Link through the Lötschberg

14 July 1913
The lure of the South
The lure of the South

Like the Gotthard Tunnel, the Lötschberg Tunnel drastically cuts travel times between North and South. On this advertising poster from 1935, the tracks lead directly to a radiant Milan Cathedral. (1935, SBB Historic)

Following construction of the Gotthard and Simplon lines, western and eastern Switzerland as well as the Bern region want their own Alpine railway. In 1906, the rail company Berner Alpenbahngesellschaft Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon (BLS), the Canton of Bern and the Bern Electricity Company form a syndicate that successfully constructs the line. The twin-track Lötschberg tunnel is completed in 1911 and becomes operational in 1913. As a result, there is now a direct rail link from Switzerland's western plateau to Italy.

« Building a rail line across the Alps will require such considerable financial resources that, in this respect alone, there can never be talk of a second, let alone a third. »

E. Schmid, Crossing the Alps by Rail, p. 1, July 1864

50-Jahre Lötschberg-Durchstich

1961, Swiss Federal Archives

50-Jahre Lötschberg-Durchstich

50 years of the Lötschberg Tunnel, 1961 (Swiss Federal Archives)

50 Jahre Lötschbergbahn

1963, Swiss Federal Archives

50 Jahre Lötschbergbahn

50 years of the Lötschberg rail line, 1963 (Swiss Federal Archives)

14'612 meters

length of the Lötschberg tunnel

26 workers

killed on 23 July 1908 when blasting causes the tunnel entrance to fill with around 7,000 cubic metres of sand, gravel and mud

1871 year

pressure from France for a direct Swiss link to Italy following the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian war

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