The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

30 Years Ago, Work Started on the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Exactly 30 years ago, the first drilling for the Gotthard Base Tunnel began. It was a test drilling at Faido TI in the notorious Piora-Mulde, known for its difficult rock. On Wednesday at 11 o'clock, the first official test drilling for the New Alpine Transversal (Neat) began, with Swiss President Adolf Ogi and the entire Ticino State Council in attendance. The test drilling happened to be in the same place where a goods train derailed in the Base Tunnel last August. At the time, the main concern was whether the Base Tunnel could be built in the mountains with a reasonable effort. The area north of Faido, the Piora-Mulde, was considered one of the most difficult sections of the future Base Tunnel. It consists of dolomite-anhydrite-marble, a rock that can crumble into a sugar-like form and make tunnel construction much more difficult. In March 1996, the workers encountered a layer of sugar-like dolomite 300 meters above the planned tunnel level. However, further investigations showed that the feared rock was dry and solid at tunnel level and only sugar-like in the higher regions. The drilling machines were able to overcome the Piora-Mulde, both in the west and east tunnels, without any problems in 2008/2009. In 2010, the miners celebrated the breakthrough at the Gotthard. Finally, in 2016, 23 years after the start of the test drilling, the scheduled operation of the 57 kilometer long Gotthard Base Tunnel was launched.

©Keystone/SDA

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