World’s long­est tun­nel opens reg­u­lar ser­vice

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Geneva

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.

ARND WIEGMANN / REUTERS

A pas­sen­ger train crosses the world’s long­est train tun­nel dur­ing a test run on Nov 14 in Erst­feld, Switzer­land.

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