The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the world’s longest railway tunnel and Switzerland’s most expensive public works project ever. The project broke many records and was supported by Hilti.

The digital speedometer needle pauses at a speed of 170 kilometers per hour. The speed on the first day is relatively leisurely. While Camillo Censi doesn’t see much of the work he was responsible for on this day, the emergency lights that roll by illuminate a smile on his face. “I’m proud to have been a part of it. It’s a great feeling to drive through the finished tunnel after almost nine years of work.”  

At peak times some 2600 workers were busy on this architectural masterpiece and Camillo Censi is one of them. Both of the tunnel’s one-way tubes are 57 kilometers in length. With Hilti’s help, Camillo Censi’s 100-person team was responsible for fastening rails and installing cable ducts along a ten-kilometer tunnel stretch. With 150 combihammers workers drilled more than 30,000 holes into the Saint Gotthard Massif, and everything went according to plan. “We couldn’t afford delays at these construction sites which is why service was of vital importance,” says the engineer. The product quality allowed the site manager to work along the route worry-free and safely. This is why Camillo Censi placed the highest priority on high-quality tools. 

The tunnel links the German- and Italian-speaking regions of Switzerland, from Erstfeld in the north to Bodio in the south and has almost no gradient, meaning that trains can travel through the tunnel at speeds of up to 250 kilometers per hour. Above the tunnel is an overburden of rock reaching as high as 2300 meters, greater than anywhere else in the world. Hilti construction solutions were required for emergency precautions. “People travelling through this tunnel by train will be safe. What we installed was one contribution to this,” says Martino Incarbone, Regional Sales Manager with Hilti Switzerland. Emergency lights and safety railing were fastened to concrete with Hilti anchors. 

Camillo Censi is already working on his next tunnel project, the Ceneri Base Tunnel, which is 15.4 kilometers long and runs between Camorino and Lugano in the Swiss canton of Ticino. It is scheduled to open in 2020, when Camillo Censi plans on taking another train ride through a new tunnel.  

Statement of the customer

“We couldn’t afford delays at these construction sites which is why service was of vital importance.”​

Camillo Censi
Railway Engineering Management, Censi Group