Gotthard Base Tunnel to be operational from 2016

The Federal Office of Transport (FOT), AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd (ATG), and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB AG) will do everything possible to make the Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) operational from December 2016. All work in the GBT and on the approach lines will be in support of this goal.

ATG as constructor of the Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) as future operator have coordinated their timetables. They plan to start scheduled train services through the GBT from the end of 2016. Together with FOT as orderer and supervisory authority, a detailed analysis was performed of the advantages and disadvantages that making the GBT operational one year earlier than planned in 2016 would bring. Based on this analysis, FOT regards the start of scheduled train services through the GBT from the end of 2016 as realistic, feasible and appropriate. There are no currently apparent problems that would preclude going into operation at the end of 2016.

By going into operation in 2016 with a still to be defined offering of scheduled train services, benefits from use of the flat route through the GBT will be generated already one year earlier than planned to date. Specific benefits are as follows:

  • shorter journey times in passenger services between German-speaking Switzerland and the Ticino and Italy;
  • increased productivity in goods traffic; and, as a result,
  • a contribution to transferring trans-Alpine goods traffic from road to rail.

Besides these benefits there will be additional operating costs that occur one year earlier. The earlier start of operations also means that time reserves are eliminated and the work of the various parties involved must be coordinated even more precisely. This increases the demands on the project management.

Within the framework of periodic progress reviews, FOT, ATG and SBB will jointly undertake an integral risk analysis of the entire north-south axis through the Gotthard.

Train service offerings from 2016 still to be defined
The extent of the train services for passengers and freight to be offered from December 2016 must still be defined. The date from which the currently planned maximum of seven trains per hour and direction can travel through the GBT depends on completion of the Ceneri Base Tunnel and the status of expansion of the approach lines north and south of the Gotthard. The specific timetable offering will be determined two years ahead of the start of operations as part of the normal two-year timetable planning in 2014. Final confirmation of the starting date for operations will only be possible at that stage.

With the decision by everyone involved to aim for operations to begin at the end of 2016, this construction project of the century enters a crucial phase.

For further information: Federal Office of Transport, Information, 031 322 36 43,