What is the Gotthard Traffic Jam?
The Gotthard Tunnel Traffic Jam is a traffic jam that will occur over 150 days per year in front of the North Entrance to the Gotthard tunnel in the direction to Italy/Canton Ticion Switzerland and over 180 days per year in front of the Gotthard Tunnel South Entrance. The Gotthard Tunnel in Switzerland is a very important transportation route for both trains and vehicles between northern and southern Europe. It ensures the crossing of the Swiss Alps between the municipalities of Göschenen in canton Uri and Airolo in canton Ticino. The Gotthard Tunnel Road was opened for traffic on September 5th 1980. If traffic flows smoothly at 80 km per hours through the tunnel it will take about 13 mins from entry to exit. There is no road toll charged.
What causes the traffic jam at the Gotthard Tunnel?
The main reason of the traffic jam is the overload of cars driving either south or north. In the tunnel itself there is only one single lane in either directions on a length of 16.9 km. The maximum speed in the tunnel is 80 km while on the highway it is 120 km. The maximum capacity of the tunnel is 1200 cars in one direction and thefore not more than 28 800 cars per day can pass. This overload occurs mainly when the swiss cantons have their school holidays. The worst traffic jam can occur on Eastern and during the summer holidays. Accidents are not the main cause for the traffic jam. Especially in summer time the traffic overload is driven not only by the Swiss cantons on school holiday but as well by other European countries mainly Germany that are heading south or are returning back north.
The traffic jam can easily reach over 10 km on a Saturday in front of the north portal and on the south portal as well on a Sunday. The longest traffic jam in 2019 was 18 km. The waiting time can easily reach up to 4-5 hours. The traffic jam sometimes can continue for more than one day. In average the waiting time is 10 minutes per 1 km traffic jam for the south-bound traffic and more than 15 mins per 1 km for the north bound traffic. During holiday traffic on Saturday, 18.07.2020 as an example it took the author of this post 45 min for around 6 km traffic jam towards south. The traffic jam started just at the beginning of the Galerie Ripplistal. The average speed in the tunnel was 60 kmh instead of the allowed 80 kmh.
Please note that it is forbidden to get out of the car while the traffic is on standstill because of the danger of motorcycles and emergency vehicles that might be passing between cars. While it is forbidden to leave the car during traffic standstill, however brief toilet stops on the mergency lane are usually tolerated. Just be aware of motorcycles or emergency vehicles.https://lenews.ch/2017/07/17/avoiding-long-queues-at-gotthard-tunnel/. Also note that it is illegal to drive on the emergency lane even if you need to reach the next exit urgently!
Driving through the Gotthard tunnel:
What Live Traffic Webcams are Before and After the Gotthard Tunnel / Traffic at Gotthard Tunnel ?
A list of live traffic webcams before and after the Gotthard tunnel:
Coming from Italy and driving towards the South Entrance of the Gotthard Tunnel in the canton of Ticino there are plenty of live traffic webcams along the highway A2. Below you have a screenshot of the galery view of the live traffic webcams at https://www4.ti.ch/dt/temi/webcam/tema/tema/?no_cache=1 :
Further webcams in Göschenen:
What Alternatives Routes are there for Bypassing the Gotthard Tunnel?
There are alternative routes through Switzerland to circumvent the traffic jam at the Gotthard tunnel, Please see as well: https://swissxover.com/gotthard-tunnel-traffic/gotthard-tunnel-alternative-routes/
Year on year the traffic jam is increasing. Last year more than 6.5 million vehicles were passing through the Gotthard tunnel. 1 million of these vehicles are lorries. It is the busiest road for crossing Switzerland. In second place with over 2.5 million vehicles comes the San Bernardino Pass Tunnel. The most vehicles are passing the Alps via the Brenner Pass in Austria to Italy. 12.5 million vehicles each year will take this route.
What is the Best Timing to Drive through the Gotthard Tunnel?
The best time to drive through the Gotthard tunnel will slightly change each year as people will change their time pattern in order to avoid the traffic jam. The best option is to follow the latest traffic jam news online and then decide once in Switzerland to go via the Gotthard tunnel or the San Bernardino Pass or to make a stop over to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Swiss Alps.
Usually on a Saturday during summer holiday season most vehicles will pass through the Gotthard tunnel. On such a day it can be more than 40 000 vehicles.
The Touring Club Switzerland (TCS) will do a forecast on a daily and weekly basis and for the summer holiday season. Every Monday the forecast is updated. It is available in German, French and Italian: https://www.tcs.ch/de/tools/verkehrsinfo-verkehrslage/prognosen.php
One of the peak days is Saturday when the summer holidays begin in the canton of Zürich. It is the canton with the most inhabitants in Switzerland. Over 1.5 million people live in this canton. In 2020 the summer school holidays will start on July, 11th. See: https://publicholidays.ch/school-holidays/zurich/.
April, July, and August will be the months with the most high traffic volumes days. Eastern is another peak time for traffic when many cantons are starting their Eastern school holidays at the same time.
If you have the luxury to pick a week-day then this is the better options to avoid a long wait in front of the tunnel. Usually from Mondays to Thursday (except Eastern) the traffic is lower than on the other days even often without a traffic jam at all. On Friday afternoon a traffic jam can already build if it is a day before a key school holiday season.
Family with kids should plan accordingly. See: https://swissfamilytravel.com/blog/2017/5/22/7-tips-for-getting-through-the-gotthard-tunnel
Please be aware the entry at Göschenen to the highway will be closed by the police when the traffic reaches 3 km of length. The reason is to stop drivers from taking the site streets to circumvent the traffic and as well in the case of an accident on the highway not to block the rescue teams on the side street (Kantonsstrasse).
What Exits of the Highway A2 are before and after the Gotthard Tunnel?
Exit 37: Erstfeld – 24 km before the Gotthard Tunnel
Erstfeld was founded in 1285 and has today over 3700 inhabitants.
In Erstfeld you can board the Gotthard Base Tunnel. See as well the Gotthard Tunnel Experience a 2 hour guided tour.
In Erstfeld you will find a:
– Public Toilet: Link
– Bakery – Hauger at Gotthardstrasse 123
– 2 Banks: Raiffeisen at Gotthardstrasse 105 and Urner Kantonalbank Gotthardstrasse 121
– Post office at Gotthardstrasse 110
– Petrol/Gas Station: HUBROL Garage Gisler AG Gotthardstrasse 169 (24 hrs)
In Summary: Just drive through the Gotthardstrasse in Erstfeld and you find almost all the shops!
Exit 38: Amsteg – 14 km before the Gotthard Tunnel
Amsteg now belongs to the Silenen municipality.
Exit 39: Wassen – 4 km before Gotthard Tunnel
The population in Wassen is on a decline since the 1970s. Around 390 people currently live there.
More about Wassen at link. (German)
Yellow Pages: Wassen
Exit 40: Göschenen – 2.5 km before the Gotthard Tunnel
Please note: at a traffic length of 3 km the Göschenen entry to the A2 will be closed!
The village of Göschenen was first mentioned in 1280.
In Göschenen you will find:
– Public Toilet: Link
– Bakery Rieser at Gotthardstr. 42
The Gotthard Tunnel
Exit 41: Airolo – 1.5 km after the Gotthard Tunnel
Please note: at a traffic length of 3 km the Airolo entry to the A2 will be closed!
Airolo was already a Roman settlement.
Exit 42: Quinto – 12 km after the Gotthard Tunnel
Quinto was first mentioned in 1227. A grave from the iron age was found nearby.
Hotel Dazia Grande has a good Restaurant (Osteria) with a beautiful garden. Driving towards South leave A2 highway at Quinto. At the end of the village after the Casa Communale is the hotel.
Exit 43: Faido – 21 km after the Gotthard Tunnel
Faido was first mentioned in 1171.
Exit 44: Biasca – 38 km after the Gotthard Tunnel
Biasca was first mentioned in 830.
List of A2 highway exits: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A2_motorway_(Switzerland)
What was the Longest Traffic Jam at the Gotthard Tunnel?
The longest traffic jam on records is 28 km for the southbound direction. The waiting time was up to 5 hours. This happened on Friday May 18th 2018. The cause was a bus that caught fire in the San Bernardino Pass Tunnel and thus leaving only the Gotthard Tunnel as the main route through Switzerland. Further a car breakdown in the Gotthard tunnel added to the traffic jam length. More details at https://www.dw.com/en/san-bernardino-bus-crash-causes-switzerlands-longest-traffic-jam-in-19-years/a-43857500.
See video report:
What was the Lowest Traffic Jam at the Gotthard Tunnel?
April 2020: Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown in Switzerland and other countries in Europe there is less traffic at the Gotthard tunnel. The Gotthard tunnel is open. The recommendation by the Swiss authorities is not to travel at Eastern especially not to the canton of Ticino. The last reported traffic jam at the Gotthard tunnel was on February 24th 2020 in front of the south entrance between Quinto and Airolo with a length of 1 km. On May 20th this recommendation not to travel to Ticino was lifted. This lead to the first traffic jam on May, 20th 2020 at aournd 7:15 pm and reached a peaked of 2 km at around 8 pm that day for people travelling south to the canton of Ticino. The Gotthard tunnel did not have a single traffic jam due to the coronavirus lockdowns for almost 3 month.
Eastern 2020 Good Friday: usually the peak of the Gotthard tunnel traffic at 10 am – this time there is no traffic
Left: Tunnel Entrance North Right: Tunnel Entrance South
What was the Worst Accident in the Gotthard Tunnel?
One of the worst traffic accidents happened in the Gotthard tunnel. In 2001 on October, 24th. At 9:39 am two trucks collided and shortly after caught fire. The flames spread over 300 m and the the temperature of the fire reached 1200 degrees celsius. Eleven people died in the flames. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/gotthard-tunnel-safer-ten-years-after-inferno/31390366
In average 10 accidents happen per year in the tunnel. The majority of the accidents will end with verhicle damages and no injuries or death. See statitics at: https://de.statista.com/statistik/daten/studie/506345/umfrage/unfaelle-am-gotthard-tunnel-in-der-schweiz/
When is the New Tunnel Tube for the Gotthard being build?
Because of the Gotthard Tunnel Traffic Jam the Swiss Federal Council has proposed to construct a second tube. The swiss voters have accepted the proposal in 2016. The second tunnel is scheduled to open in 2027. Construction is planned to start in 2020. From 2028 till 2030 the first original Gotthard tunnel will be close for renovation. More details at:
The cost for the new Gotthard tunnel will be around 2.7 Billion Swiss Francs.
What Monitoring is done of the Traffic in the Gotthard Tunnel?
In case of an accident the police of canton Uri will regulate the traffic. The police is stationed 30 km away from the Tunnel in the town of Flüelen. The police will use the Polycom channel for communication with the police in the canton Ticino.
Information on planned closures of the Gotthard Tunnel can be found in German, French and Italian at: http://www.gotthard-strassentunnel.ch/de/mitteilungen/
Next closing is scheduled for Monday June, 15 till Friday June 19, 2020 from 8pm till 5 am. Below 3.5 tons vehicles are directed towards the San Bernardino Pass. Vehicles above 3.5 tons are stopped half an hour before the closing time.
Usually on Wednesday and/or Thursday night the tunnel is closed from 23.00 (11 pm) to 1.00 am for special transports.
The traffic in the tunnel is monitored by traffic cameras. There are 86 cameras along the 16.9 km long Gotthard tunnel. The distance between the TV cameras is 250 m. In case of an urgency the observation center will react immediately. On 10 Screens a distant of 2 km can be observed simultaneously by the observation team.
In total 200 km of the Gotthard tunnel are monitored by 650 live cameras 24 hrs a day. The team is located in Emmenbrücke near Lucerne. They belong to the “nationalen Verkehrsmanagementzentrale (VMZ) (national traffic management center).
A video in German about how the Gotthard tunnel is monitored and what safety measures have been established in case for example of a fire:
What is the Gotthard Pass Road?
The Gotthard Pass https://www.ticino.ch/en/commons/details/Gotthard-Pass/133935.html which is an alternative to the tunnel road is closed during the winter season. The closure started on November 4th, 2019 and will likely open on Wednesday May, 20th 2020 https://www.andermatt.ch/de/region-entdecken/erlebnisraeume/News/passperrungen. . The highest point is at 2106 m. It is a single lane and the National Road 2 was completed in 1977. Before there was a paved road build in 1830. The highest paved road in Europe is in Spain in the Sierra Nevada at 3300 m. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_highest_paved_roads_in_Europe.
Drone video of the Gotthard pass road Tremola:
Check your brakes before driving the pass road! Stelle Eikendal shared a personal story of an accident on the Gotthard pass road.
General Information on the Gotthard Tunnel?
When the Gotthard tunnel was opened to the public on September, 5 1980 after more than 10 years of construction work, it was the longest road tunnel in the world. It is nowadays the fourth longest tunnel. The longest tunnel is currently in Norway with 24.5 km length. The Laerdal tunnel connects the cities Aurland and Laerdal. The Laerdal tunnel was opened in 2000.
What are the Safety & Driving Rules in the Gotthard Tunnel?
Lorries/vans are scanned a few kilometers before the entry in the Gotthard tunnel if they have sign of heated parts to avoid fire in the tunnel. The scanning takes place when they pass a certain bridge. In case of overheated parts they are stopped by the police before entry in the Gotthard tunnel.
No overtaking during the drive through in the Gotthard tunnel. This is monitored a team with the cameras in the tunnel constantly. There will an immediate fine.
No turning in the Gotthard tunnel. You are not allowed to use the safety slots for parking to turn around in the Gotthard tunnel to drive back where you came from. Same applies here, cameras are watching and there is an immediate fine.
Fire in the tunnel. There are safety rooms in the tunnel which will protect people from the poisonous gases created by the fire. The safety rooms also include a telephone to contact the rescue teams. Additionally there is a further escape tunnel accessible from the safety rooms. Around 8-10 small fires per year happen in the tunnel. Fire fighters are immediately informed and are there in 4-5 minutes. They are stationed at both sides of the Gotthard tunnel and are always on duty. These fire departments are dedicated to the Gotthard tunnel only. Switzerland is the only country in the world with a tunnel fire training center in Balsthal.
Since 2019 holders of driving licences for cars and motorcycles in Switzerland will now only have to undergo a medical examination every two years after the age of 75. The previous age limit was 70. See page 51:
Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ Gotthard Tunnel Traffic
How long does it take to drive through the Gotthard tunnel?
It will 13 minutes to drive through the Gotthard tunnel.
Is there a Gotthard tunnel toll?
No, there is no additional tunnel toll charge for the Gotthard tunnel. It is all covered by the vignette every person needs to purchase if they plan to take the highways in Switzerland.
Is the Gotthard tunnel open?
Yes the Gotthard tunnel is open. The Gotthard tunnel will close usually on Wednesday and/or Thursday night from 23.00 (11 pm) to 1.00 am for special transports.
Information on planned closures of the Gotthard Tunnel can be found in German, French and Italian at http://www.gotthard-strassentunnel.ch/de/mitteilungen/
How long did it take to build the Gotthard tunnel?
It took 10 years to build the Gotthard tunnel for the road traffic.
How many road tunnels are there in Switzerland?
In Switzerland there are 1800 road tunnnel.
Who was St Gotthard?
Gotthard was a Benedictine monk (990), provost, and abbot (996/997). Saint Gotthard was born c. 960, near Niederaltaich, Bavaria (Germany) and died on May 4, 1038 in Hildesheim. Gotthard became the patron saint of traveling merchants.
Who built the St Gotthard Pass?
The first pass track was used by mules in the 13th century. In the 18th century the track was improved and in 1775 the English geologist Greville was the first to cross the Gotthard with a horse carriage.
How long is the Gotthard Pass?
26 km and it will take around 51 minutes to drive over the pass with no traffic holdup
Is San Bernardino tunnel open?
Yes – see: https://www.alpenpaesse.de/alpenpaesse/san-bernardino-strassentunnel-san-bernardino
No tunnel road toll – you only need the vignette for all highways in Switzerland: https://www.autobahnen.ch/index.php?lg=001&page=014
Gotthard Panorama Express?
Bet & Breakfast B&B at Gotthard?
To find a real bed & breakfast along the Gotthard road the best places to look is around Lucerne and Bellinzona.
The nearest bed & breakfast to the Gotthard is in Altdorf. Alternatively there are hotels closer to the Gotthard.
Search a Bed & Breakfast in Switzerland Link.
An e-bike to cross the Gotthard Pass Road can be rented directly in Andermatt: Link Or the e-bikes will be delivered to your destination: Link
Prices range from 75 Euro per day
A description of the road across the Gotthard: Link
DETEC: Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (Simonetta Sommaruga)
FEDRO: Swiss Federal Roads Office (ASTRA – Bundesamt für Strassen in German) reports into the DETEC and is responsible for the Gotthard Tunnel.
References and citation:
Safety in Tunnel
SWISS TXT: Verkehrsinformationen von Teletext der SRG SSR idée suisse.
TCS Verkehrsinfo: Alles was Sie für Ihre Reiseplanung brauchen
Aktuelle Strassensituation im Kanton Uri: Strasseninfos im Kanton Uri
Sie erhalten Informationen zu den wichtigsten Verhaltensregeln, welche bei einer Durchfahrt durch den Gotthard-Strassentunnel und insbesondere im Falle einer Panne, Kollision oder eines Brandes zu beachten sind.
“24 Stunden am Tag über 650 Kameras und fast zweitausend Kilometer Autobahn. ”
Sicherheit im Tunnel – wie verhalten: http://www.gotthard-strassentunnel.ch/de/sicherheit/sicherheit-im-tunnel/