The world’s longest train tunnel will open on Sunday 11 December 2016. Connecting the north and south of Switzerland and even Germany and Italy, the new 57km long Gotthard Base Tunnel has been in the making for the last 17 years, involving 2,600 workers from various countries.
The Alp Transit Gotthard Company, a Swiss Federal Railways subsidiary, launched this pioneering project in 1999 with a vision to significantly improve the connection between the German and Italian cantons of the country. This revolutionary flat track through the Alps will symbolize Swiss precision, technological innovation and railway reliability. It is already lauded as a masterpiece of engineering excellence, representing a key contribution to the future of public transport in Europe.
While the new state-of-the-art Gotthard Base Tunnel will no doubt further enhance Switzerland’s international acclaim as a public transport paradise, the existing tunnel’s remains guardian of its past. The historical Gotthard route dating back to 1882 will continue to contribute to travel and tourism in this Alpine region. Classic railway enthusiasts will still be able to travel on the existing Gotthard route that will operate parallel to the new Gotthard Base Tunnel. Trains will still ply their panoramic route over the countless bridges and through seven loop tunnels exposing passengers to jaw-dropping scenery.
Director of Switzerland Tourism, Mark Wettstein, says the new Gotthard tunnel will not only help travellers within Switzerland get between the north and south in a more effective and time efficient manner, cutting travel time by about 30mins between Basel or Zurich to Ticino, and 40 mins between Lucerne and Ticino, but also beyond the borders of the country, so they can spend more time discovering the places to which they are travelling. The current travel time between Zurich and Milan is four hours, but by 2020, this exact journey will take less than three hours.
“Indeed, this piece of Swiss engineering will yet again revolutionise the way commuters and travellers journey between the top and bottom ends of Switzerland and we are extremely excited with the prospect of increased visitors and rail travellers to and through Switzerland,” says Mark.
Agents are reminded that the Swiss Travel Pass provides users unlimited access to Switzerland’s public transportation including buses, trains and boats; up to 50% off mountain railways and cable cars; free access to more than 480 museums around the country; and free travel for children under 16 years when accompanied by a guardian using the Pass.