Swiss Celebrate Completion of World's Longest Railway Tunnel

By Meera Dolasia on October 21, 2010

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On October 15th, the people of Switzerland celebrated with abandon, as the drill broke through the last piece of rock, finally connecting the two ends of the Gotthard Base Tunnel - The world's longest railway tunnel. The mammoth undertaking that cost about 10 billion USD took 2,600 workers, 12 years to accomplish - And, it's not done yet.

The final touches which include laying rail tracks inside the 35.4-mile, tunnel that has a diameter of 9-meters, is expected to take another seven years. Once complete it, will pave the way for high-speed rail travel between northern and southwestern Europe, with as many as, 300 trains screeching through daily.

This is not the first time the Swiss have cut a railway tunnel through this treacherous region. The Gotthard Rail Tunnel, which opened in 1882 is a nine-mile stretch, that accommodates over 150 freight trains daily. However, this new tunnel is much flatter, which will allow for longer freight trains and hence have the capability to carry twice the cargo. It will also be used for high-speed passenger trains and will cut the commute time from Zurich to Milan by an hour, to 2 hrs 40 mins.

While the engineering feat is certainly commendable, the reason the country undertook such a mammoth, seemingly impossible task is even more admirable. Despite being a tiny land-locked country, with a population of only 7.8 million people, Switzerland has always been in the forefront when it comes to environmental issues. Rail cargo already accounts for 35% of all shipments in the region, as opposed to about 18% for the entire European Union. This new tunnel will increase the cargo capacity even more and help remove heavy trucks off the road. The Swiss believe that other countries will follow their lead in building additional environmentally friendly rail routes.

Sources:time.com mb.com, suntimes.com

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74 Comments
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  • CongratsTuesday, November 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm
    Sweden should be proud of their accomplishment. They broke a record that requires lots of labor machinery and money. Way to go Sweden!
    • E manTuesday, March 18, 2014 at 4:37 pm
      cool
      • jjMonday, November 22, 2010 at 6:59 am
        pie!
        • jet lee adamMonday, November 22, 2010 at 6:48 am
          according to the article, swiss has completed the railway. i feel good for them and should be rewarded with big money. this is a great completion for swiss and for traders. good luck on the next 7 years
          • SdaTuesday, November 9, 2010 at 3:42 pm
            Pie is good
            • CaseyMonday, November 8, 2010 at 1:26 pm
              What would happen if the train broke down?
              • KRAZEE PERSON333Monday, November 8, 2010 at 12:59 pm
                SCARY
                • joeyMonday, November 8, 2010 at 7:42 am
                  how many rail roads have they cut through and did they cut through a whole lot of rail roads to make one or are they just seperated and whos paying these people to cut through the rail roads
                  • treefFriday, November 5, 2010 at 10:07 am
                    they are silly
                    • freefFriday, November 5, 2010 at 10:06 am
                      this is the lame attempt of the suiss trying to be as good as the austrians. never.

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