The last section for the new railway link through the alps the Ceneri Base Tunnel (CBT). There are still 1000 days to go before the timetable changes in December 2020. What improvements will the new timetable bring? The Canton of Ticino, which has ordered the Bretella connection, will then only need 30 minutes for the travel from Locarno to Lugano. This corresponds to a halving of the travel time compared to the current journey. But the CBT will offer even more benefits for operators and train passengers.
From the 2020 timetable change, up to 216 passenger trains and 170 freight trains will pass through the Ceneri Base Tunnel every day. This will result in a considerable densification of the Ticino S-Bahn. The changes in the TILO concept from the commissioning CBT will lead to a quantum leap in public transport in Ticino. It can be assumed that additional trains will soon be running. A strong increase in passengers is expected between Sottoceneri (Lugano) and Sopraceneri (Bellinzona). In the medium term – according to the ideas of the Canton of Ticino – a ¼-h interval between Bellinzona and Locarno is to be expected.
Cross-border services will be intensified. The Ticino and Lombardia suburban railways will grow together more and more. It is therefore possible that foreign rolling stock will also be used.
Furthermore, the operator intends to achieve the biggest possible homogeneity of the travel speed of various train types in the CBT. The minimum speed required by the Federal Office of Transport (FOT) is 80 km/h. Freight trains will normally travel at a minimum speed of 100 km/h. The speed of intercity trains in CBT will normally be 200 km/h. During operation, the Vmax 250 km/h can be used to gain travel time where trains need to catch up a delay. With regard to headway times, the minimum operational headway required by the FOT applies, which is calculated using the worst braking train and will thus amount to 3 minutes between freight trains at v = 120 km/h (each l = 750 m, 1600 t).
The new interlocking system will ensure that the specified improvements are achieved. The detail planning has been completed and is currently undergoing the planning approval procedure at the FOT. The first data preparation was set up, approved by the safety-oriented testing (SIOP) and was tested in the Ceneri laboratory (CLAB) at the company location in Friesenberg.
The next project activities until summer 2018 include the integration of the traffic management system and tunnel automation system in the CLAB, system tests in the CLAB, the preparation of documentation for the cable distributors on the track, the sample installation of balises, marker boards, axle counters and point light signals at three locations.