St Gotthard Attractions
Height of pass: 2,108 m/6,916ftThe St Gotthard massif in central Switzerland is one of Europe's most important watersheds, with the sources of the Rhine, the Rhône, the Reuss and the Ticino (Tessin). This rugged mass of crystalline schists and granite was for many centuries an obstacle to transit through the Alps, and it was only the bold road-building operations of the 18th and 19th C. and the construction of the St Gotthard railroad that opened up this shortest route from north to south for modern traffic. In 1980 after 11 years' work the St Gotthard road tunnel was completed. There was already a bridle-path over the St Gotthard pass in the 13th C. The first section of the modern road, between Andermatt and Airolo, was constructed in 1819-30, and this was later extended farther south. The construction of the St Gotthard railroad (Gotthardbahn) in 1874-82 was an outstanding technical achievement for its day, costing the lives of 177 men, including the engineer in charge, Louis Favre.
Gotthardbahn (Basel, Zurich to Lugano railroad)
Route: Basle or Zurich-Gotthard Tunnel-Lugano or vice versa.Length of route: Basle-Lugano about 300km/186mi; Zurich-Lugano 216km/134mi. Duration of journey: from Basle four and from Zurich three hours.Highlights: The Gotthard Railroad (built between 1874 and 1882) gives the Swiss railroads the quickest North-South connection over the Alps. The summit of the Gotthard Massif is pierced by a railroad tunnel with a length of 15km/9mi and a maximum height of 1,154 m/3,787ft.Since 1961 the Trans-Europa Express (TEE) "Gotthardo" has made the journey from Zurich to Lugano (First class with supplement) and this is the finest way of making this trip.
William Tell Express (Lucerne to Lugano railroad)
The William Tell Express (first stage by steamer from Lucerne to Flüelen) runs to Lugano from the end of May to the end of October.
Historic post route
St Gotthard Road Tunnel
The new St Gotthard Road Tunnel (toll-free) is the longest road tunnel in the world (16.3km/10mi), passing through the mountains at a height of 1,175 m/3,855ft. Its completion means that the St Gotthard route is now open year-round. It runs from Göschenen, north of Andermatt, to Airolo in the canton of Ticino.The opening of the N 2 in 1986 meant that it is possible to drive direct from Basle to Chiasso, leading to an increase in through-traffic along the valleys of the Reuss and Ticino. In view of the expected growth in the volume of traffic as a result of the single market in the European Community (EC) plans for a 50km/31mi-long tunnel, from Amsteg in the Reuss valley to Bodio in Ticino, are under discussion.