Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Road tips 9 - Swiss motorway A2 and Gotthard Tunnel

Came this way today heading north from Italy to the Frankfurt motor show. The A2 is interesting in its own right - a very large percentage of it runs in tunnels or over high Alpine bridges, but the centre-piece is the single-bore, single carriageway Gotthard Tunnel, which runs for over ten miles.

Driving such a long distance in a tunnel can be a bit disorientating. It makes you wonder whether a road tunnel under the Channel would ever have been a practical proposition - from the driving point of view, that is, quite apart from the technical and financial obstacles.

Opinion has apparently turned against completing the originally planned second bore; the Swiss resent their country being used just as a transit route between Germany and points south. This brings pollution but few economic benefits, despite the 'Vignette' flat-rate toll system imposed on visitors.

On Friday, I also did the Arlberg tunnel in Austria on the S16; that's almost as long as the Gotthard (14km as opposed to 16.4km) but less well known.

Why recommend the A2 and the Gotthard Tunnel? Well the engineering is deeply impressive, so they are worth seeing for that reason alone. They also save a lot of time compared with going over the Gotthard pass, although that could be an interesting experience in itself. Haven't been that way recently enough to comment.

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