Written by Staff Writer
01 Jun, 2016 | 3:57 pm
The world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel will be officially opened in Switzerland, after almost two decades of construction work.
The 57-kilometre (35-mile) Gotthard Base Tunnel runs under the Alps from Erstfeld in the central canton of Uri, to Bodio in the southern Ticino canton.
Festivities with 1,200 invited guests, expected to cost about €8m, will mark the opening of the rail tunnel, which will be mainly used for further test journeys until commencing regular service in December 2016.
Once fully functional, the tunnel will not just slice 45 minutes off the journey time between Zurich and Lugano, but also form a central building block of the so-called Rhine-Alp corridor that stretches from the Dutch sea ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp via Germany’s industrial heartland down to the port of Genoa in Italy.
The project, which cost more than $12bn (£8.3bn) to build, was endorsed by Swiss voters in a referendum in 1992. Voters then backed a proposal from environmental groups to move all freight travelling through Switzerland from road to rail two years later.
The completed tunnel travels up to 2.3 km below the surface of the mountains above and through rock that reaches temperatures of 46C.
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