The second tunnel

18 May 1906
From Brig to Italy
From Brig to Italy

Today the Simplon Tunnel is overshadowed by the Gotthard and Lötschberg Base Tunnels, but when it opens in 1906 it is the longest rail tunnel in the world. Prior to completion, workers pose on a construction train in front of the north portal in Brig. (1900-1905, SBB Historic)

Eight years in the construction, the single-track Simplon Tunnel opens in 1906; it is Switzerland's second Alpine rail line after the Gotthard. Almost twenty kilometres in length, it is also the world's longest rail tunnel at the time. Now, western Switzerland is linked to a transit route to the south. Construction is overseen by the private Jura-Simplon-Bahn AG, then the largest rail company in Switzerland. With the nationalisation of the railways, its place is taken by Swiss Federal Railways (SBB). The line is electrified in 1908 and a second single-track bore is completed in 1921.

« The Commission therefore proposes a base tunnel 16,070 m in length in an altitude range from 820 to 830 m. »

Expert report on tunnelling through the Simplon, p. 36, 17.11.1886

Le Simplon

1955, SBB Historic

Le Simplon

The Simplon, 1955 (SBB Historic)

50 Jahre Simplontunnel

1956, Swiss Federal Archives

50 Jahre Simplontunnel

50 years of the Simplon Tunnel, 1956 (Swiss Federal Archives)

19'803 metres

length of the Simplon Tunnel

3'000 people

working on the Simplon Tunnel on average

7.5 years

to build the line rather than the expected 5.5 years

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