«Without the Gotthard there is no Swiss Confederation!» proclaims Federal Councillor Jean-Pascal Delamuraz on 9 November 1985 in a speech marking 100 years of the Gotthard fortifications. The Gotthard enjoys mythical status in Switzerland. It symbolises the country's ability to defend itself, but also its transit function. Switzerland, it is said, has inevitably always been a hub of international transport, and the tunnels are a modern response to that challenge. The Teufelsbrücke («Devil's Bridge»), the hairpins of the Tremola road and the original Gotthard Tunnel are cited as examples. At the same time, the importance of the Gotthard and Switzerland to goods transport must be set against the larger volumes transiting through both Austria and France and the increase in high-sea navigation.
The Gotthard myth
Nebelspalter: Our «fire-spitting» mountains. Memories of mountain manoeuvres, 1909 (Swiss National Library)
20 per cent
of Alpine goods traffic travelling through Switzerland (2011 figures).
21 per cent
of Alpine goods traffic travelling through France (2011 figures).
59 per cent
of Alpine goods traffic travelling through Austria (2011 figures).