New Loetschberg Base Tunnel Cuts Travel Time
White Plains, NY, November 9, 2007 -- Switzerland’s new 22-mile long Loetschberg Base Tunnel under the Alps will cut travel time by 45-75 minutes within Switzerland and between Switzerland and Italy when it opens for passenger traffic on December 10 this year, according to an announcement by Rail Europe, North American subsidiary of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB).
Built at a cost of 4.3 billion Swiss francs ( $3.5 billion US/$3.7 billion CAN at press time), the new tunnel - which will be the longest tunnel on land* -- was open to freight traffic this summer, and will eventually carry 42 passenger trains daily in addition to freight trains.
All InterCity trains from Basel/Bern/Zurich to Brig and on to Italy will use the new tunnel. Trains will be able to run at speeds up to 124 mph, and double-decker trains will be able to run to Brig.
Travel times will shrink on the following and other routes:
Before After Time Savings Zurich or Basel - Zermatt 4 hrs 24 min 3 hrs 12 min 1 hr 12 min Bern-Zermatt 3 hrs 18 min 2 hrs 8 min 1 hr 10 min Bern-Milan 3 hrs 16 min 2 hrs 44 min 32 min
Currently, passenger trains on these routes use the original Loetschberg tunnel, built at the beginning of the 20th century (completed 1913) 1,300 ft. above the new base tunnel. The older mountain rail line and tunnel will be used by hourly regional trains, and the historic line will become one of the country’s official “scenic routes”.
For more information or to book individual or group travel on Swiss trains, and trains throughout Europe, contact your travel agent, or log on to (in the U.S.) or (Canada). Or call Rail Europe at 1-888-382-7245 (in U.S.) or 1-800-361-7245 (Canada). For information on Swiss destinations, log on to
* Note: Two underwater tunnels - the Sai-kan tunnel in Japan and Eurotunnel under the English Channel -- are longer. When Switzerland completes construction of the new Gotthard Tunnel - scheduled for 2016 - this will be the world’s longest tunnel (35 miles).
Photos: members of the press may download high-res photos of Eurostar and other European trains at