In a year’s time, the Gotthard base tunnel will be inaugurated. At 57 kilometres in length, it will be the world’s longest tunnel. Today in Lucerne, transport minister Doris Leuthard started the countdown to the ceremony. On 1 June 2016, the official state occasion will take place, and the following weekend, a large-scale celebration will be held to thank the public.
In the presence of SBB and AlpTransit Gotthard CEOs, Andreas Meyer and Renzo Simoni, and representatives of the governments of the cantons of Uri and Ticino, Doris Leuthard started the countdown clock for the opening of the Gotthard base tunnel. The logo for the festivities , which will carry the motto ’Gottardo 2016’, was also unveiled. The logo will be displayed on one passenger and one freight locomotive and will be seen throughout Switzerland and neighbouring countries in the run-up to the opening of the tunnel. The two locomotives have been named after the towns at each end of the tunnel: Erstfeld and Biasca. They were christened by Heidi Z’Graggen, President of Uri Cantonal Council, and by Claudio Zali, member of the Ticino Cantonal Council.
Work still to be done
In her speech, transport minister Doris Leuthard referred to the fact that the Gotthard base tunnel is a visible symbol of Switzerland’s innovative ability, precision and reliability. She said that Switzerland should be proud of this immense project. However, there is still plenty of work to be done before the tunnel can enter into operation.
Renzo Simoni, CEO of AlpTransit Gotthard, emphasised that the work was still on track. The final rail components will be fitted by October of this year when testing will begin. Over 3000 test runs will be conducted to ensure that the base tunnel can operate safely and smoothly.
The SBB has been making the necessary preparations to assume its role as tunnel operator for some time. On 1 June 2016, it will take over the Gotthard base tunnel from AlpTransit Gotthard AG. After several months of trial operation, it will bring the tunnel into scheduled operation on 11 December 2016. From then on, customers will benefit from increased capacity and improved services in goods transport and a gradual reduction in journey times.
Regular events will be held as part of the Gottardo 2016 campaign in the run-up to the official opening.
The official state occasion to mark the opening of the tunnel will take place on 1 June 2016. Guests at either end of the tunnel will be able to see two trains set off on their maiden journeys from the north and the south. Members of the public will have the chance to travel on the two trains, as a gesture of gratitude to the Swiss people. It is thanks to their votes at the ballot box that the construction and financing of the Gotthard base tunnel as part of the New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA) was possible. A draw will be held in January 2016 to allocate seats on the trains.
The focus will also be on the Swiss people at public events on 4 and 5 June. On these two days, it will be possible for the general public to travel through the new tunnel for the first time. A programme of interesting supporting events will take place in Erstfeld and in the Pollegio/Biasca area. Ticket sales will begin online in April 2016 at www.gottardo2016.ch and at other sales points.
Note for editorial staff:Pictures of the two locomotives are available from www.gottardo2016.ch. The Gottardo 2016 logo can also be downloaded in a resolution suitable for printing.