The Swiss Federal Office of Transport (FOT), Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) and the Canton of Uri have run the first official freight train though the recently inaugurated Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel. During this testing phase, some freight trains will already start regular commercial operations this summer. In early September, the majority of freight traffic will will be diverted though the 57 km long rail tunnel and rail customers will experience full benefits of this new connection with the next planned timetable change.
Gotthard Base Tunnel will allow the transit of longer and heavier trains and will create additional capacity for rail freight traffic: by the end of 2020 on the north-south axis could run up to 260 freight trains a day, compared to 180 trains currently ( +44 percent). The preconditions for this increase are also the commissioning of the Ceneri Base Tunnel and 4 meters corridor planned for the end of 2020. ” We have created a complete flat network”, said Andreas Meyer, CEO of SBB. “Rail freight will be more efficient and environmentally friendly”, he added.
Transport companies will gain in productivity through shorter journey times and the operation of longer, heavier trains. It will be possible to reduce the number of locomotives per train, which will reduce energy consumption. In addition, transportation delays will be cut down. Transportation will be safer and more punctual, since natural hazards will not impact the tunnel route.
“The goal has not been reached yet, but we have taken a big step forward,” said Dr. Peter Füglistaler, FOT Director at the launch of the first official freight train in Flüelen. “The NRLA (New Railway Link through the Alps) creates the preconditions for shifting transalpine freight traffic from road to rail.” Considerable efforts have been made to increase the efficiency of operations all along the Rhine-Alpes corridor. In addition, the federal government has promoted this modal shift with additional measures.