The first train – an International Cargo in transit from Germany to Italy – passed through the Monte Ceneri base tunnel at 11:34 am Friday morning. The inauguration ceremony took place at the north portal of the tube, in Camorino (TI), in the presence of Simonetta Sommaruga.
The President of the Confederation proceeded to cut the ribbon. Immediately afterwards, CFF CEO Vincent Ducrot and Alptransit Dieter Schwank gave the convoy the green light.
This symbolic moment was the highlight of the festivities which began at 11:00 am with a speech by Ms. Sommaruga, who arrived there with the Ticino Federal Councilor Ignazio Cassis on board a train from Bellinzona.
In honor of her Ticino origins – the Sommaruga family is bourgeois from Lugano – the President of the Confederation began her speech in Italian, recalling the summers of her childhood spent in the region of Bellinzona: “It took forever to reach the Lido ( editor’s note: from Lugano) while with the new tunnel the journey from Bellinzona to Lugano lasts only 15 minutes, less than from my home to my office “.
A visionary work
The Socialist Minister of Transport recalled that for a long time in Ticino, Monte Ceneri divided the canton not only geographically but also socially and politically. She did not forget to recall the two workers who lost their lives during the work, concluding her speech with these words: “Long live the train, long live Ticino, long live Switzerland”!
For his part, the head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) Ignazio Cassis retraced the main lines of the history of the Alpine crossings, this “visionary work thought for the first time in 1947”.
He recalled that the Gothard “unites Switzerland but that the Monte Ceneri unites Ticino”, bringing together “the reign of Marco Borradori, the mayor of Lugano, to that of Mario Brando, the mayor of Bellinzona” and that he will also allow to jump quickly from one cultural event to another, such as from Estival Jazz de Lugano to the Film Festival in Locarno.
The Federal Councilor did not fail to underline the importance of the tunnel at the international level: “This futuristic work strengthens our belonging to the European continent, a fundamental basin for our well-being.”
The President of the Ticino State Council Norman Gobbi, for his part, welcomed the importance of the achievement for the mobility of his canton. The Monte Ceneri tunnel, which will actually come into operation on December 13, will make Ticino “a large city made up of important districts divided between Sopra and Sottoceneri and will play an important role between northern and southern Europe.”
“Switzerland is one step ahead”
In addition, during an interview with the Radio-Television of Italian Switzerland (RSI) Simonetta Sommaruga praised the efforts of Switzerland to transfer freight traffic from road to rail. She hoped for further efforts and called on Germany to do more.
“Switzerland has a head start in this area,” said Ms. Sommaruga to the RSI microphones, “we have not only spoken, but have acted and we have done for the protection of the environment, for the climate”.
“It is now time for our neighbors, Italy and Germany to act,” continued the President of the Confederation. “As far as Italy is concerned, things are going quite well, Germany on the other hand is late. Last year I spoke with my counterpart and we reached an agreement to improve the situation.” .
Simonetta Sommaruga added that there is still to be done in Switzerland too, at the political level, to continue promoting the transfer of freight transport from road to rail. “We are going to take measures in this direction and continue the dialogue with the associations of truckers,” she added.