Switzerland’s national railway Swiss Federal Railways (SSB) has provided an update on the substantial clearing and rescue operation at the accident site in the western tube following a freight derailment, stating that the damage will take several months to rectify.

The removal procedure is in succession and, according to SSB, is “extensive”, with individuals working in two shifts seven days a week, with work to last until the end of September.

SSB has reported that freight travel has continued through the tunnel but with restrictions: “Currently, around 90 of a maximum possible 100 freight trains run through the Gotthard Base Tunnel per day. 

“An additional 15 to 20 freight trains per day travel along the Gotthard panoramic route. SBB, together with its partners, is doing everything it can to further improve the situation for freight transport.”

The incident, which occurred at approximately 12:50 CET, featured a dual-locomotive train consisting of 30 freight cars “of various types” that deserted the lines at or near Faido.

According to the train operator, 22 of the 30 railcars were taken from the tunnel, with several sustaining such severe damage that they had to be deconstructed in the tunnel before they could be hauled away.

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The official update further stated that a temporary track was created to recover the derailed carriages via the south portal, which is located 15km from the disaster point.

The Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board described the incident on August 10, 2023, in a report: “Sixteen freight cars of a train made up of 30 wagons, which was travelling north in the base tunnel of San Gottardo, derailed near the Faido multifunctional station.”

As previously reported, the train was operated by the SBB and was transporting merchandise owned by “various Swiss and foreign wagon owners”.

Simultaneously with this operation, the SBB is completing an evaluation of the damage, implying that when the removal work is completed, repairs to the damaged railway systems may begin immediately.

SBB stated that ordering replacement material can take place once the full extent of damage is evaluated. As previously said, the damage will take several months to rectify.

According to Gotthard Tunnel live traffic, closures remain across the tunnel from September 11 to October 4, 2023.