Porta Alpina (from Romansh, "Alpine Gate") was a proposed railway station to be located in the middle of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, serving the Alpine village of Sedrun in Switzerland. Intended to promote tourism and the economy in the region of Graubünden, the project was put on hold as uneconomical in 2007, and then indefinitely shelved by the Swiss authorities in 2012. The current multifunction station is only used for emergency stops and maintenance. The portal lies 800 metres above the tunnel.
Porta Alpina would have been by far the deepest underground train station in the world at 800 metres underground, outclassing by far Arsenalna Metro station at 105.5 metres. It would also have connected the high-Alpine village of Sedrun and the Surselva to a major high-speed line from northern to southern Europe. The current station, along with Faido, is one of the two multifunction stations of the tunnel.
The multifunction station is located near a crossover between the northbound and southbound tunnels and is linked to the surface by the world's highest elevator, using 800-metre tall shafts and a one kilometre long access tunnel, exiting over the Anterior Rhine, south of Sedrun. This access was used for the construction of the tunnel and is now an emergency exit of the tunnel. Construction costs for a fully functional passenger station were estimated at 40-50 million Swiss francs, with annual operating costs of 2.5 million francs. It was initially projected to be opened in 2016 after the Base Tunnel was scheduled to come into service.
Proponents of Porta Alpina viewed it both as a potential tourist attraction in its own right, and as a useful transport link to assist the economically challenged Graubünden region. The station would have connected the North/South Gotthard railway line with the East/West Rhaetian Railway/Matterhorn-Gotthard Railway, which would link to the elevator by means of local buses to Sedrun station (MGB) and Disentis station (RhB). This was to have been the fastest public transport link between Zürich and the canton of Graubünden.
The project was initially positively received, and the Swiss parliament approved CHF 7.5 million of startup funding in 2005. However, further studies indicated substantial problems including the questionable feasibility of the elevators, the negative impact on tunnel rail capacity and the unprofitability of the whole enterprise. The Swiss Federal Council and the government of the canton of Graubünden announced in September 2007 that the project was put on indefinite hold.
Following renewed interest by private investors in 2012, the Federal Council decided to forgo construction for the time being, while leaving open the possibility of a similar project being implemented by a later generation. A government report stated that the Porta Alpina would have reduced the base tunnel's freight capacity (unless a passing loop would be built, at a large cost for additional tunneling) and would have been uneconomical to operate, requiring CHF 9 million of annual public subsidies.
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- Visiun Porta Alpina, project website
- Shafy, Samiha. Elevator to the Underworld Der Spiegel, 31 December 2006. Retrieved: 17 September 2010.
- "Funding approval elevates world's longest lift". swissinfo. 13 December 2005. Retrieved 15 October 2010.
- "World's longest lift put on hold". Swissinfo with agencies. September 13, 2007.
- "Plans revived for world's deepest train station". The Local. 9 Feb 2012.
- "Bundesrat bestätigt vorläufigen Verzicht auf die Porta Alpina". Press release, Swiss federal authorities. 16 May 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2014.