The Gotthard railway is the Swiss trans-alpine railway line from northern Switzerland to the canton of Ticino. The line forms a major part of an important international railway link between northern and southern Europe, especially on the Rotterdam-Basel-Genoa corridor. The Gotthard Railway Company was the former private railway company which financed the construction of, and originally operated, that line.
The railway comprises an international main line through Switzerland from Bâle or Zurich to Immensee to Chiasso, together with branches, from Immensee to Lucerne and Rotkreuz, from Arth-Goldau to Zug, and from Bellinzona to Chiasso, via Locarno and Luino. The main line, second highest standard railway in Switzerland, penetrates the Alps by means of the Gotthard Tunnel at 1,151 metres above sea level. The line then descends as far as Bellinzona, at 241 metres above sea level, before climbing again to the pass of Monte Ceneri, on the way to Lugano and Chiasso. The extreme differences in altitude necessitate the use of long ramped approaches on each side, together with seven spirals.
Construction of the line started in 1872, with some lowland sections opening by 1874.