The Gotthard base tunnel, which opened on June 1, 2016, is the longest railway tunnel in the world with the length of more than 57 kilometers. Workers dug a tunnel in the Alpine mountains to create a route between the cities of Erstfeld and Bodio in Switzerland. The main purpose of the tunnel is to increase the capacity for transferring the freight and people across the Alps and reducing the number of roads accidents and environmental damage caused by heavy trucks on the Alpine roads. The tunnel is also the deepest tunnel in the world, which is placed below 2,450 meters of hard rock.
The length of the tunnel is 57.09 kilometers (35.5 miles) and the total tunnels, shafts, and passages are 151.84 kilometers (94.3 miles), which is the longest and deepest traffic tunnel in the world. It is the first flat, low-level route that runs through the Alps and connects the north to the south of Switzerland. The Swiss government has spent more than $10.8 billion on the construction of the tunnel. It is expected that 260 freight trains and 65 trains for transporting passengers will pass through the tunnel each day. In the first year after the opening of the tunnel, 9,000 passengers are scheduled to travel daily. The figure is expected to reach 15,000 by 2020. It will take about 17 minutes for trains to cross the Gotthard base tunnel. The record for the longest tunnel in the world previously belonged to the Sikan tunnel with a length of 53.9 kilometers in Japan.
For building this tunnel, more than 24 million tons of rocks were evacuated from the mountains. During the construction, nine workers lost their lives. In the construction of the Gotthard tunnel, about 4 million cubic meters of concrete were consumed, 84 times that of concrete used in the Empire State Building in New York. According to the Swiss government, 377,000 tons of goods, equivalent to 15,800 containers per day, will be diverted through this tunnel.
The project was launched in 1992 based a popular referendum on people approving which 64 percent of the voters accepted the project accepted the “New Railway Link through the Alps” project. Then, its construction began it about 18 years ago. The presence of European leaders including Francois Hollande, the president of France, Matheo Rentice, Italian prime minister, Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission at the opening ceremony of the tunnel, illustrate the importance of this tunnel in the European economy.
Fantastic Gotthard connecting Europe!