Gotthard – back to our roots

The story of Sika's successful evolution into a global player began almost 100 years ago with a tunnel project at the very same location, the Gotthard. By providing a waterproofing solution for electrification of the rail tunnel in 1918, Sika not only ensured smooth operation of the north-south rail corridor, but also laid the foundations for Sika's worldwide success. The Gotthard base tunnel posed similar challenges to those of 1918, but also completely new ones: apart from the sheer scale of the project, one particular problem that stretched the tunnel engineers to their limits was to find ways of coping with the high underground temperatures of 30-40°C. The materials and equipment used on this unique project were also subject to tough requirements, one key issue being the specified 100-year concrete service life.

People building for people

As the world's longest rail tunnel, the Gotthard base tunnel forms the centerpiece of the new transalpine rail route (NEAT). It embodies the Swiss values of innovation, precision and reliability. These values – upheld at all levels with pride, satisfaction and in a true spirit of partnership by Sika's project team throughout the 14-year construction period and, even before that, during the preliminary phase from 1996 – have helped to cement the success of this once-in-a-lifetime project. The Gotthard base tunnel is an impressive demonstration of how Sika builds with and for people.

The 57 km-long structure is both a novelty and a tour-de-force in tunnel engineering. It is the longest rail tunnel in the world and passes through one of the highest Alpine massifs. The rock overburden under the tallest summits runs to around 2,000 meters and, even at its highest point, the tunnel is still only some 550 meters above sea level. The new rail section will reduce the time that massive freight and modern high-speed trains need to travel from Zurich to Milan by around one hour.