Ceneri Base Tunnel: Breakthrough in the west tube between Sigirino and Vezia

After one final blast, at exactly 12:00 noon today, Tuesday, March 17, 2015, the miners in the Ceneri Base Tunnel could shake hands. Thirteen months ahead of schedule, the first breakthrough to the south took place in the west tube of the Ceneri Base Tunnel. The final breakthrough to the north is planned for the beginning of 2016. The Ceneri Base Tunnel will become operational at the end of 2019.

In his address, Renzo Simoni, Chief Executive Officer of AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd, spoke of his great pleasure at the efficient progress on construction and expressed his thanks to everyone involved, especially the miners. "This first breakthrough in the Ceneri Base Tunnel is a further important milestone in the construction of the New Rail Link through the Alps. Only with the 15.4-kilometres-long base tunnel under Monte Ceneri will the continuous flat route from Altdorf to Lugano become reality."

Masterly measurement performance

Around 400 metres away from the south portal at Vezia, in the presence of the Director of Construction of the Canton of Ticino, Claudio Zali, more than 600 miners and project participants followed the first breakthrough of the Ceneri Base Tunnel. In the southbound west tube, breakthrough took place with great accuracy: at two centimetres horizontally and one centimetre vertically, the deviation was extremely small.

Breakthrough in the southbound east tube is scheduled for the end of March 2015. Driving in the northbound tubes is still progressing at full speed. Until the breakthrough point at Vigana, the distance remaining to be excavated in the west tube is around 1,500 metres and in the east tube around 2,000 metres. All being well, final breakthrough of the Ceneri Base Tunnel will take place at the beginning of 2016. And according to Renzo Simoni, there is no change in the previously planned date for opening of the Ceneri Base Tunnel in December 2019: "AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd has every intention of achieving this goal."