The 2018 European Railway Award has been awarded to two pioneers of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the longest rail tunnel in the world that runs under the Gotthard massif in the Swiss Alps.
Peter Jedelhauser of Swiss Railways and Renzo Simoni, former CEO of AlpTransit Gotthard AG, received the award on Tuesday evening in Brussels “on behalf of everyone involved in building and putting Gotthard Base Tunnel into operation”.
This prize, considered the most important in the rail industry, is awarded by the Community of European Railways (CER) and the Association of the European Rail Industry (UNIFE).
Running for 57 kilometres under the Alps, the tunnel is a feat of engineering.
The jury took several factors into account, including the essential role that the tunnel plays for transalpine rail freight and for Europe-wide transport policy. “In Switzerland there is clear public support and political commitment to shifting the transport of freight from road to rail,” said CER Executive Director Libor Lochman. “The Gotthard Base Tunnel is part of this plan and it is hugely valuable to the people of Europe.”
“The longest railway tunnel in the world is not just an outstanding example of European engineering prowess,” added Philippe Citroën, Director General of UNIFE. “By overcoming geographical and infrastructural obstacles, the tunnel demonstrates how rail traffic can play a crucial role in ensuring an efficient and environmentally sustainable economy in Europe.”
The Gotthard Base Tunnel was officially opened to great celebration on June 1, 2016, after 17 years of construction. Freight trains have been running regularly through the tunnel since September 2016 and passenger trains since December the same year.
This is the third time Switzerland has won the European Railway Award after former government minister Moritz Leuenberger in 2009 and ex-CEO of Swiss Railways Benedikt Weibel in 2013.