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            october 22, 2019

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Busworld 2019

IRFC 2020

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Faster than planned and still accurate to the centimetre


On 16 June 2009, the tunnel drilling machine Gabi 1 broke through the final metres of rock in the section between Erstfeld and Amsteg.
It drilled through the rock in record time with high precision.
The machine travelled a distance of 7.2 kilometres in only 18 months and thus achieved the breakthrough
six months ahead of schedule and accurate to the centimetre. The excavator of the
Gotthard base tunnel (GBT), AlpTransit Gotthard AG (ATG), was extremely pleased with the
progress of construction work.
To date, 133 km or 87 % of the total length of the Gotthard tunnel system of 153.5 km have been
excavated. The main breakthrough between Sedrun and Faido is scheduled to be made at the
beginning of 2011. The tunnel will be 57 kilometres long and serve passenger and freight traffic
on the north-south axis from 2017, on completion of the installation of the rail technology and
commissioning work.
The breakthrough was celebrated deep within the mountains on 16 June and broadcast live on TV.
The Swiss transport minister, Federal Councillor Moritz Leuenberger, congratulated the tunnel
miners on site for their exceptional performance. In his speech, he showed how deeply impressed
he was with the efficient progress of drilling and expressed his gratitude to all concerned and
the miners, in particular. The construction of the NRLA demonstrates that Switzerland is part of
Europe as it is creating the longest railway tunnel in the world with Europeans for Europe. The
NRLA is central to the Swiss freight transfer policy and Europe admires Switzerland for the
constant and consistent expansion of its rail infrastructure, said Leuenberger.
Renzo Simoni, chairman of the executive board of ATG showed his great delight at the celebration.
“The breakthrough is another significant milestone in the construction of the first flat line through
the Alps”, said Simoni. Now all that remains is to break through the second tunnel bore between
Erstfeld and Amsteg and the two between Sedrun and Faido. That will not make the old dream
of “a clear view of the Mediterranean” come true. But Switzerland will have put in pioneering
work in constructing the first modern rail link through the Alps, in the interests of the transfer of
freight traffic to the railway and in the interests of faster train connections for passengers as
viable alternatives to short-haul flights and journeys by car.

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