World’s longest tunnel opens regular service
Regular rail service through the world’s longest tunnel began on Sunday, carrying passengers deep under the Swiss Alps from Zurich to Lugano.
The famed Gotthard Base Tunnel had a ceremonial opening in June, attracting European leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande for its maiden ride.
The Swiss national rail service had announced that Sunday would mark the start of normal commercial traffic through the 57-kilometer GBT, which took 17 years to build, at a cost of more than $11.8 billion.
The ATS news agency said the tunnel passage shaves a full 30 minutes off the previous travel time for the same route.
The ambitious GBT project has won praise across Europe for its pioneering efforts to improve connectivity from Rotterdam to the Adriatic.
The Swiss funded tunnel was largely made possible by technical advances in tunnelboring machines, which replaced the costly and dangerous blast-and-drill method.
The GBT has surpassed Japan’s 53.9-km Seikan tunnel as the world’s longest train tunnel. The 50.5-km Channel Tunnel connecting the United Kingdom and France has been bumped into third place.
A passenger train crosses the world’s longest train tunnel during a test run on Nov 14 in Erstfeld, Switzerland.