Zurich Process


Description of the axis

Economic activity and tourism generate significant flows of traffic between the north and south side of the Alps. Since antiquity the Great St. Bernard pass has played a significant role in the relationship between northern and southern Europe by linking the towns of Martigny and Turin. Today, a tunnel located at an elevation of 1915 metres continues to connect Europe via this centuries-old transalpine road.

Construction work began in 1958 in Italy, and commenced shortly thereafter on the Swiss side.

The tunnel, the access roads on both sides, and the two offices located near the tunnel mouths which house the operational units in charge of the infrastructure, customs formalities and police controls, were officially opened on 19 March 1964. The Great St. Bernard tunnel was thus the first transalpine tunnel open to vehicle traffic.

The road tunnel is owned by a joint Italian-Swiss company which both built and operates it. It is the only structure in Switzerland to be financed entirely from toll fees.

Engineering structures include the following:

  • Culverts: 18
  • Bridges: 39
  • Half-bridges: 21
  • Cantilever structures: 02
  • Galleries and tunnels: 48
  • Other structures: 10

Access to the tunnel

The Great St. Bernard tunnel is 5,798 metres long and houses a single carriageway. The entrance on the southern, Italian, side is situated 1,875 metres above sea level, the tunnel mouth at the northern, Swiss, side, 1,918 metres above sea level. Both the infrastructure and the traffic passing through the Great St. Bernard tunnel are managed from two control centres, South and North, located at the respective tunnel mouths. All information about the various installations and alarm systems, as well as any emergency calls, are centralized in the offices, which are manned 24 hours a day.

Access to the tunnel is facilitated by a wide road with a manageable gradient. Starting at a certain elevation access roads on both sides are covered by concrete roofs which protect against any type of weather. On the Italian side, the access road is 9,900 metres long. The covered section, which is 6,150 metres long, directly leads into the tunnel and includes a variety of facilities and a parking area. On the Swiss side the covered road is 5,750 metres long.