Worlds longest and deepest rail tunnel inaugurated - Gotthard Base Tunnel

Thursday 2nd of June 2016

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The world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel Gotthard Base Tunnel was inaugurated in Switzerland. The full service of twin-bore tunnel will begin in December 2016.


The Gotthard Base Tunnel is, with a length of 57.09 kilometres (35.47 mi), the longest railway tunnel in the world, with a geodetic distance of 55.782 kilometres (34.661 mi) between the two portals. It is also the first flat route through the Alps or any other major mountain range, with a maximum height of 549 metres (1,801 ft) above sea level. It is therefore the deepest railway tunnel in the world, with a maximum depth of approximately 2,300 metres (7,500 ft), comparable to that of the deepest mines on earth. Without ventilation, the temperature inside the mountain reaches 46 °C (115 °F).
Key Facts

    • The twin-bore Gotthard Base Tunnel is the first flat low-level route through the Alps Mountain and is situated 2.3 km deep under the Alps.

    • It was built in 17 years by 2,400 workers, at a cost of over 12 billion dollars as a part of the AlpTransit project, also known as New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA).

    • The project consists of two single-track tunnels connecting Erstfeld (Uri) with Bodio (Ticino) and passing below Sedrun (Graubünden).

    • The construction of the tunnel began in 1996 after 64% of Swiss voters in a 1992 referendum had accepted the AlpTransit project.

    • The drilling operations in the eastern tunnel were completed in October 2010.

    • Main purpose of the Gotthard Base Tunnel:

      • (i) Increase total transport capacity across the Alps, especially for freight.

      • (ii) Shift freight volumes from road to rail to reduce fatal crashes and environmental damage caused by ever-increasing numbers of heavy lorries.

      • (iii) Provide a faster connection between northern and southern Europe, cutting journey time for passenger trains by about an hour.

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