Switzerland’s Gotthard tunnel partially reopened for freight traffic, easing the bottleneck on a critical trade route through the Alps.
(Bloomberg) — Switzerland’s Gotthard tunnel partially reopened for freight traffic, easing the bottleneck on a critical trade route through the Alps.
About 20 trains had already traveled through the Eastern of the two tubes of the tunnel by early Wednesday morning, a spokesman for the Swiss federal rail operator SBB said, expecting a capacity of almost 100 freight trains per day. Direction changes every four trains.
Another 30 freight trains per day can be rerouted via the panorama route, enabling a total capacity of as many as 130 freight trains. In autumn 2022, an average of 120 freight trains used the base tunnel.
The 57-kilometer Gotthard tunnel, the world’s longest railway passage, had been closed since Aug. 10 when a derailed train seriously damaged its infrastructure. The route won’t return to full capacity for several months, hindering supply chains for Italian and German industries and forcing some transporters to partially shift their shipments to road trucks.
Companies have been searching for alternative freight routes since the accident. Some transporters have redirected trains via the Lötschberg/Simplon route and the Gotthard panorama route.
Those routes, though, can only be used by lighter and shorter trains, limiting capacity.
(Updates to add details throughout. An earlier version was corrected to say Wednesday in second paragraph.)
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