Furka Base Tunnel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Furka Base Tunnel
Furka Base Tunnel (14874307175).jpg
Tunnel near the Realp portal
LineFurka Oberalp Bahn
LocationValais / Uri, Switzerland
Coordinates46°32′7″N 8°27′12″E / 46.53528°N 8.45333°E / 46.53528; 8.45333Coordinates: 46°32′7″N 8°27′12″E / 46.53528°N 8.45333°E / 46.53528; 8.45333
SystemMatterhorn Gotthard Bahn
StartOberwald, Valais, Switzerland
EndRealp, Uri, Switzerland
Opened25 June 1982 (1982-06-25)
OwnerMatterhorn Gotthard Bahn
OperatorMatterhorn Gotthard Bahn
CharacterPassenger and freight
Length15.4 km (9.6 mi)
Line length15.4 km (9.6 mi)
No. of tracksSingle track
Track gauge1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge
ElectrifiedOverhead catenary,
11 kV AC 16 2/3 Hz
Highest elevation1,564 m (5,131 ft)
above the Sea
Lowest elevation1,390 m (4,560 ft)
Route map
41.3 Oberwald
Oberwald deviation tunnel
59 m
60 m
Furka Base Tunnel entrance
47.2 Geren
(crossing loop)
Furka Base Tunnel
15,442 m
<< Bedretto ventilation tunnel
53.0 Rotondo
(crossing loop)
Furka Base Tunnel exit
59.4 Realp

The Furka Base Tunnel is a Swiss railway base tunnel on the Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn's Furka–Oberalp line, a west-east railway connecting the cantons of Valais and Uri. Its west portal lies east of Oberwald (VS), at 1,390 m (4,560 ft) above sea level and its east portal lies south of Realp (UR), at 1,550 m (5,090 ft). The base tunnel is 15,407 m (50,548 ft) in length, and replaced the previous track that climbed to an apex of 2,160 m (7,090 ft) above sea level, thus allowing year-round service through service on the Furka–Oberalp line. The old line has been reopened by the Furka Heritage Railway for tourist trains which pass the Furka Pass via the 1.8 km (1.1 mi) long Furka Summit Tunnel.[1]

In the middle of the base tunnel, is a small access tunnel from Bedretto in the canton of Ticino (1,480 m (4,860 ft)).[2]

The Furka Base Tunnel is completed by a bypass tunnel around Oberwald.


Prior to the opening of the base tunnel, the high-level route closed during the winter months because of heavy snowfall, and large sections of the overhead electrical lines had to be dismantled. In 1976, the Parliament of Switzerland passed a bill for its construction, sponsored by Roger Bonvin, following an initial cost estimate of 76 million francs despite difficult geology.[citation needed]

The construction costs, however, had been deliberately lowballed to procure parliamentary support,[3] and quickly rose to exceed 300 million Francs. The political fighting surrounding the cost overruns are said to have contributed to Roger Bonvin's ill health toward the end of the project and he died just before its opening in 1982. A plaque commemorating Roger Bonvin is installed as the base tunnel's entrance in Oberwald.[citation needed]

In its initial year of operation, the base tunnel was used to transport more than 75,000 passenger cars, trucks and buses. Currently, it also serves both an hourly regional train and ten daily Glacier Express trains between Zermatt and the ski resort town of St. Moritz. During the winter skiing season, traffic in the tunnel consistently approaches maximum capacity.[citation needed]

Oberwald bypass tunnel (1366 m a.s.l.)
West portal (1390 m a.s.l.)
East portal (1550 m a.s.l.)
Bedretto window (1480 m a.s.l.)


  1. ^ Eisenbahnatlas Schweiz. Verlag Schweers + Wall GmbH. 2012. p. 34. ISBN 978-3-89494-130-7.
  2. ^ Die Furka-Basislinie Oberwald-Realp, Schweizer Ingenieur und Architekt
  3. ^ Wyss, Max (2019/03/05). Comment on Levy, Alon (2019/03/03). "Why American Costs are So High (Work-in-Progress)". Pedestrian Observations. "Switzerland had its famous example: the Furka base tunnel (part of the Glacier Express route). Its costs were deliberately downplayed, because otherwise, the project would not have passed parliament."

External links[edit]