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World's longest and deepest rail tunnel opens

June 01, 2016 16:54 IST

Switzerland has opened the largest and deepest railway tunnel across the Alps.

Image: A general view shows the northern gates (L) of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel near the town of Erstfeld, Switzerland. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
 
 

One of the world’s biggest engineering marvels, the 57.1 km long Gotthard Base Tunnel will reduce travel time between Zurich and Milan by one hour making it a 2 hour and 50 minute journey.

Image: A train drives past the northern gates of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel near the town of Erstfeld, Switzerland. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
 
 

The $10.3 billion project consists of two 57-kilometres-long single-track tubes, on which trains can travel at a maximum speed of 250 kilometres per hour.

Image: Swiss police officers stand beside of mock gates of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel inside the event hall for the upcoming opening ceremony near the town of Erstfeld, Switzerland. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
 
 

It is also the first flat route through the Alps or any other major mountain range, with a maximum height of 549 metres above sea level.

Image: Miners stand in front as the drill machine 'Gaby' breaks through the rock at the section Erstfeld-Amsteg at the construction site of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
 
 

Built by AlpTransit Gotthard AG, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss Federal Railways, the tunnel surpasses the Seikan Tunnel in Japan. 

Image: Visitors walk through the construction site of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel at the Erstfeld-Amsteg section. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
 
 

Around 2,000 workers toiled over 20 years to build this tunnel. Nine workers lost their lives during the construction.

Image: Workers cycle next to the railway tracks at the NEAT Gotthard Base tunnel near Amsteg . Photograph: Ruben Sprich/Reuters
 
 

A straight route with no curves or level crossings on the overground sections, the Gotthard and Ceneri Base Tunnels together make the project one of the world's most outstanding engineering projects. 

Image: A worker stands at the construction site of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
 
 

Around 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will travel across the two-tube tunnel daily once final testing ends later this year.

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