SBB: ‘Gotthard Tunnel repair will cost over 100 million euros’
The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) said that repairing the damage caused by the derailment in the Gotthard Base Tunnel from last August will cost between 103 and 135 million euros (100 and 130 million Swiss francs). The company added that it will cover the damage, including loss of income, since it has “insurance for such events”.
The company also said it is planning to increase capacity for freight trains during weekdays and implement a mixed timetable for the weekends, leaving some capacity available for passenger trains. This new strategy will start on 10 December, but it first requires approval from the Swiss Federal Office of Transport, and will be valid until Easter 2024. Further information concerning the future is expected in the first quarter of next year, as SBB stated.
No full comeback before September 2024
A couple of weeks ago, SBB said the tunnel won’t be fully operational until summer 2024. From its last report, it seems that will be the end of summer, as the company now estimates it will happen in September. “The damage in the tunnel is much more serious than it initially appeared”, SBB added. The whole railway infrastructure needs to be completely replaced over a 7-kilometre stretch, including 20,000 sleepers and the ballast underneath. “In addition, the damaged lane change gate, two high-speed switches, and many other safety and operationally relevant system parts are being replaced”, SBB added.
The dynamic of the accident
On Thursday 10 August, a freight train derailed near the Faido interchange, which connects the eastern and western tunnels. SBB was quite vocal from the beginning in saying that the cause of the accident was to be found on the train rather than the tunnel infrastructure. It then turned out to be a faulty wheel, which had a crack that could not be detected. The derailed convoy hit the special gate that separates the two tunnels, destroying it. For this reason, both of them were closed for two weeks initially. SBB then replaced the gate with a temporary one to ensure freight traffic at least in the undamaged eastern tunnel. Cleaning operations inside the western tunnel were completed at the end of September and the repair work started after that.