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Montevideo, September 22nd 2018 - 21:11 UTC

Europe opens the longest tunnel in the world, 57km, under the Swiss Alps

Thursday, June 2nd 2016 - 07:13 UTC
Full article 3 comments
 With political unity on the continent shaken, Swiss president Johann Schneider-Ammann said the tunnel would “join the people and the economies” of Europe. With political unity on the continent shaken, Swiss president Johann Schneider-Ammann said the tunnel would “join the people and the economies” of Europe.
Passengers included German's Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Swiss leader Passengers included German's Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and the Swiss leader
While the tunnel was entirely funded by non-EU member Switzerland, the bloc's transport commissioner Violeta Bulc has hailed it as “a godsend” for the continent. While the tunnel was entirely funded by non-EU member Switzerland, the bloc's transport commissioner Violeta Bulc has hailed it as “a godsend” for the continent.
The tunnel runs from Erstfeld in the central canton of Uri, to Bodio in the southern Ticino canton. The tunnel runs from Erstfeld in the central canton of Uri, to Bodio in the southern Ticino canton.

The world's longest tunnel officially opened on Wednesday, with the trailblazing rail passage under the Swiss Alps aiming to ease transit through the heart of Europe. With political unity on the continent shaken by a massive influx of migrants and the looming threat of Britain's EU departure, Swiss president Johann Schneider-Ammann said the tunnel would “join the people and the economies” of Europe.

 He spoke before the 57-kilometre Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) made its ceremonial first run with European leaders on board.

The passengers included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. While the tunnel was entirely funded by non-EU member Switzerland, the bloc's transport commissioner Violeta Bulc has hailed it as “a godsend” for the continent.

It runs from Erstfeld in the central canton of Uri, to Bodio in the southern Ticino canton. Travel through the Alpine region, by rail or by road, requires taking a zigzag and undulating route.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel was designed to offer a better option for both private travelers and commercial freights.

When the full service opens in December, the tunnel will shave the train journey from Zurich to Milan in northern Italy down to two hours and 40 minutes, roughly an hour less than it currently takes.

It should also make rail freight more efficient -- partly by supporting heavier cargo, which should reduce the number of smoke-spewing lorries on the roads, in turn improving traffic and curbing pollution.

The number of daily rail passengers is expected to increase from the current rate of 9,000 people to 15,000 by 2020, according to the Swiss federal railway service.

The rough design for a rail tunnel under the Gotthard Pass was first sketched by Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner in 1947. But bureaucratic delays, concerns over the cost and other hurdles pushed back the start of construction until 1999. The work took 17 years at a cost of more than 12 billion Swiss francs, US$ 12bn

According to the Swiss rail service, it also took 43,800 hours of non-stop work by 125 laborers rotating in three shifts to lay the tunnel's slab track. The ambitious venture was largely made possible by technical advances in tunnel-boring machines, which replaced the costly and dangerous blast-and-drill meth

The primary machine used to make the Gotthard tunnel was roughly 410-metres long and functioned like a mobile factory. It cuts through rock and throws the debris backwards while simultaneously placing the pre-formed segments of concrete that form the shape of the tunnel. A separate system grouts the pieces together.

With its official opening, the GBT has surpassed Japan's 53.9-kilometre Seikan tunnel as the world's longest train tunnel. The 50.5-kilometre Channel Tunnel that links England and France has been bumped into third place.

Top Comments

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  • ChrisR

    Who GAF whether you can cut an hour off going to Italy?

    As for the:
    “It should also make rail freight more efficient -- partly by supporting heavier cargo, which should reduce the number of smoke-spewing lorries on the roads, in turn improving traffic and curbing pollution.” this is written by someone who does not understand the economics of Euro/UK wide road transport and lorries have been complying for 10 years to Euro Emissions much tighter than for cars. Also, what carbon footprint is the cost of generating electricity for the trains?

    This will INCREASE transport costs by denuding truck of a backload which makes the whole out and back journey worth doing.

    But heh, I only ran my own heavy transport business for seven years, what do I know? More than the author of the article, that's for sure.

    Jun 02nd, 2016 - 07:56 pm 0
  • Pete Bog

    When Argentina finally finished the Malvinas Chunnel in 300 years this will be a proud achievement for the republic.

    It will be opened by lots of cheering and flag waving. That is white flags as the invasion force surrenders on tunnelling into West Falkland as a British patrol of four soldiers passes by. And hysterical cheering, as the RGs are welcomed back through the Argentine end of the tunnel.

    Medals will be issued to all participants and the date that they complete the tunnel celebrated forever, but curiously, the date they are marched back by the Brits through the tunnel will never again be mentioned....

    Jun 05th, 2016 - 08:58 pm 0
  • ChrisR

    @ 2 Pete Bog

    So no change there then Pete! :o)

    Jun 06th, 2016 - 10:59 am 0
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