More than 80,000 members of the Swiss public turned out to experience the new Gotthard tunnel through the Alps during a celebration weekend open to everyone.
Some 30,000 people on Saturday and another 50,000 on Sunday attended events at four locations: Erstfeld and Rynächt in canton Uri as well as Pollegio and Biasca in canton Ticino, at the other end of the 57 kilometre-long tunnel.
It was the first time members of the public – who largely financed the project through their taxes – could see the hallmark engineering project that was 17 years in the making and officially opened to VIPs on June 1.
Special trains transited through the Gotthard throughout the weekend, with about 35,000 people choosing to take their inaugural ride through the world’s longest rail tunnel.
Swiss Federal Railways president Andreas Meyer made an appearance at the events in canton Uri, explaining that he wouldn’t have been satisfied with just a ceremonial tunnel opening and that “the public should also get a platform [for celebration] with this opening weekend”.
Some 240 additional trains were put in service to transport people to the event. Trains will officially begin circulating through the new Gotthard tunnel after the timetable changes in December 2016.
swissinfo.ch and agencies