Today the train is stopping again at Faido. But my journey takes me northwards towards Sedrun on the other side of the mountains.
While I travel, the impressions of the last three days on the construction site in Ticino flash past the train window.
It almost became a habit: the morning dose of caffeine in the workers’ canteen, chatting with the kitchen staff and then the first “patrol” round the site.
I’m reminded of the words of the logistics boss: miners don’t like talking to journalists. Was this AlpTransit’s view or his personal one?
In an effort to find out I decided to do some digging of my own. Not with a pickaxe, of course, but using my curiosity and interest. And I didn’t come up against a brick wall – or granite in this case. No, I discovered a soft layer of… humanity.
Some of the workers are born miners. They have a passion passed down from generation to generation and are attracted to the mountains and their cavernous spaces. After finishing work on the Gotthard Base Tunnel, they’ll be on the lookout for their next project, in Switzerland or elsewhere in the world.
Some miners are made. They take up the profession through necessity or convenience. Many - manual labourers and mechanics - who are used to working above ground, find the extra Swiss francs that come from doing the same job underground very useful at the end of the month.
People are not in it for the glory. It’s a privilege to be part of a crowning achievement such as the Gotthard tunnel, but the workers’ thoughts are usually elsewhere. They will never forget colleagues who died on the job. They think about their homes and families, so far away from the black hole under the ground.
Luigi Jorio, travelling to Sedrun, October 14, 2010
In the train towards the north, with a view of the Leventina region which won’t be visible from the Gotthard Base Tunnel.