Gotthard Base Tunnel: World’s longest and deepest rail tunnel inaugurated
The world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel Gotthard Base Tunnel was inaugurated in Switzerland. The full service of twin-bore tunnel will begin in December 2016.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel is 57-kilometer long and connects northern and southern Europe and also shortens travel time for many rail routes.
It has overtaken Japan’s Seikan tunnel, which measures 53.9 kilometers, as the longest rail tunnel in the world.
- The twin-bore Gotthard Base Tunnel is the first flat low-level route through the Alps Mountain and is situated 2.3 km deep under the Alps.
- It was built in 17 years by 2,400 workers, at a cost of over 12 billion dollars as a part of the AlpTransit project, also known as New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA).
- The project consists of two single-track tunnels connecting Erstfeld (Uri) with Bodio (Ticino) and passing below Sedrun (Graubünden).
- The construction of the tunnel began in 1996 after 64% of Swiss voters in a 1992 referendum had accepted the AlpTransit project.
- The drilling operations in the eastern tunnel were completed in October 2010.
- Main purpose of the Gotthard Base Tunnel: (i) Increase total transport capacity across the Alps, especially for freight. (ii) Shift freight volumes from road to rail to reduce fatal crashes and environmental damage caused by ever-increasing numbers of heavy lorries. (iii) Provide a faster connection between northern and southern Europe, cutting journey time for passenger trains by about an hour.