Just as a point of possible interest, my Company (Balfour Beatty), is part of the Transtec Gotthard Consortium building this new tunnel. I've been involved in several tunnel projects myself over the years though nothing on this scale. My largest was a 5.5 Km x 7 m dia. hydro-electric tunnel in Sri Lanka. It was a fascinating project though as it diverted one river through a mountain and into another river to provide the necessary head of water to drive the turbines.
Thanks David, it's nice to see further progress. Amazing to think that it will take six years to fit out the tunnel from 2010-2016. I like the pictures taken in the space between the cutting face and the rockface when the engineers have to repair the cutting blades, but not a good place to be when they switch it back on and it crawls forward millimetre by millimetre...
It's amusing that although the Swiss are proud of it and are keen to visit the construction site on open days they're not actually building it themselves!
Construction is soon to start on the main tunnels of the Italy/Austria Brenner Base Tunnel (55 km, a bit shorter than the Gotthard) so it looks like the tunnel industry will be busy for many years to come!
Switzerland's transport minister is stepping down after 15 years in office. During this time he has been responsible for getting the Gotthard basis tunnel project off (? under) the ground through four referendums. During his time in office 115 road and rail tunnels have been built. He has given an interview to Swissinfo.ch which you can read here
The final break through of the tunnel was made today and in cutting the final 170 cm, the Swiss have created the World's longest tunnel. There's a comprehensive report here on the Swiss info website. Fitting out and testing is due to take another 7 years with the tunnel opening to traffic in 2017.
With a mere seven years to go before the opening of the Gotthard base tunnel, transport groups are starting to agitate for better infra structure to access the tunnel when it opens - link to article on Swiss Info website
The Brenner base tunnel is scheduled to open in 2025 at which time the freight train I am currently assembling to represent Brenner Pass traffic will become historic. What I had not realised during our trip to Innsbruck last year was that a significant amount of new tunnel had been opened in the Inn valley between Kufstein and Baumkirchen which probably explains why we saw a smaller variety of trains on our cycle trip. More details can be found here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Lower_Inn_Valley_railway
So perhaps in just ten years time, even seeing freight trains in the Alps will be a thing of the past.
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