Ceneri Base Tunnel

From 13 December 2020, Ticino will be even closer when the 15.4km-long railway tunnel between Lugano and Bellinzona becomes operational. Closer to the rest of Switzerland, but that’s not all... It will also be much easier to explore Ticino during the holidays. Here’s how.

The Ceneri Base Tunnel is the third largest construction project of the NRLA (New Rail Link through the Alps) and, at 15.4 km. the fifth longest railway tunnel in Switzerland. It’s a milestone of huge importance for international freight traffic and, for passenger traffic, an immense improvement in terms of north-south connectivity in Switzerland and between the Sopraceneri and Sottoceneri (upper and lower Ticino).

After twelve years of construction, the new Ceneri Base Tunnel will enter service in December 2020. The Gotthard Base Tunnel, which opened in 2016, vastly improved connections between the north and south of Switzerland; travel times will now be cut once again. Trains will take less than two hours between Zurich and Lugano, while 30 minutes will be shaved off journey times between Locarno and Lugano: exciting prospects for the future of public transport in Ticino, promising faster and more convenient travel. Indeed, the 15.4 km railway tunnel between Camorino and Vezia is an important milestone in terms of regional public transport in the canton. The inauguration of the Ceneri Base Tunnel marks the completion of the NRLA, which has been almost sixty years in the planning and implementation.

The Ceneri Base Tunnel is the natural southward continuation of the Gotthard Base Tunnel – operational since 2016 – for high-speed rail traffic. Work began in 2006 and was completed in 2019. The tunnel will be operational in December 2020 with a new FFS timetable.

A dream of a mobility that is getting closer: a breakfast of cappuccino and pastries in Locarno’s Piazza Grande before jumping on a train to Lugano just in time for the museums to open. Or dinner in Piazza della Riforma in Lugano before enjoying an evening screening at the Locarno Film Festival in Piazza Grande. A world of opportunities will open up thanks to the Ceneri Base Tunnel and the strengthening of the Locarno railway line, which will bring trains and their passengers from Locarno to Lugano in just 30 minutes.  This means that while staying in the sunny region of Lake Maggiore, opportunities to discover Ticino’s traditions in its other cities will be within easier reach. In 2020, Monte Ceneri is also celebrating the opening of the “Via del Ceneri” story, a themed itinerary that links Monte Ceneri to Cadenazzo and highlights historically important points of interest such as the Precassino mill and the square on the pass.

Opening ceremonies are due to be held in Locarno, Bellinzona and Lugano on 29/30 May 2021, with a series of activities taking place in the run-up. For details please visit www.ceneri2020.ch

  • Ceneri Base Tunnel in the Swiss Federal Railways’ special school and activity train
  • Ceneri Base Tunnel at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne
  • Via del Ceneri – interactive footpath over the Monte Ceneri
  • Poster exhibition on the Monte San Salvatore
  • Via d’aventura NEAT – NRLA educational trail in Sedrun

The project stages in brief:

  • 2 June 2006 – work started
  • 26 January 2016 – excavation completed
  • 26 July 2017 – track laying started
  • 29 August 2019 – railway technology installation completed
  • March 2020 – first train through the tunnel
  • 4 September 2020 – official opening of the tunnel

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