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Rail service to Italy halted by landslide

Rail services through the Gotthard tunnel, the main connection between Zurich and Milan, have been halted by a landslide and will not be restored until Monday.

The landslide closed the line near Gurtnellen, just before the northern entrance to the rail tunnel, on Wednesday. The Swiss Federal Railways initially hoped to restore services by Thursday midday, but later announced that this would not happen until just before midday on Monday.

Geologists have reported that the hillside above Gurtnellen is unstable. It will be dynamited on Saturday.

Meanwhile buses have been organised for local passengers, while people travelling to Italy from Zurich, Basel or Lucerne are being rerouted via Brig, using the Simplon tunnel.

The railways has warned that journeys can take up to 90 minutes longer.

In 2006 a car was crushed on the motorway near Gurtnellen and its two occupants killed, when an avalanche of rocks fell on the road. As more rocks fell, the road was closed for a month, and the overhanging rock was blasted away.

A year earlier two motorists had a lucky escape in a similar incident in the same area.

The road and railway run more or less parallel to each other in the narrow Reuss valley leading to the Gotthard tunnel.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR