Car vs rail

25 June 1965
Free to travel on the open road
Free to travel on the open road

After fifteen years’ planning and construction, the Gotthard road tunnel finally opens in 1980. Now anyone can drive south through the mountains, and the post bus runs only in exceptional circumstances. In 2015 the Swiss electorate votes to build a second road tunnel through the Gotthard. (1980, ETH library)

In 1965 Parliament decides to build a road tunnel through the Gotthard. The vote in favour of mass motor transport is met with euphoria: the road ahead seems clear for the car - an affordable way for the masses to get around. Construction takes from 1970 to 1980. The project managers assume that the tunnel will primarily serve the increasing number of people who are on the move, but there is also a sharp rise in the volume of goods transported by road. From now on, road traffic through the Alps is a real competitor for rail.

« This tunnel is not a corridor for heavy goods traffic. »

Federal Councillor Hans Hürlimann, Speech on the opening of the Gotthard road tunnel, 05.09.1980
16'942 metres

length of the road tunnel.

7000 motor vehicles

on average travel over the Gotthard each day in 1970, the year in which construction of the tunnel begins.

16'000 motor vehicles

on average travel through the Gotthard each day in 1980, the year in which the tunnel opens.

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