World's longest rail tunnel set to open

geneva - It will run under the Alps and took 17 years to build



The world's longest rail tunnel, which runs under the Alps and took 17 years to build, will be inaugurated on Wednesday. Here are some key numbers about the project, called the Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT).

At a length of 57 kilometres, the GBT will overtake Japan's 53.9km Seikan tunnel as the longest rail tunnel in the world. A total of 152km of the tunnel was carved through the mountain.

The first rail route through the Gotthard pass opened in 1882, a landmark in Swiss history that helped boost trade through the Alpine nation.

Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner first sketched the idea for a rail tunnel under the Alps at the Gotthard Pass in 1947. Sixty-nine years later, at a cost of just over 12 billion Swiss francs ($12 billion), the Gotthard Base Tunnel is set to open.

It took 43,800 hours of non-stop work by 125 labourers rotating in three shifts to lay the GBT's slab track.

The tunnel was carved by a massive 410-metre-long boring machine that removed roughly 28 million tonnes of rock.

It will take nearly two hours and 40 minutes to get from Zurich to Milan once the GBT opens full service in December, roughly an hour shorter than the journey currently takes.
The federal rail service projects a boom in rail travel in the coming years, including a surge in daily passengers from the current 9,000 people to 15,000 by 2020.

Ultimately, 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains should pass through the GBT per day, at speeds of 200 kilometres per hour, the rail service said. - AFP

A journalist takes a picture inside the 57-km Gothard base tunnel, which will streamline and increase traffic between northern and southern Europe.
A journalist takes a picture inside the 57-km Gothard base tunnel, which will streamline and increase traffic between northern and southern Europe.

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