Compared by enthusiasts to the likes of the Eifel Tower in Paris or the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco, the Porta Alpina project envisages the building of a new train station at record depths of 800 metres.
The station would be located inside the world’s longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which is expected to open to the public in 2016.
One of the world’s longest lifts would then link the station to the village of Sedrun. Locals are said to be enthusiastic about the project, which could see tens of thousands of tourists visiting the region each year.
The proposed site sits a little way along the mountain range from Andermatt, where Egyptian billionaire, Samih Sawiris, plans to build a new super-resort, and there is talk that one day the two attractions could somehow be linked.
Sawiris said he would be sorry if this “unique construction” was not realised.
Despite 75 percent of local Graubünden voters approving cantonal contributions to the project in 2005, local government determined that it was unable to spend the 20 million francs ($21.98 million) needed to build what would be one of Europe’s most spectacular train stations.
Nevertheless, Basel public relations entrepreneur Manfred Messmer, speaking on behalf of a group of investors, confirmed in a report by St. Galler Tagsblatt that he was very optimistic about the project.
He will meet decision-makers at national rail operator SBB as well as the Federal Office for Transport in June to try to obtain their consent to the construction work.
Messmer, together with his business partner, former Expo 02 chief Martin Heller, have received architectural and engineering proposals from companies all over Europe concerning how to develop the site. The list has been whittled down to a choice of 12, Tages Anzeiger reported.
Some of the plans include walks under the Gotthard massif and fantastic voyages through the rock, flanked by sound and light installations.
The entire project has been estimated at costing between 50 and 100 million francs ($54.89 million and $109.8 million) depending on which variation is chosen.