The objective of AlpTransit, the umbrella term for a set of major Swiss Railways tunnelling projects (which together deliver the acronym NEAT in German) is to improve the Swiss transit traffic in north-south directions. Especially the heavy goods vehicle traffic has to be transfered from the road to the rail, if the traffic collaps shall be avoided. The Lötschberg Base Tunnel is the biggest NEAT project after the Gotthard. The route runs for 34 kilometers from Frutigen in the Canton of Bern to Raron in the Valais. Designed as a Base Tunnel, it runs at a relatively low hight of 828 meters above sea level. Old crystalline gneiss, granite and granodiorite are the key geological features of the route through the Aar massif.
In July 2000, an open hard-rock TBM began tunnelling from the Steg portal towards the south. Three months later, a second Gripper TBM began work at the southern portal at Raron. Despite partly blocky ground, the jobsite teams achieved average weekly tunnelling rates of 83.8 meters (S-174 Raron) and 87 meters (S-167 Steg) respectively. Raron reported a record of 50.1 meters in 18 hours.The Lötschberg Tunnel was opened on time for traffic in 2007. Together with the Simplon Tunnel, approx. 20 kilometers long and constructed some years earlier, the new tunnel is the backbone of the Lötschberg axis.