Whither the mountain routes?

Traffic converges in the Alps
Traffic converges in the Alps

The two Biaschina spiral tunnels in the Leventina are legendary among rail enthusiasts. Above them runs the Gotthard motorway. (unknown, Steineggerpix sagl)

Among the beneficiaries of the fast NRLA connection through the Gotthard is the canton of Ticino, which records a substantial rise in overnight stays (in 2017 the number of nights spent in hotels and guest houses rose by 7.7% to 2.3 million). But the Urseren Valley in the north and the Leventina in the south face becoming tourist backwaters. The old mountain route, which for over a century delighted rail travellers with its panoramas, the loop tunnels near Wassen and the spirals in the Biaschina, now faces an uncertain future. Unlike the old Lötschberg line with its car-transporting trains, the route has no clear function. Who will bear the vast cost of maintaining it? Should the line be given UNESCO World Heritage status or be used more for freight transport? The SBB and South-Eastern Railway plan to operate and market the line jointly from 2021.

« Decommissioning the Gotthard mountain route in the short to medium term is inadvisable for political, historical and transport reasons. »

FOT website, Federal Council report, 2014
500 number of passengers

still taking the Gotthard mountain route every day.

7600 number of passengers

using the mountain route before the Gotthard Base Tunnel opened.

2.28 million

number of people staying overnight in Ticino's hotels and guest houses in 2017, 7.7 per cent more than in 2016 - a sharp increase partly due to the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

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