Switzerland has opened the longest and deepest tunnel in the world that has been under construction for Seventeen years. The Gotthard Base Tunnel was inaugurated in a colourful ceremony with dignitaries from around Europe attending the function.
Dabbed Switzerland’s construction of the century, the 57-kilometer long tunnel creates a high-speed rail link deep beneath the famous mountain range, connecting northern and southern Europe.
The function attracted European leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi .
With a depth of 2,300 the tunnel will reduce by an hour the time needed to travel between Zurich, Switzerland, and Milan, Italy.
The Swiss Travel System says Trains will travel the tunnel, which runs between the towns of Erstfeld in the north and Bodio in the south, in only 20 minutes, reaching speeds of up to 250 km/hr.
The construction of the tunnel was carried out by AlpTransit Gotthard which says that the tunnel construction project will boost the efficiency and reliability of rail freight, making it more competitive.
The rail tunnel in Switzerland overtakes the 53.9-kilometer Seikan Tunnel in northern Japan as the longest rail tunnel in the world.
The line, which will begin full operations in December, will establish a mainline rail corridor through Europe from the Dutch port of Rotterdam in the north to the Italian port of Genoa on the Mediterranean.
It is expected to bring significant environmental benefits by diverting freight sent by road on to rail instead.
“The main reason for the construction of this tunnel was to get the goods traffic off the motorway and onto the trains,” Simon Peggs of AlpTransit Gotthard said.
It is anticipated the economic benefits of increased trade and travel efficiency will make inroads into the tunnel’s $12 billion construction cost.