Road vs rail

Meet me in the mountain

In 1948, the construction of a road tunnel through the Gotthard seems like a gigantic project that fuels fantasies of convivial gatherings. (25 September 1948, Schweizerische Allgemeine Volkszeitung)

In the early 1960s a heated debate flares up over the issue of a new bore through the Gotthard. It pits advocates of a road tunnel, who have come together since the Second World War, against proponents of a rail tunnel. In 1963 Hugo Gschwind, Chairman of the SBB’s Directorate General, intervenes in the discussion, arguing that if traffic continues to increase massively, the SBB will need a base tunnel. The Gotthard tunnel study group calls for the construction of the road tunnel, but also approves a rail base tunnel project. The Federal Council, however, opts to shelve it. The Gotthard road tunnel is built between 1970 and 1980.

« The faster goods in transit can be conveyed through our country, the better our chances of competing successfully with foreign routes. »

Hugo Gschwind, Chairman of the SBB Directorate General, Letter to the SBB Board of Directors, 21 June 1963
2576 million francs

are invested in road building between 1950 and 1980

519 million francs

are invested in railways

3 + 57 hours + minutes

is the length of the train journey from Basel to Chiasso in 1976

3 + 7 hours + minutes

to do the same journey by car

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