Brussels, 15 October 2010
Commission welcomes the breakthrough in the east tube of the Gotthard base tunnel and congratulates Switzerland
Vice-President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport, commented: "Switzerland deserves praise for making an outstanding effort to deliver its share on time. When completed, the Gotthard base tunnel will form part of a larger trans-Alpine rail system, which currently includes the Lötschberg base tunnel and, later, will be completed by the Brenner and the Mont Cenis base tunnels."
A unique project
The 57 km-long Gotthard base tunnel will be part of a larger trans-Alpine rail system and is expected to become operational in 2017, adding 260 paths per day of extra capacity. It aims to achieve a modal shift from road to rail, mainly for freight transport but also for passenger transport on high-speed trains. It will be a major component of Priority Project No 24, "Railway Axis Lyon/Genoa–Basel–Duisburg–Rotterdam/Antwerp", and will in particular contribute to better links between north-western European seaports, the Mediterranean basin and to the Po Valley.
The traffic priority in the base tunnel will be heavy and longer freight trains (2000 t; 750 m) and high-speed passenger trains (200km/h) linking Basel to Milan. Regional passenger traffic and lighter freight trains will continue to use the mountain tunnel.
The next steps
The Commission, together with the Member States concerned, will continue to give high priority to the development of the northern and southern access to the Lötschberg and Gotthard branches; to this effect, the northern Karlsruhe–Basel section and the southern section between the Swiss–Italian border and Novara and Milan, are given particular attention.