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Friday, 21 December, 2001, 18:46 GMT
Swiss tunnel re-opens after fire
Swiss police officer at scene of the Gotthard tunnel crash, in which at least 11 people were killed
The tunnel suffered extensive damage in the fire
By Emma Jane Kirby in Geneva

Switzerland's St Gotthard road tunnel, a key north-south link through the Alps, has reopened nearly two months after a fire killed 11 motorists there.

Map of tunnel
Friday's re-opening is only for cars, but lorries will be allowed through from early Saturday.

The tunnel now has strict new safety measures in place, but some local people are unhappy with the decision to re-open the route.

Since the Mont Blanc tunnel was closed in 1999 following another fire there, the St Gotthard road has been used as the major transport link across the Alps and its closure has caused traffic chaos across Europe.

Local fears

Lorries will have to travel 150 yards apart and the tunnel will only open to them in one direction at a time.

The numbers of lorries that can travel through the tunnel daily has also been reduced from 5,500 to just 3,500.

Some local people have voiced oppostion to the reopening, fearing queues of traffic and noise pollution.

There have been calls for a second tube to be added to the St Gotthard tunnel to relieve pressure on the route, but the Swiss Government insists that the better solution is to transfer all trans-Alpine road freight to rail.

See also:

21 Dec 01 | Europe
Jury out on Gotthard tunnel
26 Oct 01 | Europe
France proposes one-way tunnels
25 Oct 01 | Europe
Analysis: Alpine road v rail
25 Oct 01 | Europe
Swiss shaken by row of disasters
24 Oct 01 | Business
Tunnel crash blow to trade
24 Oct 01 | Europe
Gotthard: Main Alpine link
24 Oct 01 | Europe
In Pictures: Swiss tunnel horror
24 Oct 01 | Europe
Alps tunnels' record of danger
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