Research into Alpine Passes has thrown up another alternative to the Gotthard Tunnel/Gotthard Pass – the Oberalp and Lukmanier passes between Andermatt and Biasca.
Le Mans kicks off with scrutineering in the city centre – while the bridge in central Rouen is still closed, roads are expected to be generally traffic free this weekend. Also, a new law will cap clamping fees in Ireland. A transcontinental EV drive was ruined by mismatched plug technology. Anti-car protestors occupy central Brussels and P&O Dover-Calais services are cancelled after a medical emergency early this morning.
GIBRALTAR QUEUE WATCH: one hour’s delay first thing and thirty minutes mid-afternoon.
DODGING THE GOTTHARD TUNNEL
Oberlp/Lukmanier is a year-round alternative to the Gotthard Pass.
Delays at the Gotthard Tunnel can reach several hours at peak times summer and winter. The 10.3 mile tunnel on the A2 in south central Switzerland is a major route through the Alps.
The usual alternative is the Gotthard Pass between Andermatt and Airolo, from each end of the tunnel (marked in yellow above). However, the 2106m high pass road normally closes for the winter in October and doesn’t re-open until late May at the earliest. Between times it can shut suddenly due to the weather or can be very busy itself due to drivers diverting off the A2.
There are also long term roads works at the north end of the pass between Goschenen and Andermatt, and on the tunnels on the Italian side, lasting until 2019. The works will be suspended at the weekend during the peak summer months July and August but, before and after, Swiss motoring club TCS does not recommend the pass as an alternative to the tunnel.
Our research into Alpine roads has now thrown up another alternative. It combines Oberalppass and Lukmanier Pass between Andermatt, Disentis and Biasca, coming back to the A2 twenty miles south of Airolo. It’s an extra 20 miles over the direct route, on much slower roads, and because it includes the first part of the Gotthard Pass up to Andermatt heading southbound, this diversion is probably most useful for drivers going north. Either way, it is surely better than nose to tail on the motorway.
Like Gotthard, Oberalppass is signed from Andermatt. It heads due east and is pretty interesting itself, running beside the source of the Rhine. As it tops out at a mere 2044m it is less subject to the weather (we’ve driven Oberlap in the rain, fog and ice). It anyway opens much earlier than Gotthard – closing as late as December, opening usually mid-April – and there’s also a year round (limited) car rail service with terminals at Andermatt and Disentis.
Lukmanier heads due south, for forty miles, between Disentis and Biasca. It lacks the cascading switchbacks of Gotthard and Oberalp, and reaches only 1915m, but heading south along the Medel River valley until the Lago di Santa Maria – on the border between German-speaking Graubunden and Italian-speaking Ticino – one is unlikely to feel short changed.
Most importantly Lukmanier is open all year round. Heading north, if Oberalp is closed, and the train full, head east from Disentis instead on H19 for forty miles to the A13 at Chur, then onto Zurich and Basel.
NOTE: delays at the Gotthard Tunnel are relayed by electronic signs beside the A2 on the approaches. For advance notice see @DriveEurope on Twitter. Oberalppass is closed from December-May, vehicles 18t+ are banned.
roundup: IRELAND. Clamping fines will be capped at €100, even on private ground, according to a new law published by TranMin Leo Vradkar. ELECTRIC VEHICLES. Plugs should be standardised across Europe says EV writer Nikki Gordon Bloomfield after she was stranded in France during a disastrous attempt to join last week’s WAVE Tour in Stuttgart. BELGIUM. Up to 3,000 picnicking protestors occupied Anspachlaan in central Brussels yesterday afternoon to pressure the city council to carry through its plan to pedestrianise large parts of the city centre. The council was to make a final decision in late January but all has been quiet since. CHANNEL. Two P&O Dover-Calais crossings were cancelled earlier today after a Romanian truck driver was unfortunately found dead of a suspected heart attack on the 07:35 Dover departure.