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Swiss Gotthard Base Tunnel rail journey

Gotthard Base Tunnel

For the avid train travelers among our Retiree community, there’ some exciting news when it come to unique train travel experiences. The Swiss have finally completed the new Gotthard Base Tunnel through the Swiss Alps and it will open on 11 December 2016 for you to experience.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel, which is the longest train tunnel in the world, has taken 17 years to construct. It is a pioneering masterpiece of modern, sustainable railway engineering and an exemplary example of Swiss precision planning, innovation and efficiency. Could you imagine this project happening in Australia? Probably not we say…

The 57km tunnel runs through the mountain at a depth of up to 2,300m. In just 17 minutes, it will link Erstfeld in the north of the Alps to the southern portal of Bodio – the reduced travel time bringing surrounding towns, regions and cross-border countries that much closer to each other.

Gotthard Base Train Tunnel
The Swiss Railway system is one of the world’s most advanced. The Gotthard  Base Tunnel trip is 57 km and is pioneering in terms of the world’s railway tunnels.

Furthermore, the Ceneri Base Tunnel in the Ticino (currently under construction as an important southern feeder to the Gotthard Base Tunnel) will complete in 2020, where it will reduce the travel time between Zurich and Milan to less than three hours.

With a long and legendary history dating back to the 13th century, the Gotthard route will no doubt greatly impact national and international traffic, especially the European corridor transport.

Apart from being an engineering feat, the new Gotthard Base Tunnel also now leads the way in ecological evolution, as it continues to be powered by hydroelectricity. During its construction, five new sub-power stations to the north and south were either built or had existing ones replaced. This simply translates to a thoroughly sustainable journey along the north-south axis through one of Europe’s largest environmental protection projects.

All of the building sites along the tunnel were re-naturalised upon completion, while the pure and clean water from the mountain is routed into a vaulted drainage system, where it is used to farm domestic fish including burbot and zander (pikeperch). Local residents have expressed their appreciation for this effort, as the natural mountain water from the Gotthard massif is free from environmental pollutants.

From the end of 2016, travellers and rail enthusiasts will be able to experience both pioneering projects through the mythical mountain massif by taking the Gotthard round-trip where they’ll link the classic Alpine train travel of yesteryear dating back to the 19th century to the newly completed state-of-the-art 21st century route. The Gotthard Base Tunnel is definitely on our to do list!!

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Alana Lowes

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