south corridor for rail transport. Visitors to the world fair have the chance to view the GBT exhibit in the Swiss pavilion and to find out more about the construction project of the century, which will be formally opened on 1 June 2016.

Following the beginning of the countdown to the opening of the Gotthard base tunnel a week ago in Lucerne, Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard gave the international starting signal today at the Expo in Milan. She started a counter on the GBT exhibit which shows the time remaining until the opening. The Gotthard base tunnel, which will be officially opened on 1 June 2016, is 57 kilometres in length and takes over from the Seikan tunnel in Japan as the world’s longest rail tunnel. In her speech, Doris Leuthard explained that the GBT will benefit not only our own but also future generations and emphasised that the tunnel will be of great importance for Switzerland and for Europe.

The GBT will reinforce the Rhine-Alpine rail freight corridor, one of Europe’s most important north-south connections. Shorter journey times will bring the different areas of Switzerland and also Germany and Italy closer together. The new level route will modernise rail transport in the area. The trains will no longer have to climb steep inclines. In addition, the current mountain route is around 30 kilometres longer than the GBT. In future, up to 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains a day will be able to pass through the tunnel.

In the light of the major international importance of the GBT, Switzerland will be inviting prominent members of the governments of neighbouring countries, important EU representatives and other guests of state to the opening celebrations in a year’s time.

During her visit to the GBT exhibit, Doris Leuthard was accompanied by around 25 young people from the Alpine countries who were visiting the Expo as part of a project run by CIPRA, the international Alpine protection organisation.

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