The effects of the San Gottardo Base Tunnel System on the transformation of cross-border land and its contribution to a more circular economy
Authors: Zaira Tello
Abstract: The San Gotthard railway base tunnel, located in Switzerland, connects the cities of Ersfeld with Bodio, has an extension of 57 km, and was inaugurated in June 2016. Its construction has generated an integral system, with the purpose of achieving efficient operation. These types of projects generate permanent transformations in urban environments and landscape. Without long-term articulated policies, directed only at economic competitiveness or national development, and leaving aside policies for protecting the environment and strengthening existing infrastructures and intermodal transport, run the risk of being political instruments that devastate the territories where they are implanted.The first project of the San Gotthard base tunnel dates back to 1961, since that date a number of variants have been made to the project in relation to the financing plan, routes, connections, commercial strategies, capacity for transporting people and merchandise, works compensation, among others. At the time the final project was finalized, the intervention of the confederation at different scales was fundamental, generating a set of actions and international agreements that are part of the so-called "Gothard System", adopting measures with a wide variety of areas and among them reveals that it is possible to execute an adequate policy of managing the waste generated by the construction of the tunnel and of transferring merchandise traffic from road to rail through the Swiss Alps.The Gotthard Base Tunnel is considered the longest in the world; it took 17 years to build and thousands of workers to complete. It is part of the European Rhine-Alps rail freight traffic corridor, which runs from the cities of Rotterdam and Zeebrugge in the Netherlands to the Italian city of Genoa. This transport and logistics infrastructure is essential for the correct development of this commercial and communication corridor, the complexity of its operation reaches different scales: transnational, national, multilateral, regional and subnational.The purpose of this study is to develop an approach that shows the experience in Switzerland and the effects of the construction of the San Gotthard base tunnel in the creation of complementary works, such as agricultural and environmental compensations, projects that enhance the intermodal system. Three levels of analysis were identified that involve the cities located in Switzerland and Italy. At the Milan-Zurich metropolitan level, Mendrisio-Stabio-Arcisate-Varese-Gallarate cross-border level, and at the local level the Swiss cantons of Ticino, Uri and Grigioni. Additionally, a brief comparative analysis is carried out with the future base tunnel that will link the French city of Lyon with the Italian city of Turin, in order to identify some of the effects produced by the construction of the San Gotthard base tunnel on the border between Switzerland and the north of Italy.
Keywords: infrastructure, development, environment, railway, efficiency, and environmental compensations, policies
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