Gotthard Base Tunnel

Gotthard Base Tunnel

The Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) is a railway tunnel under construction in Switzerland. With a planned length of 57 km (35 miles) and a total of 153.5 km (95 miles) of tunnels, shafts and passages planned, it will be the longest tunnel (of all railway and road tunnels) in the world upon completion, ahead of the current record holder, the Seikan Tunnel (connecting the Japanese islands of Honshū and Hokkaidō). The project is designed to feature two separate tunnels containing one track each. The tunnel is part of the Swiss AlpTransit project, also known as "New Railway Link through the Alps NRLA" which also includes the Lötschberg Base Tunnel between the cantons of Berne and Valais. Like the Lötschberg tunnel, it is intended to bypass winding mountain routes and establish a direct route suitable for high speed rail and heavy freight trains. On completion it is expected to decrease the current 3.5 hours travel time from Zürich to Milan by one hour. The two portals will be near the villages of Erstfeld, Canton Uri and Bodio, Canton Ticino.

Completion has been projected for 2015 but due to delays the tunnel may not be completed before 2018. [ [ BBC News - Swiss dig world's longest tunnel] ] Moreover, according to a TSR programme, "Temps Present" aired on 25 May 2007, rail links with the Italian network are far from assured, due to congestion from freight trains avoiding the Milanese conurbation to the detriment of passenger trains.

Nearby are two more St. Gotthard Tunnels: the 1881 Gotthard Rail Tunnel and the 1980 Gotthard Road Tunnel.


The route over Gotthard Pass or one of its tunnels is one of the most important passages through the Alps on the north-south axis in Europe. Traffic has increased more than tenfold since 1980 and the existing road and rail tunnels are at their limits. In order for a faster and flatter passage through the Swiss Alps, the Swiss voters have decided to build this tunnel cutting through the Gotthard massif at nearly ground level, 600 metres (≈1980 feet) below the existing railway tunnel. On the current track, the Gotthardbahn, only limited freight trains with a maximum weight of 2,000 tons using two or three locomotives are able to pass through the narrow mountain valleys and through spiral tunnels climbing up to the portals of the old tunnel at a height of 1,100 meters (≈3,600 feet) above sea level. Once the new tunnel is completed, standard freight trains of up to 4,000 tons will be able to pass this natural barrier as easily as if the Alps did not exist. Because of the ever increasing international truck traffic, the Swiss voted on February 20, 1994 for a shift in transportation policy ("Traffic Transfer Act", enacted on October 8, 1999). The goal of both the law (and the goal of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which is one of the means by which the law will achieve its objective), is to transport trucks, trailers and freight containers from southern Germany to northern Italy and vice versa by train to relieve the already overused roads (intermodal freight transport and so called rolling highway where the entire truck is being transported), and to meet the political requirement of shifting as much tonnage as possible from truck transport to train transport, as required by the 'Alpine Protection Act' of 1994.

Passenger trains, on the other hand, will be able to travel as fast as 250 km/h (155 mph) through the new tunnels, reducing travel times for trans-alpine train trips by 50 minutes – and by one hour once the adjacent Zimmerberg and Ceneri Base Tunnels are completed.


"AlpTransit Gotthard AG" is responsible for construction . It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB-CFF-FFS). To cut construction time in half, four access tunnels were built so that the construction of the tunnel can start at four (now five) different sites simultaneously (Erstfeld, Amsteg, Sedrun, Faido and Bodio).

A tunnel system with two single-track tunnels is being built. The two rail tunnels are joined approximately every 325 metres (≈1070 feet) by connecting galleries. Trains can change tunnels in the two multifunction stations (MFS) at Sedrun and Faido. These stations will house ventilation equipment and technical infrastructure, and will serve as emergency stops and evacuation routes upon tunnel completion.|
-|Access to the site where the Sedrun station is being excavated is quite difficult. The station is only reachable by a level access tunnel of 1 km from the valley floor near Sedrun, where at the end two shafts lead 800 m (≈2,600 ft) straight down to the base tunnel level. A project to construct a functioning railway station called Porta Alpina at this site was put on indefinite hold in September 2007.

Allocation of work

The contracts are being let in sections as follows:
* Erstfeld (section from Erstfeld to Amsteg) 7.7km – two TBMs started boring the two tubes
* Amsteg (section from Amsteg to north of Sedrun) 11.4km – work being carried out by ARGE AGN (Strabag and Züblin Murer) [ [ ARGE AGN website] ]
* Sedrun (section immediately north and south of Sedrun) 6.8km – working being carried out by Transco (Bilfinger Berger, Implenia, Frutiger and Pizzarotti) [ [ Transco website] ]
* Faido (section from south of Sedrun to Faido) 14.6km – work being carried out by Consorzio TAT (Alpine Mayreder Bau, CSC Impresa costruzioni, Hochtief and Implenia and Impregilo) [ Consorzio TAT website] ]
* Bodio (section from Faido to Bodio) 16.6km – work being carried out by Consorzio TAT (Alpine Mayreder Bau, CSC Impresa costruzioni, Hochtief, Implenia and Impregilo)

Facts and figures

*Length: 56.978 km (western tunnel) 57.091 km (eastern tunnel)
*Total length of all tunnels and shafts: 153.4 km

*Begin of construction: 1993 (sounding drills), 1996 (preparations), 2003 (mechanical excavation)
*End of construction: 2016–2017
*Commissioning: 2015
*Total cost: CHF 8.035 billion (US$6.428 billion)
*Trains/day: 200–250
*Volume of excavated rock: 24 million tons (13.3 million m³ or the equiv. of 5 Gizeh-pyramids)
*Number of tunnel boring machines (TBM): 4 (2 southbound from Amsteg to Sedrun, 2 northbound from Bodio to Faido and Sedrun, section from Erstfeld to Amsteg will also be built with TBM, maybe the same used for Amsteg-Sedrun)
**Total length: 440 m (incl. back-up equipment)
**Total weight: 3,000 tons
**Effect: 5 MWatt
**Max. excav. daily: 25–30 m (in excellent rock conditions)
**Total excav. length by TBM: about 45 km
**Manufacturer: Herrenknecht, Schwanau, Germany

{| class="wikitable"
-! Year ! Month ! Completed so far! % of the total 153.4 km
2004 || July ||align="right"|52.34 km ||align="right"| 34.1%
2005 || June ||align="right"|74.59 km ||align="right"| 48.6%
2006 || June ||align="right"| 94.10 km ||align="right"| 61.3%
2007 || June ||align="right"| 103.67 km ||align="right"| 67.6%
2008 || March ||align="right"| 108.02 km ||align="right"| 70.4%
2008 || April ||align="right"| 109 km ||align="right"| 71%
2008 || July ||align="right"| 113.2 km ||align="right"| 73.8%
2008 || August ||align="right"| 115.2 km ||align="right"| 75.1%


ee also

*Lötschberg Base Tunnel
*Treno Alta Velocità
*List of tunnels by length
*List of tunnels by location

External links

* [ Alptransit Gotthard AG – Official project site]
* [ PDF-File issued by Alptransit Gotthard AG describing the entire project]
* [ Atlas Copco – The Longest Tunnel in the World]
* [ Study on the optional Use of Jet Fans in the Gotthard Base Tunnel near the Portals to support the Emergency Ventilation]
* [ Brochure for the Porta Alpina project] (.pdf file, in German).
* [,1518,454843,00.html Overall project writeup, by SpiegelOnline, plus a proposed tourist elevator (Dec, 2006)]


*TSR [;vid=7857769 "Gotthard: From Dream to Nightmare"] "Temps Present" May 24 2007 - In French

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