The Swiss Federal Transport Office, BAV, has approved test operations in the Ceneri Base Tunnel, from mid-February.
The Ceneri Base Tunnel is the final major structure to complete the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA – NEAT). The opening ceremony is scheduled for 4 September 2020 with the formal opening taking place in December 2020. Prior to it becoming operational, the finished tunnel will need to undergo comprehensive testing. Starting in March, AlpTransit Gotthard AG, the contractor who built the tunnel, will begin testing.
The approval issued by BAV to AlpTransit Gotthard AG is confirmation that traction power equipment can be switched on and test operations can begin. Following the final preparatory works, ATG will perform these tests between March and the end of August. The tests will check that all the relevant systems work together. All of this will be done in close collaboration with SBB. A rescue exercise will be part of the tests performed. This will take place in June.
Once SBB takes over the tunnel as operator in the beginning of September, there will be test trips with commercial freight and passenger trains until the tunnel opens to regular rail traffic in December.
To ensure that these test operations in the tunnel can be conducted with the European Train Control System (ETCS) Level 2, the BAV has also given SBB permission to start testing the new electronic signal box in Vezia.
The Ceneri Base Tunnel is 15.4km long and connects Camorino near Bellinzona with Vezia near Lugano. Starting in December 2020 it will improve passenger and freight traffic on the Gotthard axis. By creating a direct connection between Lugano and Locarno it will bring about a step-change in regional connectivity in Ticino.
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