This Tunnel Underneath the Swiss Alps is the Longest and Deepest in the World

The Gotthard Base Tunnel sits underneath the massive mountains of the Swiss Alps. It provides a route for both passengers and freight trains.
Jessica Miley

Tunnelling is an exciting engineering prospect. Digging a tunnel of any kind requires a range of engineering knowledge from civil to geological. We know Elon Musk is dedicating some serious time and money to tunnel building technology via his tunnel-boring company but the title for the most innovative tunnelers has to go to the Swiss. They not only have designed and built the longest tunnel in the world, it is also the deepest. The Gotthard Base Tunnel runs 57.5 km under the Alps. The tunnel was completed in 2016 after almost twenty years of construction. Once completed the tube stole the title from the Seikan Tunnel in Japan as the longest in the world. 

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is also the deepest tunnel ever constructed. One section of this incredible feat of engineering actually runs underneath Piz Vatgira, a nearly 3000m tall mountain that contributes to the Swiss Alps. The tunnel sits 2.3 km underneath the peak of this mountain. To put it into perspective, that is roughly 1.5 times the deepest point in the Grand Canyon. The tunnel is exclusively used for a railway connecting Erstfeld (Uri) with Bodio (Ticino). The rail line is part of the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA) project. The project will see other lines and tunnels created to increase connections through the Alps, particularly for freight trains. The transfer of freight transport from trucks to trains should substantially reduce the risk of both driver fatalities and environmental impacts.