CENERI Opening Ceremony

Bern, 04.09.2020 - Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation

(Check against delivery)

Federal Councillor, dear Ignazio

President of the Cantonal Council

President of the Council of States

Mr Schwank, Mr Ducrot

Dear representatives of the Ticino delegation

Dear guests

As a child I spent almost all of my holidays in Ticino – in Bellinzona in fact, so in the ‘Sopraceneri’ – even though my family is originally from Lugano in the ‘Sottoceneri’.

Not that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself in Lugano, on the contrary. I can still remember the path to the lido, even now! But the journey over the mountain, the Monte Ceneri, seemed to take an age. Monte Ceneri separated many people here in this canton, not only geographically, but also socially.

Now North and South are coming closer together. Instead of going over the mountain, we can go through the mountain. Thanks to the Ceneri base tunnel the canton now has an attractive urban railway. Anyone wanting to travel from Bellinzona to Lugano now only has a 15-minute trip. That’s less time than it takes me to get from my home to the office…

Thanks to the urban railway, commuting in Ticino is now simple, comfortable and attractive. The Ceneri base tunnel strengthens public transport – and strengthens the canton.

It connects the country and its people. And it brings Switzerland closer together.

In the early 1990s, the people of Switzerland took a brave and farsighted decision. And it did so again in adopting the Alpine Initiative: freight traffic travelling across the Alps belongs on the rails. That’s the only way we can protect our beautiful and precious Alps.

That provided the impetus for an intelligent policy to transfer freight traffic from road to rail that we can still be proud of today. Indeed, many countries are envious of us. And even while we are savouring this moment, we are looking ahead to the future. We have already decided on the next set of measures. Because we have not yet met our goals in terms of transferring freight traffic; there’s more that we can do – and we’re doing it.

But today we are here to celebrate. We are celebrating the Ceneri, which together with the Gotthard and the Lötschberg, forms the core of the most important rail corridor between the North Sea and the Mediterranean.

When I look around, I can see another special feature. A local pointed out to me that one of the many pillars of the railway viaduct is known as ‘La Ballerina’. You wouldn’t necessarily understand why unless you look closely.

It is actually somewhat thinner than the others and it has a slight twist in it. The reason that this particular pillar has a twist is so that later generations can build a further access route to the Ceneri. Smart, farsighted, proactive: that’s how we intend to continue shaping our transport policy. Just as we did with the NRLA.

Ladies and gentlemen

The Ceneri tunnel shows what we can achieve if we all work together!

A great number of people have been involved in realising this edifice over the years. We greatly appreciate all their efforts.

Two people lost their lives in the process. Today we remember them and our thoughts are with their families.

On behalf of the Federal Council, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to all those who have played a part in the construction of this tunnel, in particular my predecessors. They have all worked wonders – for Ticino, for our country, and for the environment.

The NRLA is an epic achievement.

It is a source of pride, and it makes our country strong.

Viva il treno, viva il Ticino, viva la Svizzera!

Address for enquiries

Communication DETEC, +41 58 462 55 11


General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications; General Secretariat DETEC

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