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Gotthard tailbacks San Bernardino tunnel re-opens after fire

traffic queues

Tailbacks to enter the Gotthard tunnel going south on Saturday reached a record since 1999

(Keystone)

The San Bernardino tunnel in the Swiss Alps has re-opened following a fire last Friday. Traffic started passing through the 6.6 kilometre (4.1 mile) structure at 5am on Thursday, the Federal Roads Office confirmed. 

A stretch of around 100 metres had been damaged – mostly electromechanical equipment and safety features – but after intensive work the tunnel could be re-opened within a short period, the office said. To allow further inspections, the San Bernardino will shut again on Friday and Sunday, on both days between 1am and 3am. 

The major tunnel in southeastern Switzerland was closed on May 18 after a German coach caught fire, causing record traffic jams in the region. The tunnel is an alternative route to the Gotthard artery connecting northern and southern Switzerland, and a popular route for European holidaymakers heading south. 

As a result of the closure, queues of up to 28 kilometres were reported at the northern entrance to the Gotthard tunnel on Saturday. The disruptions were exacerbated by the long Pentecost weekend.

+ Read more about previous traffic congestion at the Gotthard tunnel

The bus was carrying 22 passengers and caught fire some 500 metres before the northern end of the tunnel. All passengers were able to leave safely and there were no serious casualties, reported the local police.

SDA-ATS/ts

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