The Gotthard Base Tunnel, the longest train tunnel in the world, will enter into service on December 11, 2016. The 35.4-mile tunnel is at the heart of the New Trans-Alpine Railway Link (NRLA) project with the aim of improving the north-south rail link through the Alps.
Base tunnels enable shorter and flatter rail routes so that trains can travel at higher speeds and pull more weight. The system of two one-way tubes, linked by emergency escape routes every 1,066-ft., will enable patrons to travel from Zurich to Milan in two hours and 50 minutes, shaving almost an hour off the current travel time.
The handover of the train tunnel by constructor AlpTransit Gotthard AG to its future operators, Swiss Federal Railways SBB, will take place in about two months’ time, on June 1, 2016, after 17 years of construction.
Before regular operations of the Gotthard Base Tunnel begin in December, SBB is providing customers with the opportunity to tour the interior of the tunnel. From August 2 to November 27, 2016, the special “Gottardino” train will transport visitors to a record depth in the rock of the Swiss Alps.
The tour will include a stop at the multifunction station in Sedrun, approximately 2,625-ft. below the surface.
Once trains begin traveling at high speed through the tunnel in December, a stop will no longer be possible.