Inauguration of the Gotthard base tunnel

The Gotthard base tunnel will be officially opened on 1 June 2016. This event will not only mark the completion of a long and complex and feat of engineering, it represents a milestone in Swiss transport policy and is of significance for the whole of Europe.

Speeches and press release


In a popular vote on 27 September 1992, the Swiss electorate approved the Federal Decree on the Construction of the New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA). This would pave the way for an Alpine transport policy favouring rail over road traffic.

The NRLA, involving the construction of three tunnels through the Alps, is well under way; the Lötschberg tunnel (34.6 km) was opened in 2007, and the opening of the Gotthard tunnel (57 km) is set for 1 June 2016. The final tunnel in the trio is the Ceneri base tunnel (15.4 km), due to be opened in 2020.

The impact of the new rail link

The construction of the NRLA is a major and crucial undertaking, both for Switzerland and the whole of Europe. Once the new tunnel is in operation, it will be possible to transport greater quantities of goods through the Alps faster and using fewer engines, thanks to the tunnel’s advanced technical features and lack of inclines, permitting heavier and longer trains.

Rail passengers will also benefit from the new tunnels; once the work is completed, the travel time between north to south will be reduced by about one hour.

The current rail tunnel will continue to be used for local connections and tourist purposes.

The project in figures

  • 57: length in kilometres of the new tunnel, which is the longest in the world
  • 2,300m: depth in metres of the rock separating the tunnel from the surface in some places. The tunnel is therefore also the deepest in the world
  • 28.2: amount of excavated material in millions of tonnes
  • 17: number of years it has taken to construct the Gotthard tunnel
  • 250 and 160: maximum speed in kilometres per hour at which passenger trains and freight trains respectively will be able to travel
  • 20: number of minutes taken for a passenger train to pass through the tunnel
  • 45: number of minutes rail passengers will save on the Zurich-Milan route
  • 210,000: estimated number of lorries that can be transferred from road to rail on Alpine routes by 2020
  • 12,2: amount in billions of Swiss francs required to construct the Gotthard base tunnel (effective total costs)
  • 23: total cost in billions of Swiss francs of the New Rail Link through the Alps (Lötschberg, Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels)
  • 11.12.2016: date on which the Gotthard base tunnel will begin operation

Further information

Last modification 07.02.2018

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