Switzerland has opened the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel, some seven kilometres longer than the Channel Tunnel, after 17 years of construction work and nine deaths.
The 57 kilometre (35 mile) Gotthard Base Tunnel will link routes between northern and southern Europe, such as Rotterdam to Genoa, by enabling high-speed trains to travel straight through the Swiss Alps. What's more, trains will be able to travel in both directions, due its dual-bore design.
The tunnel runs up to 2.3 kilometres below the mountains, sometimes travelling through rocks that reach temperatures of 46C. It has been reported that workers had to blast through 73 different types of rock in order to complete the engineering feat, while 28 million tonnes of rock were excavated during the 17-year project.
Swiss officials linked to the large scale engineering project have said that it will revolutionise the European freight industry, eliminating the need for a million lorries to travel on Swiss mountain roads every year.
It has been estimated that around 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will use the tunnel on a daily basis. The journey time through the tunnel itself is said to be just 17 minutes.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel was first approved by Swiss voters in a 1992 referendum, on the back of claims that all freight travelling through the country would be moved off the roads and onto railways. In total, the project cost $12 billion (£8.3 billion) to complete.
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