Test trains running on Gotthard Base Tunnel

The first test train has taken to the western tube of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, marking 900 days until the official opening of the world’s longest rail tunnel.

AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd chief executive Renzo Simoni, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) chief executive Andreas Meyer and Transport Minister Doris Leuthard launched the project’s test phase on December 16 on the southern section of the link between Bodio and Faido.

Trial runs will be conducted along the 13-kilometre section between now and June 2014 to test the tunnel’s infrastructure and various ancillary systems.

Passenger trains remain on course to begin operation in December 2016, several months after the official inauguration of the line in June.

At 57 kilometres, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which will travel through the Alps between the northern portal of Erstfeld and Bodio in the south, will become the longest rail tunnel in the world once complete, stripping the title from Japan’s 53.85 kilometre Seikan Tunnel.

Celebrating the milestone, Doris Leuthard said: “Innovation, precision, safety and reliability – these are the values with which our country prospers – and these are the foundations on which the Gotthard Base Tunnel is built. We can be proud of what we have achieved so far.”