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World’s longest train tunnel is just the beginning

December 7, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59After almost 20 years of work, the new Gotthard Base Tunnel through the Swiss Alps, longest train tunnel in the world and a boon for tourism as well as a triumph of Swiss engineering, is ready to open next Sunday.

The tunnel, a masterpiece of modern, sustainable railway engineering and ecological best-practice, has taken 17 years to complete. It will open on time on Sunday 11 December 2016.

The tunnel is 57 kilometres long. For comparison, that’s similar to the distance  between Sydney’s far western suburbs and Sydney Airport. The Swiss tunnel runs through the mountain at depths reaching 2300 metres.

And it’s fast! In just 17 minutes, travellers can whisk from 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 much closer.

Tunnel opens onto bright new future

Tunnel opens onto bright new future

The tunnel is just the beginning. The Ceneri Base Tunnel in the Ticino (currently under construction as an important southern feeder to the Gotthard Base Tunnel) will open in 2020, reducing the travel time between Zurich and Milan in Italy’s north to less than three hours.

With a long and eventful history dating back to the 13th century, the Gotthard route is now set to take a big leap forward. The new link will greatly improve national and international travel times. Travel planners and wholesalers please take note.

As well as an engineering feat, the new Gotthard Base Tunnel is ecologically sound, being powered by hydroelectricity. During its construction, five new sub-power stations to the north and south were built to ensure a totally sustainable journey along the north-south axis through one of Europe’s largest environmental protection projects.

All building sites along the tunnel were returned to their natural state on completion. Pure and clean water from the mountain is routed into a vaulted drainage system, where it is used to farm fish such as burbot and zander (pikeperch). This has delighted locals, as the natural mountain water from the Gotthard massif remains free from environmental pollutants.

From the end of 2016, travellers and rail enthusiasts will be able to experience both these pioneering projects through the 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.

Written by Peter Needham

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