Test drive

Switzerland has opened the world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel, Gotthard Base Tunnel, connecting Erstfeld (Uri) with Bodio (Ticino) and passing below Sedrun (Graubunden).

The first flat low-level route through the Alps, the 57.09km-long Gotthard Base Tunnel comprises a 151.84km network of tunnels, shafts and passages forms a part of the AlpTransit project.

Wholly owned subsidiary of Swiss Federal Railways, AlpTransit Gotthard has constructed the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

With two single-track tunnels, the project was built at a cost of around CHF12bn (€10.8bn) over 17 years.

Expected to begin service in December, the tunnel will allow passenger and freight trains to run at top speeds of up to 250kmph and 160kmph respectively, taking no more than 20 minutes.

The tunnel will allow 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains every day.

It will reduce the travelling distance between Altdorf and Bellinzona by 30km, as well as cutting the journey time from Zurich to Lugano by around 45 minutes.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is equipped with European train control system (ETCS) Level 2 signalling, control and train protection systems.

"The tunnel will allow passenger and freight trains to run at top speeds of up to 250kmph and 160kmph respectively."

Alcatel-Lucent Switzerland is responsible for providing telecommunications and tunnel control technology for the project, and has selected CommScope for providing mobile coverage inside it.

American telecommunications company CommScope has supplied distributed antenna systems (DAS), allowing train operators, dispatchers and personnel to communicate.

CommScope Europe wireless head Phil Sorsky said: "In today’s connected era, consumers expect their smartphones and tablets to work perfectly regardless of where they are and what services they’re trying to access.

"Working closely with Alcatel Lucent, we will provide high-speed cellular coverage, and reliable public safety communication.

"All services will be accessible from inside the train for the entire duration of the journey; both for those taking the maiden voyage on 1 June 1 and for future passengers once the tunnel opens to the wider public in the coming months."

Image: First electric test drive. Photo: courtesy of MultiVu / PR Newswire.