Porta Alpina – a railway station beneath The Alps

I’ve written about a number of railway stations located deep beneath mountain ranges before, and here is another one – Porta Alpina, which was to be located in the middle of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland.

The proposal

Porta Alpina station would have served the Alpine village of Sedrun in Switzerland.

The location selected was the site of a ventilation shaft, located near a crossover between the northbound and southbound tunnels.

A platform would have been located on each track.

And access to the surface would be via a 800 metre deep lift shaft, connected to a 1 km long access tunnel.

The station was proposed as both a potential tourist attraction, and as a transport link to areas around Sedrun, with the Swiss parliament approved CHF 7.5M of startup funding in 2005.

However, further studies raised concerns about the feasibility of the elevators, the negative impact on rail capacity through the tunnel, and the cost of operating the station. The project was put on hold as uneconomical in 2007, and then indefinitely shelved in 2012.

And what got built

Never the less, the emergency platform, crossover and exhaust shaft at Sedrun was completed as part of the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Along with emergency exits.

Fire doors that weigh 700 kilograms – strong enough to resist a temperature of 200°C for 45 minutes.

And four caverns for future waiting rooms – each a 38 metres long, 10 metres wide and 5.5 metres tall.

The whole complex was opened to the public in 2016.

BZ Berner Zeitung photo

Who reached the station by special train.

Footnote: a visit to Porta Alpina station

A Wikipedian posted a trip report from the 2016 open day online.

After 17 years of construction, the Gotthard Base Tunnel was opened in 2016. An opportunity for our group to take a close look at the construction of the century. The SBB offered special trips with the special train “Gottardino” through the tunnel, stopping at the Sedrun emergency stop and an exhibition in the side tunnel.

On Sunday, November 20th, the three of us set out on a journey across Switzerland. Decorated with a white locomotive with the inscription “Gottardo 2016” we were welcomed as “pioneers”. The special trips are very popular, the train was fully booked even though it was a booster train that was used at short notice.

At 2:20 p.m. we left Flüelen in the direction of the Gotthard base tunnel. On the way there was information about the tunnel and the operating concept. The express trains are accelerated to 200 km/h on the route near Rynächt. At Altdorf, freight trains are stopped before entering the tunnel and collected while passenger trains pass. Up to three freight trains then enter the tunnel behind a passenger train. The tunnel is approved for a speed of up to 249 km/h, passenger trains are to run at 200 km/h and freight trains at up to 160 km/h.

After just a few minutes we reached the Sedrun emergency stop at km 21, where the train stopped and we got off shortly afterwards and were able to look around the tunnel system for 45 minutes. An exhibition was prepared, there was a video presentation of the construction and opening of the tunnel, a lot of information and a stamp in the “pioneer pass” that the SBB had issued to the passengers.

The temperature in the mountain was around 32 °C. Due to the natural draft, the air was pleasantly dry. An employee told us that during construction the temperatures were higher and, due to the reduced ventilation and water leakage, the humidity was very high, so that the climate was uncomfortably humid and warm. If the natural ventilation provided by the chimney effect and the piston effect of the flues is not sufficient, fresh air can be blown in through the access tunnels in Sedrun and Faido. Exhaust air ducts were installed in the tunnel ceiling above the driving tubes in the area of ​​the emergency stops, another tunnel system with a diameter of several meters. In an emergency, smoke can be extracted from the driving tube via this exhaust air tunnel.

In the event of an accident in the tunnel, both tunnel tubes will be closed. An evacuation train is provided in the “healthy tube” into which passengers can change through cross passages between the tubes. In addition, trains can stop at the Sedrun and Faido emergency stops and evacuate their passengers in side tunnels. There is an escape route through the side tunnels to the multifunction stations in Sedrun and Faido. The walking distances from the end of the side tunnel or the emergency stops to the multifunction stations are almost 2 km. An evacuation through the access tunnels to the multifunction stations is not planned.

After the tour through the side tunnels of the Sedrun emergency stop, we continued in the Gottardino. After about ten minutes we reached the second emergency stop, at the Faido multifunction station. As under Sedrun, there is also a high-speed switch and a connecting tunnel between the two driving tubes, so that it is possible to change tracks in the tunnel.


Liked it? Take a second to support Marcus Wong on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!
This entry was posted in Housekeeping and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *