European goods transport sees increasing volumes of freight being carried by articulated lorries with semi-trailers of 4-metre corner height. These lorries can carry more freight per journey than the usual, lower semi-trailers. Their proportion in the volume of traffic is therefore growing continuously. Semi-trailers with a 4-metre corner height can already be loaded onto trains and carried as combined transport over the Lötschberg route. On the Gotthard route, the new base tunnels through the Gotthard and Ceneri are already 4-metre capable; however, various tunnels, platform roofs and other facilities on the access routes are not.
In 2013 the Swiss Parliament therefore approved the Federal Council’s proposal to build a 4-metre corridor on the Gotthard route, and approved a credit of CHF 990 million for this. The Federal Council is reckoning with the 4-metre corridor on the Gotthard substantially strengthening the modal shift effect on the two NRLA routes – Lötschberg and Gotthard. In parallel to the NRLA, the 4-metre corridor will be completed by the end of 2020.
The main task is the adaption of about 20 tunnel objects with insufficient height on the access routes to the Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels, and to remove obstacles on the open stretches, such as signalling equipment, platform roofs and traction current systems etc. The largest individual measure is the new construction of the Bözberg tunnel. So that the 4-metre corridor can achieve its full impact, it must also be possible to transport the semi-trailers by rail beyond the Swiss frontier, as far as the terminals to the east and west of Milan. This requires extensions in Italy as well, to be concluded by the end of 2020. Because they are very much in Switzerland’s interests, the extensions on the Luino line in Italy are financed by Switzerland. The extensions on the line between Chiasso and Milan are paid for by Italy.