Successful Breakthrough: Federal Councillor Leuenberger Congratulates

Just before 12 noon today, the tunnel boring machine Gabi 1 broke through the last metres of rock between Erstfeld and Amsteg. By covering a distance of 7.2 kilometres in only 18 months the machine arrived in Amsteg half a year earlier than planned. At the construction site, Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger congratulated the tunnel constructors on this outstanding achievement.

In his speech, Federal Councillor Leuenberger showed that he was highly impressed by the efficient progress on construction, and expressed his thanks to everyone involved, especially the tunnellers. With the construction of the NRLA, Switzerland can prove to Europe that it belongs to Europe, because Switzerland is building the longest railway tunnel in the world for Europe with Europeans. Not only is the NRLA central to the Swiss policy of transferring traffic from road to rail, Europe also admires Switzerland for expanding its railway infrastructure so uncompromisingly, said Leuenberger.

Renzo Simoni, CEO of AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd, expressed great delight at the breakthrough. "The breakthrough is a further important milestone in the construction of the Gotthard Base Tunnel", said Simoni.

With a ceremony on December 4, 2007, the tunnel boring machine started driving southwards from Erstfeld. Eighteen months later, and half a year earlier than planned, the tunnel boring machine reached its destination at Amsteg. Breakthrough of the tunnel was achieved with great accuracy, the deviation of 4 mm horizontally and 8 mm vertically was minimal.

AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd is very satisfied with the achievements on the construction of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. With the breakthrough between Erstfeld und Amsteg, the second-to-last of the total of five sections celebrated its breakthrough. Of the 153.5 km of the tunnel system under the Gotthard, 133 km or 87 percent have now been excavated. According to the construction programme, the final breakthrough between Sedrun and Faido will take place at the beginning of 2011.

The celebrations in the tunnel were broadcast live on Swiss television. The general public have the opportunity to view work on the Gotthard Base Tunnel on site at the Construction Site Open Day in Sedrun on Saturday, June 20, 2009.