AlpTransit Gotthard (ATG) has announced it will go ahead with opening the Ceneri Base Tunnel on 4 September 2020, but with more modest celebrations.
The celebrations for the opening of the Ceneri Base Tunnel and the completion of the New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA) will take place on a much smaller scale in September than originally planned as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Guests will not be invited and the meeting with the transport ministers will take place via video conference. The opening of the Ceneri Base Tunnel for rail transport is still scheduled for December 2020.
The Swiss government, AlpTransit Gotthard AG and SBB are planning the celebrations for the Ceneri Base Tunnel and NRLA together. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, those responsible have decided to adapt the celebrations. The Swiss federal council took note of these changes during its meeting on 20 May.
3 September: the meeting of the transport ministers in Ticino, which was due to take place on 3 September will be replaced by a video conference on the international significance of the New Rail Link through the Alps. The RailSummit, which was to be hosted on this day, by SBB, is cancelled. The flat railway line through the Alps forms the core of the European rail freight corridor from Rotterdam to Genoa. It is an important infrastructure project to help shift freight from road to rail.
4 September: on 4 September the Ceneri Base Tunnel will, as scheduled, be handed over from construction company ATB to the future operator SBB. This will happen with an opening ceremony, but without the originally planned 650 guests. Representatives of the media are to be able to participate.
8 September: the event for those at AlpTransit AG that worked on the project won’t take place. A potential event at a later date is under discussion.
12 & 13 December: the celebrations planned for 12 and 13 December by SBB and its partners will be broken up. An event will take place in mid-December in line with the new timetable; however, the celebrations for the S-Bahn Ticino in Bellinzona, Lugano and Locarno will be moved to next summer.
A number of works and tests necessary for the opening of the Ceneri Base Tunnel had to be temporarily interrupted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Experts are currently looking into what effects this will have on the entry into service, the expansion of the rail services and the timetable.
It still remains the plan that the tunnel will open in time for the new timetable in December 2020. Discussions are currently focused on what services can be run. Freight transports are prioritised so that the benefit of the NRLA as a flat railway line through the Alps can show its full strength as soon as possible.
Once the NRLA is complete, more freight trains will be able to use the Gotthard axis. Transport times between north and south will be shorter and Ticino will get an S-Bahn.
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