Placement of a boulder of Erstfeld gneiss weighing more than four tonnes by the future north portal at Erstfeld marked the start of work on the last section of the Gotthard Base Tunnel on July 19, 2004. The section consists of two 7.2 km long single-track tunnels. Driving will begin at the end of 2006.
Peter Zbinden, CEO of The AlpTransit Gotthard Company, emphasized that placement of the boulder has a symbolic significance. It represents the foundation for good collaboration between all the partners involved in the project. Josef Arnold, Chairman of the Canton of Uri Executive Council, expressed his conviction that the NRLA - the construction project of the century - will benefit the economy and people of Uri with important impulses and increased employment. The boulder is also a symbol of energy and optimism. The challenges must be tackled in a spirit of cooperation.
Work will now start at Erstfeld on preparations for the installations site. Subsequently, a temporary diversion of the Gotthard road parallel to the Walenbrunnen stream and a railway siding linking the construction site to the main Swiss Federal Railways line will be built. The award of contracts for work on Lot 151 at Erstfeld is expected to take place in summer 2005. The contracts will be for construction of two parallel single-track tunnels with a total length of 7.2 km and an underground branch-off for the future under-the-mountain variant. The actual driving work is planned to start at the end of 2006.