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Old 04.05.2008, 21:48
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Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

Driving down to Milan on Friday night was absolutely fine, I did it in about 3.5 hours door-to-door. Today I left Milan at about 10am thinking I would beat the Sunday afternoon traffic.. big mistake. It took approx 6 hours to get from Milan to the mouth of the St Gotthard tunnel. Once we were in the tunnel it was plain sailing all the way to Basel. The two bottle necks were the Swiss border (relatively minor) and then Gotthard (major).

I perhaps should have expected it, but everyone knows that end-Bank Holiday traffic usually kicks off late afternoon
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Old 04.05.2008, 21:50
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

I avoid Gotthard from April to October. Now you know why
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Old 04.05.2008, 22:08
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

I have only done that drive once and have sworn "never again". To my (limited) knowledge, there is no quick way back from Italy following a long weekend or school break. Anyone have any tips?
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Old 04.05.2008, 22:08
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

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I avoid Gotthard from April to October. Now you know why
I got the directions from a Swiss colleague... which proves you can't trust anyone these days

Out of interest Lob, how should I have gone because I would like to re-visit Milan between now and October?

Cheers

P.S driving around Milan is great, white knuckle, adrenaline-fuelled madness!!!
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Old 04.05.2008, 22:10
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

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I got the directions from a Swiss colleague... which proves you can't trust anyone these days

Out of interest Lob, how should I have gone because I would like to re-visit Milan between now and October?

Cheers
Fly, perhaps. Or drive at silly'o'clock.
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Old 04.05.2008, 22:14
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

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I got the directions from a Swiss colleague... which proves you can't trust anyone these days

Out of interest Lob, how should I have gone because I would like to re-visit Milan between now and October?

Cheers

P.S driving around Milan is great, white knuckle, adrenaline-fuelled madness!!!
Variation 1.) go via Gotthard Pass and return via Bernadino - pain in the ass but much more fluid than Gotthard.
2.) go by train to Belinzona and take a mobility car from there - warning the last train leaves around 20:00
3.) Go from Tuesday<->Thursday

Regards
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Old 04.05.2008, 22:25
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

yes, Bernardino all the way. But of course for you going to Basel - a pain. But better than sitting in the queue.

Fridays can be dodgy too; Saturday morning is horrid - changeover day. There is no real way around it and ...... a few years ago ....... the Swiss voted AGAINST another tunnel.

Most people probably went Wednesday evening or Thursday morning.
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Old 04.05.2008, 22:38
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

I took the train through the Gotthard to Lugano on Thursday and I saw the southbound traffic jam, it looked like it was backed-up quite a bit around 11a.m. Thursday. There was no motorway back-up whatsoever northbound on either Thursday or Saturday evening.

Consider taking the train to Milan, it takes 4h 15 min from Basel. RailAway City-Hit tickets from Basel to Milan are available for CHF 106 (with Halb-Tax) or CHF 152 without (2nd Class) between June 1 and Sep 30.

Last edited by axelino; 04.05.2008 at 22:50. Reason: added link to Milan page listed in my RailAway brochure
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Old 04.05.2008, 22:46
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

We had the same problem Wednesday afternoon (~1 hour), and then Saturday afternoon - at least 2 hours.

I noticed both the mountain passes were closed, but there seems to be an exit from the mountain pass back to just before the entrance of the tunnel (within 1km anyway). Some tour busses drove down from the pass and joined the traffic (which we'd then been sitting in for 1.5 hours).

I'm wondering if you just head for the mountain pass, and either go through it, or just nick down to (nearer) the head of the queue into the tunnel? It seems incongruous that a tour bus would not have prior knowledge about the pass, and not go that way on purpose.

So ... any sage advice?

cheers,
(Mr)Wibble
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Old 04.05.2008, 22:48
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

I don't know what it was with traffic today. I'm not sure San Bernadino would have been better today. We left from Lugano around 11 am to go to Landquart. No problems. Traffic was great.

We left Landquart around 6pm. The northbound traffic for the tunnel at San Bernadino was from the tunnel all the way down to the bottom of the valley! There were a lot of people standing outside of there vehicles talking. Luckily for us we were headed south at the time. We didn't see any traffic accident to cause the line. I guess there were a lot vacationers returning home.

I've never seen traffic so bad. It had to be close to 15-20 kilometers of backed up traffic.
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Old 04.05.2008, 23:01
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

Never been in the Gotthard tunnel at the end of a Bank Holiday weekend without a jam .... And I have been doing this stretch since 1999 ... I usually get to the Gotthard at the wee hours of the morning ... Another tip is always fill up the car and clear the body before heading into the Gotthard , especially in winter time ......

Hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip .
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Old 04.05.2008, 23:05
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

sage advice? Avoid travelling south and then north on a bank holiday.

Rule of thumb is 20 minutes per km of queue at the Gotthard.

Heading north and being stuck down to the valley is frankly horrible. I've never seen that - but going up north to the Bernadino is subject to roadworks halfway up - and you go onto the pass road.

The passes won't open for another 4 weeks, I would guess. The higher ones were hit with snow a few weeks ago.
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Old 04.05.2008, 23:07
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

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We had the same problem Wednesday afternoon (~1 hour), and then Saturday afternoon - at least 2 hours.

I noticed both the mountain passes were closed, but there seems to be an exit from the mountain pass back to just before the entrance of the tunnel (within 1km anyway). Some tour busses drove down from the pass and joined the traffic (which we'd then been sitting in for 1.5 hours).

I'm wondering if you just head for the mountain pass, and either go through it, or just nick down to (nearer) the head of the queue into the tunnel? It seems incongruous that a tour bus would not have prior knowledge about the pass, and not go that way on purpose.

So ... any sage advice?

cheers,
(Mr)Wibble
I can confirm that it is currently closed for maintenance. I know because I tried it on the advice of my trusty TomTom satnav. In fairness there was a symbol of a car with a cross through it as you cross the bridge that flies over the highway, but I sort of ignored it and pressed ahead it was only once I had reached the summit that I saw a road-digger and a parked up 4x4 in the middle of the road.. so it was back down I went. However I wasn't the only one, I counted about 10 cars going up and then coming back down. I think they should make the signs a little more explicit. Anyway, I was actually past the worst of the traffic at that stage, so when I did rejoin the queues it was only another 30-45 mins till we reached the tunnel.
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Old 05.05.2008, 00:03
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

It's been over seven years since I took the Gottard! I will never do it again!! But in case you are tempted; call the TCS hotline to see if there is a wait.
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Old 05.05.2008, 00:10
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

www.gotthard-strassentunnel.ch

nice webcams of Airolo and Göschenen
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Old 05.05.2008, 00:26
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

Is the new tunnel that is going to be completed in 20** going to be able to take cars from Jo Public or is it going to be purely freight?
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Old 05.05.2008, 09:19
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

With Gothard you have to pick your battles.

I avoid it like the plague during any holiday periods at all.
  • If you absolutley must then drive in the middle of the night, between 8am and 10pm it can be absolute chaos.
  • At busy times preferably use San Bernardino.
  • If San Bernardino is clogged up, then head for Julier and Maloja passes to get down to Italy. It might be a little longer but you get to enjoy the scenery instead of sitting in the que. If the ques start before Thusis (does happen sometimes), then head up through Lenzerheide to Tiefencastle and then on to Julierpass.
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Old 05.05.2008, 11:01
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

I guess if you really want to drive to Italy, you will have to accept that there will most likely be a traffic jam before the Gotthard tunnel, and factor this time into your schedule. For us, the longest wait has been 1.5 hours before getting to the tunnel. It can be pretty frustrating in stop-start traffic, but it's probably still quicker than going another route.

As Lob said, the San Bernardino pass is an option, but only in summer.
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Old 05.05.2008, 11:15
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

GBN's term "silly o' clock" (above) has worked for us every time even at weekends but maybe we just got lucky. The one time we couldn't leave at some mad hour of the night we went over the pass which took a bit longer but was worth the trip.

I always find the tunnel is a bit scary when people don't stick to the distance rule and you get some joker one car length behind you.
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Old 05.05.2008, 14:46
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Re: Driving via Gotthard tunnel - never again!

Silly o'clock is fine - as long as the tunnel is actually open. See the link above for times that they will be closing it for maintenance.
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