The Gotthardbahn, the second highest standard railway in Switzerland, was constructed from 1872-1882, penetrating the Alps by means of the Gotthard Tunnel at 1,151 metres (3,776 ft) above sea level. At the time, the 15km Gotthard rail tunnel was the world's longest.
Rivet Games have meticulously modelled 110km of the Gotthard route from Erstfeld, on the North side of the Alps, at an altitude of 472 metres (1,549 ft), South to Bellinzona near the Italian border at an altitude of 241 metres (791 ft). Because of the extreme differences in altitude long ramped approaches are used on each side, together with multiple spirals tunneled under the mountains.
From Erstfeld the line follows the valley of the river Reuss South to Göschenen with a gradient of up to 2.7%. After Gurtnellen, at an altitude of 738 metres (2,421 ft), can be found the first of several tunneled railway spirals that increase in elevation inside the Alps.
The first two such spirals form the double loop of Wassen, at an altitude of 928 metres (3,045 ft), allowing the famous church of Wassen to be seen three times from different perspectives, initially from below and ultimately from 200 metres (660 ft) above.
Immediately after Göschenen station, the Gotthard railway enters the Gotthard Tunnel, a 15,003-metre-long (49,222 ft), double-track tunnel, built as a single tube. The highest point of the Gotthardbahn is within this tunnel; 1,151 metres (3,776 ft) above sea level, making it the second highest standard railway in the country.
The line exits the tunnel at Airolo, at an altitude of 1,142 metres (3,747 ft) after which it crosses the Ticino river and descends through its valley in the Leventina district. Between Airolo and Biasca the line drops 849 metres (2,785 ft) in 46 kilometres (29 mi) in part through two more double-spiral loops, the Piottino-Loops, and the Biaschina-Loops.
From Biasca, at an altitude of 293 metres (961 ft), the line continues to follow the Ticino river as far as Bellinzona, at an altitude of 241 metres (791 ft).
The route is regularly served by SBB’s iconic Re460 locomotive, which has also been built to exacting standards for the TS19 route: Gotthardbahn Alpine Classic.