The Simplon Tunnel was opened in 1906 as a rail link between Italy and Switzerland. As a result, the journey from the south was much shorter. The Gornergrat Railway therefore intensified its advertising in Italy.
The Simplon Tunnel, opened 117 years ago in 1906, was not only the longest mountain tunnel in the world until the end of the 1970s. The 1906 International Exhibition in Milan was held to mark the opening of the railway tunnel and chose transport as its main theme. It was perhaps this new connection, which brought Italy closer to French-speaking Switzerland and France, that also made the Expo a success: somewhere between 7.5 and 10 million people are said to have visited the exhibition.
More traffic on the Gornergrat Railway
The 19.8 km long tunnel between Switzerland and Italy was put into operation in May 1906. The journey from Domodossola to Brig now only took around 50 minutes instead of the 9 hours it had taken up to that point. Previously, travellers had to cross the Simplon Pass by stagecoach. The NZZ newspaper wrote in its issue of 30 May 1906: “It should also be mentioned that even after the opening of railway operations through the Simplon Tunnel, stagecoaches will be running from 1 June to 19 September via the Simplon Pass: leaving Brig at 6.30 am, arriving at Simplon-Hospiz at 11.30 am, and at Iselle at 3.25 pm.” The railway was able to transport significantly more passengers than the stagecoaches, which increased the frequency of the Visp-Zermatt Railway and the Gornergrat Railway.
More passengers thanks to advertising
The annual report of the Gornergrat Railway from 1905 read: “Provision was made in good time for an effective representation of our railway at the Simplon exhibition in Milan; among other things, the great Wehrli Gornergrat Panorama will be exhibited there.”
Finally, the 1906 annual report stated: “In addition to general advertising, there was intensive advertising this year especially at the Simplon exhibition in Milan together with the Visp-Zermatt Railway and the Seiler brothers. The success of these campaigns has not gone unnoticed, and a large part of this year’s additional revenue (note: +17%) can be attributed to these advertisements.”