World’s longest and deepest rail tunnel opens in Switzerland
The world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel has officially opened in Switzerland, after almost two decades of construction work.
The 57km (35-mile) twin-bore Gotthard base tunnel will provide a high-speed rail link under the Swiss Alps between northern and southern Europe.
Switzerland says it will revolutionise European freight transport.
Goods currently carried on the route by a million lorries a year will go by train instead.
The tunnel has overtaken Japan’s 53.9km Seikan rail tunnel as the longest in the world and pushed the 50.5km Channel Tunnel linking the UK and France into third place.
n a speech to guests in Erstfeld, near the northern entrance to the tunnel, Swiss Federal President Johann Schneider-Ammann said it was a “giant step for Switzerland but equally for our neighbours and the rest of the continent”.
A live relay carried a speech from the southern end of the tunnel, in Bodio, by the Swiss federal transport minister, Doris Leuthard.
Afterwards two trains set off in opposite directions through the tunnel, each carrying hundreds of guests who had won tickets in a draw, and the new route was formally open.
A lavish show then got under way for the assembled guests in Erstfeld, with dancers, acrobats, singers and musicians celebrating Alpine culture and history.
European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern also attended the day’s events.
Mr Hollande, who took part with others in a follow-up trip through the tunnel on a train, emerged on the southern side to give a speech in which he compared the Gotthard to the Channel Tunnel.
Recalling the great Franco-British project, which was completed in 1994, he said: “Nobody could have imagined that one day you would be able to travel from England to France in that way.”
“Since then we are more united than ever and I hope the British will remember that when the day comes,” he added, to laughter and applause from the audience in the Swiss village of Pollegio.
this was no normal ceremony..check out the video..and then go “WTF”?
“Switzerland says it will revolutionise European freight transport.”
“A lavish show then got under way for the assembled guests in Erstfeld, with dancers, acrobats, singers and musicians celebrating Alpine culture and history.”