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October 25, 2001

Following yesterday's accident, the Gotthard road tunnel will remain closed for several weeks. At this point, it is impossible to say when the tunnel will open again. Meanwhile, traffic is being diverted to the Great St. Bernard, Simplon and San Bernardino (A13) routes. Private vehicles may also use the Gotthard Pass. Railway services have been expanded.

The closure of the Gotthard road tunnel has far-reaching consequences for road traffic in Switzerland and Europe. On an average day, some 18,700 vehicles pass through the tunnel. Following the accident, private vehicles are being deviated across the Alpine passes. It is hoped to keep open both the Simplon and the Gotthard passes to winter traffic. Options concerning the Gotthard pass are currently being evaluated. Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are being deviated to the San Bernardino route (A13), as well as Simplon and Great St. Bernhard. These alternative routes are indicated early to transit traffic (variable message signs along A2).

However, it will be difficult for the existing infrastructure to meet all transport needs for individuals and goods. The railways reacted very quickly, expanding their services. Swiss Rail (SBB) has reactivated road-to-rail services for private vehicles between Göschenen and Airolo. Alternatively, private vehicles may also use the BLS trains via Lötschberg/Simplon. Rolling Highway services for HGVs operated by SBB Cargo, RAlpin and Hupac have also been increased to transport up to 200 vehicles per day via Lötschberg/Simplon.

It is as yet impossible to say how long the Gotthard road tunnel will remain closed. It is expected to begin assessing the extent of the damage next Monday. To date, the only fact known is that a minimum of 200 metres of the false ceiling inside the tunnel has collapsed.

This morning, DETEC established a contingency committee headed by Hans Werder, Secretary General. This committee will coordinate immediate traffic guidance measures and information. It will also assess any additional measures (infrastructure, vehicles) required to enhance tunnel safety. The committee’s activities are based on the report by the Tunnel Task Force ratified in 2000.

Bern, 25 October 2001

DETEC—Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR