New Gotthard rail tunnel now openBack to Forum
World’s longest tunnel opened early today.
It cuts the rail journey time between Zurich and Lugano by 30 mins. Trains are able to run at up to 200 kms at the present time.
The new Gotthard rail tunnel is 57 kms or 35 miles long which makes it the longest in the world.11 Dec 2016
I’m looking forward to taking this train today or tomorrow. Lugano station had also been completely remodelled to make a new platform below the current ones to cope with the extra trains that will pass through.
The financing was also very interesting. The SBB and Government realised the railway could never repay the debt so following a vote the people agreed to a 20c increase on petrol, a half percent rise in VAT and a tax on lorries crossing Switzerland..
The tunnel now competed was built on time and on budget which is quite remarkable for a project of this size. Within the consortium were several British firms including Balfour Beatty.15 Dec 2016
I finally got to take the train this morning from Lugano to Arth-Goldau which is two stops before Zurich. They are using the same trains as before, which are very comfortable and spacious, but they now have information screens throughout the carriage which were not there before. The trains always had power points for recharging your phone etc but now there is continuous 4g for the whole route which was not there in the old tunnels.
I suppose it was a bit of an anti-climax if truth be told. We hit a top speed of 205kph with the 57 kms being covered in just 21 minutes but of course, it’s just in a tunnel, so nothing to see except the blackness and no real sense of speed as there is nothing to relate to outside, so shortly after entering the tunnel I fell asleep!
For me part of the fascination was going through something which I have seen being built over the last 10 years. When I was inside the tunnel (on several occasions) during the construction it was all lit up, ramps took you down and at one of the crossover points there is a lift which goes up about a 1,000 metres. None of that was visible today (I was awake for the return!). It was kind of strange knowing you’re travelling through an earthquake fault line and the fact there is over 2,000 metres of mountain above your head.
It is a boon for travelers as it has cut the journey by over half an hour and when the last section is complete Zurich will be just over 90 minutes from Lugano and about 2’15” from Milan.22 Dec 2016
Do you know if there are still any trains going over the old route? Give me views over speed most of the time. Last year in Korea made the mistake of thinking I would see a little of the country by taking the high speed train from Seoul to Busan. Probably half of the journey was in tunnels.22 Dec 2016
Morning Rjhcambs. Yes, the old route is still very much in existence as the towns of Airolo, Goeshenen, Erstfeld etc are still served by train.
The ticket price is exactly the same but you’ll have to make a change or two en route. Go to SBB.CH and for example on the Zurich – Lugano route add a via point such as Airolo. You’ll then get the local trains.23 Dec 2016
Having driven through the road tunnel southbound and then done the high pass route northbound this Summer, I can thoroughly recommend the (slower) high train route as it ducks and dives in and out of the mountains sometimes above the magnificently engineered road – and sometimes below it.
The Swiss really know how to do serious civil engineering in, around, through, up and over mountains.23 Dec 2016
Appreciate the feedback, LP. The future Zurich-Milan travel time of 2 hrs 15 mins equates to London-Manchester/Leeds. So that will an achievement.
AnthonyDunn – The original Gotthard (rail) route features several spirals.23 Dec 2016
It is an achievement Alex, considering especially it used to take almost 5 hours.
With the business district of Zurich just 5 minutes from the station and the centre of Milan 10 minutes away it will drive passengers away from taking the plane in future.
Saying that I don’t think Swiss will abandon the route as MXP is a very valuable feeder route for their long haul flights. Ex Milan they are quite competitive with the likes of Emirates and Qatar and provide in my opinion, a much better service without the need for a midnight shuffle in Dubai or Doha.24 Dec 2016
I travelled by train on Friday from ZRH to MIL via the new tunnel, which as LP says, is an anti-climax, but then to paraphrase Basil Fawlty, I wasn’t expecting to see the Hanging Gardens of Babylon or herdes of wildebeest sweeping majestically across the Serengeti (although I did see herds of wildebeest in Botswana a couple of weeks ago.)
I was somewhat disappointed with the journey. I took the 1110 out of ZRH Hbf. I was hoping to get a beautiful sparkling clean SBB train, but the route is operated by SBB and Trenitalia/FS, so it’s a 50% chance and I got unlucky and was on an old tatty Freccia train, not very clean, a bit smelly (toilets I suspect) and almost completely full even in F. My seat was facing backwards and there was a panel next to it so I didn’t have a good view, although was able to move to another seat.
Luggage storage space was inadequate, so people had their luggage in the aisle, obstructing passage.
There was no onboard WiFi, which I think is poor for such a service.
I didn’t use the catering facility as I didn’t feel like pushing through a crowded train. Luckily I had brought something to eat and drink in ZRH.
The worst part was arriving in Milano C. from where I had a 30 minute connection onto a Thello service to France. Milano C. is a filthy, overcrowded, disfunctional hellhole of a station, particularly compared to the pristine cleanliness and efficiency of Switzerland. There are a lot of, shall I say, ‘transients’ hanging around, all looking rather sinister and creating an impression of insecurity. On a previous passage through I saw a foiled pickpocketing attempt take place, and apparently this is quite common.
I wanted to purchase something to eat and drink for the next leg of the journey. There is only one small and inadequate facility to do so, which had a long disorderly line of people waiting outside pushing and shoving to get in. When I managed to get in and select something, and it mostly looked quite appetising, I was told that you have to decide what you want, go and queue to pay for it, get a ticket, and then go back and queue again to obtain your selection. What a stupid and time-wasting idea, specially for people in transit with limited time (and patience!). I walked out hungry and ended up trying three vending machines to buy some water and chocolate, before finding one that worked.
The Italians need to clean up their act. I have nearly always found travelling in Italy to be unpleasant and stressful and it contrasts particularly poorly with its neighbours to the north. A shame as it is a country with some beautiful scenery and architecture and excellent food, and of course a rich culture and history.28 Apr 2019
You are so right Capetonian about these trains, and it’s a big bone of contention between SBB and FS. It appears they use the worse of their rolling stock on this route, as the trains out of Milan to Venice, Florence Rome etc are actually quite good. Clean and with decent meals served on board. By coincidence I was on the same route Friday, but traveled late afternoon, and while I try and avoid the EC trains, the ones that go to Milan, it would have meant waiting an hour and I wanted to get home.
The train was very crowded, but it was a Friday afternoon and my carriage was full, but I had a seat to myself at the back by the window. And yes, there was a funny smell, but it seemed to go (or I got used to it) when the sliding door to the carriage closed. However what I dislike on those trains is the aircraft type seating rather than the club type seating found on the normal InterCity trains of the SBB.
Another point as you mention is the lack of baggage space, of which again there is ample at each end of the carriage on the IC trains, and above and between the club seats.
The only way to avoid the Milan train is to take the IC train to Lugano or Chiasso, then change to the Regional train which is a Swiss one but they are not as plush as the IC ones. However, though travel time is the same, it means a chnage of train which will add about 20 minutes to the journey.
I’m off now to Zurich but have managed to avoid the Italian trains!!
1 user thanked author for this post.30 Apr 2019
Swiss Federal Railways has new trains which, by next year, will be running between Zurich, Lugano and on to Milan.
1 user thanked author for this post.9 May 2019