Billed as Switzerland’s “Construction of the Century,” the Gothard Base Tunnel, the longest and deepest rail tunnel in the world, inaugurated on June 1 amid colorful events, fireworks, and abundance of yodeling and alphorns.
The project lasted 17 years, involving about 2,600 workers, costing over $12 billons, and the tunnel opened up with nine losing their lives in the construction of the tunnel.
The Gothard Base Tunnel will slice some big time for passengers and freight travelling between the northern and southern Europe. Instead of making a long journey around the Alps of the Swiss, travelers can now fly straight underground on lighting fast trains.
The Gothard Base Tunnel consists of two separate single-track tunnels running through the Dutch port of Rotterdam in the north to the Italian port of Genoa on the Mediterranean.
The Gothard Base Tunnel reaches a mere depth of a mile and a half (2,300 meters or 7,545 feet) beneath the surface of the earth will cut down half of the travel time between Zurich, Switzerland and Milan, Italy.
The tunnel is 57 kilometers long (35 miles), that bypasses many famous mountains and it has been completed on time, a peculiar Swiss punctuality.
AlpTransit Gotthard, the company behind the construction of the Gothard Base Tunnel, says reaching deeper, the temperature goes higher, in fact, the temperature could go up to 45-degrees, that too, without appropriate ventilation. To cool down the air inside the tunnel to 28-degrees, a lot of electricity was used to bring fresh air into the tunnel.
Drilling through the mountains was not easy you’d think. They had bored into 73 different types of rock, ranging from a consistency of sugar to the tougher solid granite.
There are five different access points along the tunnel’s route where the two tunnels were connected approximately every 1,000 feet.
Trains will travel the Gothard Base Tunnel, which runs between the towns of Erstfeld in the north and Bodio in the south, in only 20 minutes, reaching speeds of up to 250 kilometers an hour (155 mph), according to the Swiss Travel System.
The main purpose of the Gotthard Base Tunnel is to increase total transport capacity across the Alps, especially for freight, notably on the Rotterdam–Basel–Genoa corridor, and more particularly to shift freight volumes from road to rail to reduce fatal crashes and environmental damage caused by ever-increasing numbers of heavy trucks.
As of now, only limited service will be operated with full service expected to begin from December.