When the Gotthard Base Tunnel comes into operation later this year, it will revolutionise Alpine transport. Its opening will also bring a wealth of opportunities to the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino.
The tunnel – the longest of its kind in the world – is at the heart of the New Trans-Alpine Railway Link (NEAT) project, geared at improving the north-south rail link through the Alps.
The construction of base tunnels will put the rail link’s highest elevation only 550 metres above sea level, considerably lower than the highest points on existing routes through the mountains. In this way, base tunnels enable flatter and shorter rail routes so trains can travel at higher speeds and pull more weight.
Besides the Gotthard base tunnel, the NEAT – considered Switzerland’s largest-ever construction project – also includes the Lötschberg Base Tunnel in operation since 2007 and the Ceneri Base Tunnel, expected to open in December 2020.
The Italian-speaking canton of Ticino lies at the southern end of the Gotthard Base Tunnel and also hosts both ends of the Ceneri Base Tunnel. Both tunnels are expected to dramatically improve the canton’s transport system, and with it opportunities for business and tourism.