Milestone under the Gotthard: Since October 1, 2015, the test operation phase in the Gotthard Base Tunnel has been in full swing. The first test runs have already been successfully performed. Until May 31, 2016, around 5,000 test runs are planned, with trains travelling at up to 275 kilometres per hour through the world's longest tunnel.
Following receipt of the release by the Swiss Federal Office of Transport, test operation started on schedule on October 1, 2015. Already soon after, the first test runs with the new train control system, ETCS Level 2, took place.
Tests are now being performed with the Swiss Federal Railways (SFR) wireless measurement car of the GSM-R digital wireless communication system and the tunnel radio system. These will be followed by testing of the interplay between the track, rolling stock and overhead conductor. For November and December 2015, the incremental speed tests are scheduled. During these, the travel speeds in the world's longest railway tunnel will be steadily increased up to a maximum of 275 km/h. For the tests, a special Type ICE-S train will be rented from Germany. When these are complete, from the end of February 2016, test runs with goods trains will be performed.
Up to the end of May, 2016, around 5,000 test runs are planned. A total of 160 people will be operationally involved, from test-train driver through test-run supervisor and traffic manager to head of safety. Three hundred further participants will include, for example, test leaders, measurement engineers and test assistants. The test operation phase is being conducted under the leadership of AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd. The necessary train staff and rolling stock have been rented by AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd from Swiss Federal Railways.
According to ATG CEO Renzo Simoni, in the eight-months testing phase, AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd, as constructor of the tunnel, must thoroughly test the interplay of all tunnel components: "We must prove the functionality and fulfilment of the safety requirements in the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Only when this has been done, can we hand over to the Swiss government and Swiss Federal Railways, at the opening festivities on June 1, 2016, a tunnel that is ready for operation." From June 2016, under the leadership of SFR, the trials phase will take place, before the tunnel goes into operation with scheduled trains in December 2016.
Latest information on the planned test runs