23 September 2021
On the Gotthard Express
Today we leave Lugano, which is on the Southern border of Switzerland by Italy and head for Lucerne (or Lucerne as the Swiss spell it) in the middle of the country.
For our trip, we boarded the train in Lugano and got off Fluelen, where we transferred to a boat for the rest of the trip to Lucerne.
To get there we will be taking the Gotthard Panorama Express, which crosses the Alps under Gotthard Pass
For centuries, the direct route from Southern Europe to Northern Europe was through the Gotthard Pass, which was available only in the summer months. In the 1870’s, the Swiss decided to tunnel under this pass, and after 11 years of work and countless hundreds of deaths, opened this 15 KM (9 mile) long tunnel. In addition, the route contains an additional 44 tunnels and 23 bridges of notable significance. In a couple of instances, they had to gain a couple of hundred meters in elevation (650 feet) in a short distance. The solution was to build a circular tunnel inside the mountain! In short, while the scenery is awesome, the engineering to build this with the technology available in the 1880s is really amazing. Today, there are three ways to cross the Gotthard pass, by car on a highway that covers the distance, by rail as we did, or by the new rail tunnel which is 53 KM (30 some miles) long through solid rock. Sit back and enjoy our journey.