The Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) recently opened and acquired the title for the world’s longest rail tunnel ever made.
A new tunnel system recently opened in Switzerland to save commuters major time traveling between Zurich and Lugano. The GBT spans an astonishing length of 57 km (35.5 miles) through the alps with a total tunnel system comprising of 151.84 km (94.3 mi) of tunnels, shafts, and passages- making it the world’s longest and deepest traffic tunnel in the world.
The billion dollar project took more than 17 years to construct after the first blast was made in the main shaft. The railway will support 325 trains at speeds up to 250km/h, taking an impressive 45 minutes off of the time it takes to travel over the mountain pass.
More than 2,000 individuals from the army, police, federal government, Swiss Federal Railways, AlpTransit Gotthard (ATG) and private companies witnessed the opening. In addition, 300 media professionals from around 20 nations, including the USA, Canada, China, Japan, Kuwait and Chile have all been accredited to film the opening ceremony. Over 160,000 curious individuals applied to have a seat, with only two thousand being let in.
The ceremony showcased bizarre dancing and unique interaction with massive LED screens as climbers scaled the digitized displays. A memorial dedicated to the nine people who lost their loves during the construction of the tunnel was also unveiled at the opening.
The tunnel has supported the country with over 2600 jobs, and will bring in more revenue to other parts of the country, as well as limit carbon emissions and traffic that congests the small roads zigzagging through the extremely mountainous countryside.
The rail system will support hundreds of thousands of commuters a year, as well as transport hundreds of thousands of produce and other merchandise. The GBT marks a new era for underground travel and houses some of the most impressive engineering required to construct the megastructure.
[Image Source: Hannes Ortlieb]