The Alps form a topographic barrier to European transport. In order to provide more efficient transit routes between northern and southern Europe, Switzerland is investing a great deal of money in building new rail lines. At the heart of its efforts are the three new base tunnels through the Alps.
In order to prepare the approach routes to the base tunnels to meet the growing requirements, Switzerland is investing a further 2.2 billion Swiss francs (around 2.1 billion euros; current prices, including interest and VAT) primarily in new signalling systems which will allow the time between trains to be reduced.
The New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA) is the largest construction project in Switzerland’s history. It involves expanding two north-south rail routes. The inclines and curve radiuses of these new routes are comparable with railway lines in the lowlands. The resulting routes will be shorter and will enable trains to travel at higher maximum speeds. In addition, the train configurations will no longer need to be changed. The key elements of the NRLA are the three new tunnels: the Lötschberg, Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels.