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Gotthard base tunnel Public shows huge interest in riding the first trains

The light at the end of the tunnel, seen during a test ride of the west tube of the Gotthard base tunnel, from Biasca in the south to Erstfeld in the north

(Keystone)

As of the January 31 deadline, 160,000 people had entered a drawing to ride on the first two trains to pass through the world’s longest train tunnel, the 57-kilometre Gotthard Base Tunnel, when it officially opens on June 1.

The drawing, which began in December 2015, had already received 140,000 entries within two weeks of kickoff. The first 10 winners were announced during the Swiss Awards, broadcast on Swiss public television SRF, on January 9.

Each of the 500 winning members of the public will receive two tickets for either the train running from canton Uri in the north to canton Ticino in the south, or from Ticino to Uri. A decision was made to include members of the public rather than dignitaries on the inaugural journey, as a nod to the community’s support of the project.

On June 1, official celebrations will take place in the two cities where the tunnel begins: Erstfeld in canton Uri and Pollegio in canton Ticino. Festivities for the public will be held on June 4 and June 5.

Construction of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which is located 2,300 metres below the ground, began in 1999. With the implementation of a new train timetable in December 2016, 325 trains will pass through the tunnel per day at speeds of up to 200 km/h. It will take approximately 20 minutes to travel through the tunnel.

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swissinfo.ch and agencies

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