Society

Since the invention of trains, cars and aeroplanes, we have been living in an age of mobility. Goods and people travel around the globe at ever increasing speeds. The NRLA is symbolic of a society gathering pace, especially in the urban and economic centres. Rural areas, meanwhile, stand to profit through tourism. The Lötschberg Base Tunnel, the second major axis of the NRLA after the Gotthard Base Tunnel, brings a new influx of tourists to the canton of Valais and allows large numbers of people to commute from Valais to jobs in the main German-speaking cities.

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1805

The first paved road through the mountains

The NRLA follows on from a centuries-old tradition of transport routes through the Swiss Alps.

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1868

Ticino sets the pace

The peripheral region of Ticino boasts some magnificent historic stations. The locals are quicker off the mark than their counterparts in central Switzerland, building while money is still available.

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1897

The Gotthard railway in literature

Spitteler, Moeschlin and Schädelin are just some of the writers captivated by the Gotthard railway.

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1914

The battle with nature

Railways are a comparatively environmentally friendly means of transport. In the Alps, however, they come up against the forces of nature.

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1957

Rail tourism

Rail is a popular means of transport. Switzerland’s railway lines contribute to its success as a tourist destination.

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25 February 1977

The overall transport strategy

The coordination of transport policy, with funding from the Confederation, forms an important basis for the NRLA.

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1985

The Gotthard myth

The Gotthard enjoys mythical status in Switzerland. It symbolises Switzerland’s defensive potential, but also its transit function.

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1992

Approval from western Switzerland

The main beneficiaries of the base tunnels through the Gotthard and Lötschberg are Zurich, Bern, Valais and Ticino. But the French-speaking cantons of western Switzerland also gain from the NRLA.

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2 February 1993

The NRLA and Europe

From the outset, business representatives and politicians view the NRLA as a project that will advance Switzerland’s integration into Europe.

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21 April 1993

Pressure from the environmental movement

The «construction project of the century» is the subject of heated debate, with politicians, administrators and environmental organisations grappling to find common solutions.

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13 December 1993

Spatial planning

Transport routes change the landscape. The routing of the NRLA lines thus becomes a matter of spatial planning.

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13 September 1995

Links to other countries

The success of the NRLA hinges on countries other than Switzerland. The amount of freight carried by rail will only increase if the Rotterdam-Genoa axis is modernised.

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8 October 1999

The big shift

With the expansion of the NRLA, goods traffic through the Alps is progressively transferred from road to rail, though more slowly than planned.

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2011

Using the tunnels to get away

The vast majority of passengers taking the train for their journey through the Alps are travelling not for business but for pleasure.

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23 August 2013

A million visitors

During construction of the Gotthard and Lötschberg Base Tunnels, the general public have an opportunity to view the inside of the mountain. Huge numbers do so.

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2016

Tunnels of the world

Whose tunnel is the longest? Tunnel construction is a never-ending competition for the world record.

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1 June 2016

High-profile guests at the opening ceremony

No expense is spared at the Gotthard Base Tunnel inauguration ceremony in 2016. Merkel, Hollande and Renzi are in attendance, but not the heads of the EU.

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11 December 2016

Costs and benefits

The NRLA has cost a lot of money. Time will tell how great the economic benefits are.

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2017

43,152 trains

In the opening months, traffic in the new Gotthard Base Tunnel occasionally grinds to a halt. The SBB lay on extra trains to cope.

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2017

The train feels the strain

The Lötschberg Base Tunnel becomes a victim of its own success. Planning for an expansion is already under way.

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2021

Whither the mountain routes?

Not everyone is a winner from the NRLA. The future of the world-famous Gotthard mountain route through the Urseren Valley and the Leventina is still undecided.

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