Journey times become shorter and shorter

Over the top, not through the rock

In 1873 Jules-Jacques Jacot-Guillarmod paints the Gotthard road in its winter finery. It vastly shortens journey times from north to south. (1873, Museum for communication)

Around 1800, it takes travellers at least ten days to cover the 310 kilometres from Basel to the Italian border; in bad weather the trip can take upwards of twenty. The opening of the road over the Gotthard in 1830 cuts that time drastically: to just 36 hours (without breaks) by coach and ship from Basel to Chiasso. Once the Gotthard railway line is complete, the figure is slashed once again, to 8 hours and 15 minutes. Over the course of the 20th century, the journey time progressively falls to 4 hours and 20 minutes. Today, thanks to the NRLA, it is just 3 hours and 40 minutes in a comfortable seat: fully 65 times faster than in 1800.

« Train departure times are governed by the station clocks, which are synchronised with the federal telegraph clock (Bern time). »

Gotthard Railway, Timetable, 1 June 1885
7-14 days

is how long it takes to travel from Basel to Chiasso in 1800

36 hours

is the length of the journey by mail coach and ship in 1850

3+40 hours + minutes

to make the same journey today

65 times quicker

today than in 1800

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