Test trains through the Ceneri Base tunnel again

Test drives in the Swiss Ceneri Base tunnel have resumed after they were suspended for nearly three weeks. This was because the hygiene regulations that are in place to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus could not be followed. On Monday 20 April, trains started testing the tube again.

This was announced by AlpTransit Gotthard (ATG), the constructor of both the Ceneri Base and the Gotthard Tunnel. At the moment, the test operations comply with the local safety requirements. This was concluded in close cooperation between medical specialists of the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG) and the SBB, the infrastructure manager of Switzerland.

Now safe

ATG and SBB have prioritised the health of its employees in regards of the coronavirus, the contractor said. “The situation is continuously assessed and the test operations adapted to the circumstances.” A security officer is present at each test shift to assess the situation.

On 2 April, the test operations were suspended until 19 April. They could not be done complying to the safety requirements, as the required 2-meter distance in the driver’s cab was not maintained. ATG was able to carry out maintenance works after approval by the canton of Ticino.

Impact on completion

The Ceneri Base Tunnel is scheduled to be inaugurated by the Swiss president on 4 September 2020, and become operative in December this year. ATG, SBB and the Swiss Federal Office of Transport are looking into the further course of the project.

The Ceneri Base Tunnel is part of the New Railway link through the Alps (NEAT), aimed at a shift of freight from road to rail. In 2008, the Lötschberg Base Tunnel was opened. The modal shift was further encouraged with the opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in 2016. The Ceneri Base Tunnel is considered the final link, which should clear the entire north-south axis for 4-metre height trains. This should have a major impact on traffic from north to south Europe.

Also read:

Test drive Ceneri Base Tunnel halted, 1.5 metre distance not possible

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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