World’s longest train tunnel opens on 11 December 2016
The new Gotthard Base Tunnel through the Swiss Alps will open on 11 December 2016.
The longest train tunnel in the world, which has taken 17 years to construct, is a pioneering masterpiece of modern, sustainable railway engineering and an exemplary example of Swiss precision planning, innovation and efficiency.
The 57-kilometre tunnel runs through the mountain at a depth of up to 2300 metres. In just 17 minutes, it will link Erstfeld in the north of the Alps to the southern portal of Bodio – the reduced travel time bringing surrounding towns, regions and cross-border countries that much closer to each other.
Furthermore, the Ceneri Base Tunnel in the Ticino (currently under construction as an important southern feeder to the Gotthard Base Tunnel) will complete in 2020, where it will reduce the travel time between Zurich and Milan to less than three hours.
With a long and legendary history dating back to the 13th century, the Gotthard route will no doubt greatly impact national and international traffic, especially the European corridor transport.
Apart from being an engineering feat, the new Gotthard Base Tunnel will also now lead the way in ecological evolution, as it continues to be powered by hydroelectricity. During its construction, five new sub-power stations to the north and south were either built or had existing ones replaced. This simply translates to a thoroughly sustainable journey along the north-south axis through one of Europe’s largest environmental protection projects.
All of the building sites along the tunnel were re-naturalised upon completion, while the pure and clean water from the mountain is routed into a vaulted drainage system, where it is used to farm domestic fish including burbot and zander (pikeperch). Local residents have expressed their appreciation for this effort, as the natural mountain water from the Gotthard massif is free from environmental pollutants.
From the end of 2016, travellers and rail enthusiasts will be able to experience both pioneering projects through the mythical mountain massif by taking the Gotthard round trip where they’ll link the classic Alpine train travel of yesteryear dating back to the 19th century to the newly completed state-of-the-art 21st-century route.