Gotthard derailment: Limited SBB services to resume from September 29

Gotthard derailment: Limited SBB services to resume from September 29

From September 29, public transport services in Switzerland will be able to use the Gotthard Base Tunnel again. Limited services will soon run through the tunnel, reopening the rail axis after a massive derailment forced its closure back in August.

Passenger services can use the Gotthard Base Tunnel from September 29

In a statement, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) confirmed that a limited number of passenger trains will be able to use the Gotthard Base Tunnel from September 29. With the tunnel being the main rail axis between Italy, Swiss cities and the rest of Northern Europe, the company said that it had done “everything it can to resume travel through the Gotthard Base Tunnel as quickly as possible.”

Departing Zurich on Friday at 5.33pm, an Intercity (IC2) service will be the first to use the Gotthard after a freight train derailed while passing through it in August, damaging rails, sleepers and several of the tracks' main safety systems. While cargo trains have been able to use the eastern tube of the tunnel for some weeks, all passenger services through the mountains since the incident have been re-routed through the Gotthard Panorama Route, adding up to an hour to journey times.

SBB services through the Gotthard heavily restricted

The first service will run from Zurich through Zug, Arth-Goldau, the tunnel and Bellinzona before arriving in Lugano at 8.28pm. The announcement represents a major achievement for the government and SBB, who warned back in August that it may take until 2024 before passenger services would be able to use the longest rail tunnel in the world again.

However, it’s important to note that, because the eastern tube of the tunnel remains out of action, passenger services will be heavily restricted for the time being. Between September 29 and when SBB’s new timetable comes into effect in December, one train will run from Zurich to Lugano through the tunnel every Friday, and one service will run from Locarno to Zurich every Sunday evening.

Some direct trains between Italy and Switzerland will resume

During the German-speaking Swiss school holidays in October, two additional fast trains will run through the tunnel from Zurich to Bellinzona on Saturday mornings and one more train will run from Lugano to Zurich every Sunday afternoon. All other services between these cities will continue to use the Gotthard Panorama Route. The faster services can be identified through the SBB mobile app.

In terms of international travel, from October 23 services from Zurich to Genoa and Bologna to Zurich will resume - although passengers going in the opposite direction will still have to change in Chiasso. As a gesture of goodwill, SBB will also offer a 50 percent discount on luggage and bicycle tickets between Ticino and the rest of Switzerland from now until November 30.

Unclear when normal SBB services will resume

SBB noted that the services through the Gotthard will be speed-limited, so they will only be between 15 and 30 minutes quicker than the panorama route for the time being. They also encouraged passengers to book seats on these services, as they will be unable to run the trains through the tunnel if they are overloaded.

“SBB is aware that travellers want a wide range of trains through the Gotthard Base Tunnel again as soon as possible. [We continue] to do everything we can to make this possible”, SBB wrote. While conditions may now allow some trains to use the tunnel, it remains unclear how long it will take to repair the western tube and restore full service to the line.

Thumb image credit: Wirestock Creators /

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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