Zurich Process


Description of the axis

Inaugurated in 1965, the Mont Blanc Tunnel is an international communication link between France and Italy that has decided importance for economic, social and cultural relations at the European level. The tunnel has a fundamental role in promoting the development of tourism and exchanges between the valleys of Courmayeur and Chamonix.

Main features

  • Length: 11.6 km
  • Width at the base: 8.6 m
  • Width of the carriageway: 7m
  • Altitude of the entrance aprons: 1274 m (France) and 1381 m (Italy)
  • Maximum altitude: 1395.5 m (halfway through the tunnel)
  • Vertical thickness of the rock: over 2 km (along more than half its length)
  • Crossing time: 12 minutes at 60 km/hr


1946: A hundred metres are drilled on the Italian side, marking the project start.

1947: Franco-Italian Agreement signed for the planning of a tunnel under Mont Blanc.

1953: Signature of a national charter for the tunnel construction, ratified by the parliaments of France (in 1954, by 544 votes against 32) and Italy (in 1957).

1957: Formation of the STMB (Societe du tunnel du Mont Blanc), which became ATMB (Autoroutes et Tunnel du Mont Blanc) in 1996.

1959: In May, the French and Italian Public Works Ministers officially launch the drilling work. On 30 May in Chamonix, a ceremony is held for the start of the drilling work for the Mont Blanc Tunnel in the presence of the Public Minister for Labour. It is announced that a giant 75-tonne (74 LT; 83 ST) tunnel boring machine will make it possible to bore the tunnel in less than 30 months.

4 August 1962: Meeting of the French and Italian drilling teams. The opening was successful, the axis variation was less than 13 centimetres.

16 July 1965: Inauguration of the tunnel by the French president, Charles de Gaulle, and the Italian President, Giuseppe Saragat.

19 July 1965: Tunnel opens to traffic.

1999: following the well-known accident of 24 March, the tunnel is closed to traffic

2002: the tunnel is reopened to traffic after a 3-years period of works. According to the decision of the two responsible Governments, the unitary management of the tunnel is entrusted to the GEIE-TMB, a legal entity set up under EU law and consisting equally of the two national concessionary companies of the tunnel, the Italian SITMB and the French ATMB.