On 16 January the first freight cars transporting trucks drove through the Gotthard Base Tunnel. As part of the test drive, a total of two freight cars and an accompanying vehicle travelled the length of the 57-kilometre-long tunnel. The purpose was to test how the vehicles and cargo behave in the tunnel, according to the company constructing the project, AlpTransit Gotthard AG. In particular, the tests checked the conditions under which the cargo can be safely transported through the tunnel. A total of 3,500 test drives will be conducted until the end of May before the tunnel opens officially in June.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel travels from Erstfeld in the canton of Uri to Bodio in the canton of Ticino. When all connection and access tunnels as well as shafts are added together, the entire tunnel system stretches over 152 kilometres long. With the overlying rock up to 2,300 metres in some places, it is not only the longest but also the deepest railway tunnel every built in the world.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the heart of the New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA), which also includes the Lötschberg and Ceneri tunnels. The Swiss Federal Office of Transport in Bern estimated at the end of 2014 that the project will cost a total CHF 18.2 billion.