World’s longest, deepest rail tunnel opens in Switzerland

Swiss authorities on Wednesday inaugurated the world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel, which runs between the Swiss town of Erstfeld in the north and Italian-speaking Bodio in the south, under the Alps to ease trade and congestion in European trade and travel. The 57-kilometre Gothard Base Tunnel (GBT) was carried out over 17 years at a cost of $12 billion.

Many tunnels crisscross the Swiss Alps, and Gotthard Pass already has two – the first, also for trains, was built in 1882. But the Gotthard Base Tunnel is a record-setter. It eclipses Japan’s 53.8 kilometer Seikan Tunnel as the world’s longest and bores deeper than any other tunnel, running about 2.3 kilometers underground at its maximum depth. The thoroughfare aims to cut travel times, ease roadway traffic and draw cargo from polluting lorries. Once it opens for commercial service in December, the two-way tunnel will take up to 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains per day.

The project, while cutting a north-south axis through central Switzerland, has received financial support and industrial know-how from around the European Union.

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