In Switzerland, a derailment caused damage that will take months to repair, closing the world's longest rail tunnel to passengers. A week after the incident on 10 August, sixteen wagons derailed inside the Gotthard Base Tunnel and are still stuck. Swiss authorities said "no indication" when it would reopen. Read SURFACES REPORTER (SR)’s complete report below:
Complexity of Repairing the Gotthard Base Tunnel
SBB and Canton's public prosecutor are leading an investigation into the incident. Around 8km (4.9 miles) of track and 20,000 concrete sleepers need to be replaced, according to SBB. The rail operator added that one side of the tunnel was unaffected and should operate "in principle" for freight use from 23 August, but passenger trains would not be able to use the unaffected side due to safety concerns.
Currently, there is no indication of how long the tunnel will be closed. SBB said in a statement: "The tunnel has been closed to passenger and freight traffic since the derailment. "Diverting trains via the panorama route means longer journey times for passengers."
True Cost of Damage
It cost more than $12 billion (£8.2 billion) to build the Gotthard rail link, which opened in 2016. The Swiss rail operator SBB chief executive Vincent Ducrot said on Wednesday that Gotthard is among the world's safest tunnels. "The fact that an accident like this could happen has hit us hard," he said. "Thankfully, there have been no injuries, but significant damage was suffered."
Among other things, Gotthard is an important passageway for cargo, particularly between Germany and Italy. It cuts through the Alps and provides a high-speed link between northern and southern Europe. Last year, more than two-thirds of rail freight in the Alps passed through the tunnel.
It is expected that journey times will take at least 60 minutes longer, and passengers travelling internationally will have to change trains in Chiasso. Only trains to and from Genoa and Venice will run directly, SBB said.
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