New timetable increases Gotthard Tunnel’s freight capacity on weekdays
SBB will implement timetable changes on 10 December that will affect operations through the impaired Gotthard Base Tunnel. The Swiss national railway company will increase capacity for passenger trains during the weekend. However, it will reserve most capacity for freight trains during the weekdays.
As the company explained, from Monday to Thursday, all tracks passing through Gotthard will be available only for freight trains. From Friday to Sunday, traffic will be mixed, accommodating passenger trains as well. SBB plans to circulate 31 passenger trains through the Gotthard Base Tunnel between Friday and Sunday, which is much more than the five trains that used to run when passenger traffic partially resumed at the end of September.
Alongside SBB’s increase in passenger train capacity, freight services will continue enjoying prioritisation in path allocation. As the company underlined, the weekdays will be dedicated to cargo transit, with all tracks through Gotthard made available for freight trains. In this way, SBB claims to be increasing freight capacity, even though it does not state how much.
Indicatively, though, SBB’s initial plan was to run approximately 100 freight trains through Gotthard’s east tunnel daily, which would correspond to roughly two-thirds of the total usual traffic. An increase in these figures would mean that freight traffic would be a step closer to a full reinstatement.
Confidence in restoration timeframe
On the other hand, SBB is still very busy with the tunnel’s repair. The company says there’s still much work to do, but so far, works carried out successfully indicate that all necessary interventions will occur within the defined timeframe.
Clearance and recovery work was completed in October, so the focus in November has turned to reconstruction works in Gotthard’s west tunnel. “Overall, 7 kilometres of track have to be completely renewed in addition to more than 20,000 sleeper blocks, the track switching gate, two high-speed switches and numerous other plant components relevant for safety and operation,” concluded SBB.