I wondered as I wandered through the Gottardo Pass

Eighth wonder of the world?

During a drive through the Gottardo Pass this week, which is at 2,106m above sea level – I got to thinking about the word ‘wonder’ (well I was driving for several hours), and was thinking about its two meanings: the noun – a feeling of amazement or awe and the verb – to be curious or question something.
Well, I was certainly in awe of the beautiful mountains that were all around me and the incredible views, but I was also wondering how on earth the different generations of engineers had the courage to tackle this huge mass of rock that forms an obstacle between the northern and southern parts of Switzerland. From the so-called Devils Bridge, which was built in 1830 to span the Schoellenen Gorge to the first rail tunnel built in 1882, which cuts through 15 kilometers of sheer rock. And now there is an even greater feat. I now stand in wonder at the incredible 57.091 kilometer rail tunnel, the world’s longest and deepest, which along with two shorter tunnels, one near Zurich and another near Lugano, will knock a full hour off the 3 hour and 40 min journey from Zurich to Milan.
Due to the official opening of the Gottardo Tunnel two weeks ago, I watched ABB’s documentary, which takes you through old black and white film footage of the original tunnel.

This really brings home what incredible feats of engineering both the old tunnel and the new tunnel are and how important these infrastructure project are for current generations and future generations to come.

I think that driving over the pass and then through the pass is an excellent way to get a feel for the scale of what has been achieved. As you concentrate on staying between the lines in the 17 km road tunnel, you can consider what it takes to power the 57 kilometer rail tunnel – not only the ventilation system, but the full range of low- and medium-voltage solutions, which come from my business – the Electrification Products division.

Two electrifying stories from the Gotthard

1. ABB cable protection for the world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel
2. ABB electrifies the Gotthard Base Tunnel
So as I wander over and through the pass, I’m not just in awe at the beauty of the scenery, but also in wonder at our clever ABB engineers who have been involved in so many elements of this incredible engineering project.

I look forward with excitement to the full commissioning of the tunnel in December, when the first trains will begin to pass beneath, shaving an incredible 45 minutes off the journey for this section alone.

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About the author

Lynette Jackson

Lynette Jackson, is head of communications for the Electrification Products division of ABB. She has worked in the engineering and technology sector for many years and is interested in how organizations can mitigate their impact on the environment and make a difference with their innovations.
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