A freight train derailed in the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland, blocking passage through a key route linking Northern and Southern Europe for goods transport as well as passengers during the height of the summer travel season.
(Bloomberg) — A freight train derailed in the Gotthard tunnel in Switzerland, blocking passage through a key route linking Northern and Southern Europe for goods transport as well as passengers during the height of the summer travel season.
The tunnel will remain closed until at least Aug. 16, the country’s federal rail operator SBB said in a statement. Some passenger trains and part of the freight will be redirected via the so-called panorama route over the mountains, which will add about an hour to planned journeys, SBB said. Some freight may also move via the Lötschberg track.
SBB is also working to use the Gotthard tunnel’s second tube to restart operations. At 57 kilometers, the world’s longest railway passage last year accounted for nearly 70% of all train freight moving through the Swiss alps to ship provisions to German and Italian companies. A large number of steel tubes, paper and packaging products for Italian companies are regularly transported via the tunnel.
While the closure of the transport route will impact supply chains, the summer holiday means freight volumes are currently at a seasonal low, SBB said.
The accident, in which no one was hurt, derailed 23 of the cargo train’s 32 cars and damaged a gate in a tunnel connecting the two main tubes that run North to South. The removal of one single derailed car takes hours, SBB officials said during a media call.
As long as the connecting tunnel is open no trains can go through either of the two tubes due to changes in air pressure caused by fast-moving trains endangering rescue teams, according to officials. Provided that engineers find an interim solution to fix the gate in the connecting tunnel, SBB officials indicated the intact tube may open for traffic by mid next-week.
(Updates with comments from SBB throughout)
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