Practically speaking, the tunnel shortens the distance between Zürich and Milan by up to 45 minutes, with 220-260 trains per day roaring through at up to 250 kilometres per hour. There will be passenger trains every two hours, and lorry traffic on the roads will certainly decrease. The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest worldwide; it has no gradients and runs beneath rock 2300 metres high, from Erstfeld in the north to Bodio in Ticino, the Italian- speaking Swiss canton.
Today, all the narratives and myths intersect with the high-speed trains and outstanding engineering. In terms of perception and representation, the Gotthard landscape has constantly transformed over the centuries into a natural-artificial region. Several paradigm shifts accompany this development and clearly mark the different cultural understandings and technological capabilities. The recently published Gotthard compendium edited by Marianne Burkhalter and Christian Sumi, based on a research project at Accademia di Architettura in Mendrisio (in cooperation with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich), explores those shifts by means of historical sources and their significance and relevance to the perception. The proliferation of alien plant species and the new topographies made up of excavated stones from the various tunnels over the centuries are only two of the many directions the book follows. Other essays address the question of the cultural understanding of nature and the appropriation of the Alpine landscape, with a look to the influences of the technical prospects.