These were the words of Swiss Transportation Minister Moritz Leuenberger about the Gotthard Base Tunnel, that is since today the longest tunnel in the world.
The longest tunnel in the world was until today the undersea Seikan railway tunnel, which connects the Japanese islands of Honshu and Hokkaido and is 53.85 km long, and in second place it was the rail tunnel linking Britain to France, under the English Channel with 50.45 km.
Today Swiss engineers drilled the last rock wall of the 57.1 km long Gotthard Base Tunnel deep beneath the Alps that will begin to operate in 2017. It consists of two parallel tunnels 40 meters apart that are connected every 320 meters by a cross passage and there are two emergency stops inside the tunnel where passengers, in case of problems, may leave the train.
About 13 million cubic meters of rock were excavated from the mountain by a gigantic tunnel drill named Sissi.
The project is budgeted at more than 12 billion francs (12.58 billion dollars) and has claimed the lives of eight construction workers but it’s now the pride and joy of Switzerland.
This tunnel will reduce from 1.3 million to 650,000 the number of trucks that will pass through the Swiss Alps each year and a trip between Zurich and Milan will last one hour less, using high-speed trains.
In the words of Swiss Transportation Minister Moritz Leuenberger, this is “Switzerland’s world wonder, and the longest world wonder in the world.”
You can also view two photo galleries on Spiegel Online:
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