Swiss build world's longest tunnel In this Oct. 31, 2013 file photo construction workers are busy in the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel between Biasca and Amsteg, Switzerland. (Karl Mathis/Keystone via AP, file/Urs Flueeler/Keystone via AP, file)
Swiss build world's longest tunnel
Lexile

Just like Hannibal, Swiss engineers have conquered the Alps.
 
It has been more than 2,200 years since the commander from the ancient North African civilization of Carthage led his army of elephants and troops over Europe's highest mountain chain. Now Swiss leaders have completed another colossal task. And they did it on time. They burrowed through the world's longest railway tunnel under the Swiss Alps to ease trade and congestion in European trade and travel.
 
On June 1, Switzerland introduced the 35.4-mile Gotthard Railway Tunnel. It is a major engineering achievement deep under snow-capped peaks. The construction was carried out over 17 years at a cost of $12 billion.
 
Many tunnels crisscross the Swiss Alps. Gotthard Pass already has two. The first, also for trains, was built in 1882. But the Gotthard Base Tunnel is a record-setter. It eclipses Japan's 53.8-kilometer Seikan Tunnel as the world's longest. It bores deeper than any other tunnel, running about 1.4 miles underground at its maximum depth.
 
The thoroughfare aims to cut travel times, ease roadway traffic and draw cargo from pollution-spewing trucks. The trucks travel between Europe's north and south. The tunnel will open for commercial service in December. The two-way tunnel will take up to 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains per day.
 
Swiss planners have dreamt of such a tunnel for decades. And it should have an impact far beyond Switzerland for decades to come.
 
Switzerland pulled out all the stops for the opening. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi came for a flashy celebration featuring musical bands, dancers and even a tunnel theme song.
 
The EU turnout is little surprise. The project cuts a north-south axis through central Switzerland. It has received financial support and industrial know-how from around the European Union. Though Switzerland isn't one of the bloc's 28 members, the EU railway network will get a major boost from the shortcut through the Alps. This will be notably on the route from Germany to Italy.
 
"The new tunnel fits into the European railway freight corridor, which links Rotterdam and Genoa," said Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann.
 
He added that the tunnel will boost access "to these two important ports" in the Netherlands and Italy.
 
"Aside from saving time, more merchandise can be carried through the Alps," he said.
 
To mark the occasion, a glitzy show was held under purple neon lights. Performers dressed up in orange miners' suits and protective helmets. They danced atop a moving rail car. Meanwhile, others in costumes feigned wrestling. Trapeze artists hung from chains or ropes. A band blared out a thumping military march. And helicopters buzzed overhead.
 
The tunnel runs between the German-speaking Swiss town of Erstfeld in the north and Italian-speaking Bodio in the south. Split-screen TV images showed two trains in opposite directions entering and leaving the tunnel entrances nearly simultaneously.
 
A test run by the European leaders turned into a sort of mini-summit. Merkel, Renzi and Hollande climbed aboard in a first-class car for a ride through the tunnel. They sat alongside Schneider-Ammann.
 
A band repeatedly played Rossini's "William Tell Overture" after they arrived.
 
Merkel said it was a "wonderful feeling" to be on the train. She noted that "more than 2,000 meters of rocks" were above but that she had a "feeling of security because I believe in the security of the Swiss civil engineers."
 
"We congratulate Switzerland because they were already so punctual. And also because the costs were kept within targets," she added. "That's something Germany still needs to strive for."
 
At the peak of construction, as many as 2,400 workers took part in the project. The two holes were connected in October 2010. It occurred some 11 years after the first blast to build the tunnel. The blast took place in the last century.
 
In the tunnel, freight trains will run up to 60 miles per hour. Passenger trains will run twice that fast at first. Long-term ambitions are for up to 250 kilometers an hour. The tunnel is to shave 45 minutes off the trip from Zurich to Lugano, Switzerland.
 
Guy Parmelin is the Swiss minister of defense and civil protection. He told national television that the tunnel gives his country a chance to display its "know-how" and show "when Switzerland takes on a commitment, it keeps it."

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it better for trains to go through a tunnel, rather than over the mountains?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (19)
  • Eric0221-YYCA
    6/13/2016 - 05:07 p.m.

    Swiss had been able to build the world's longest tunnel after they had been able to succeed on going through the Alps in Europe which they had been able to build a tunnel that is longer than any other tunnels in the world. The workers had been able to make the world's longest while they are building the tunnel in the mountain alps in Europe which people would be able to use when it was finished. People would be able to use the train tunnel for faster trades and transporting people through the tunnel in the mountain alps in Europe that had been made in the mountains.
    Critical Thinking Question: Why it is better for trains to go through a tunnel, rather than over the mountains?
    Answer: I know that it is better for trains to go through a tunnel rather than over the mountains because going through a tunnel is a faster way to go through the rough obstacles over the mountains.

  • alex0509-byo
    6/13/2016 - 06:27 p.m.

    It is better to go through tunnels instead of mountains because if you go over mountains you can tip over and fall. Another way not to go over a mountain is you will be leaning sideways. You should go through a tunnel because you will not be leaning sideways. Another way you should go through a tunnel rather then riding over a mountain is it is not bumpy.

  • william1108-yyca
    6/14/2016 - 01:21 p.m.

    Woah. The tunnel looks so long. I can't believe that Swiss had made the longest train tunnel. And also by looking at the picture in the article the tunnel looks so very long. It looks so long that it might take a very long time to take a car out of that tunnel. Maybe one day I will see that long tunnel.

    Critical Thinking Question: Why it is better for trains to go through a tunnel, rather than over the mountains?

    Answer: I know that it is better for trains to go through a tunnel rather than over the mountains because going through a tunnel is a faster way to go through the rough obstacles over the mountains.

  • ben0424-yyca-byo
    6/14/2016 - 01:38 p.m.

    The tunnel is an amazing accomplishment. The tunnel will allow traveling and sending cargo faster. This tunnel will be very successful. People should give more credit to the workers. They risked their lives for the better of people. They are basically the equivalent of soldiers. People don't think of them, and more people should start. The tunnel is very successful and it is because of those workers.
    Critical Thinking Question Answer: It is better for trains to go through a tunnel rather than to go over the mountains because it will be faster than going over the mountains.

  • yuxinw-bea
    6/15/2016 - 12:24 p.m.

    The train should go through the tunnel because a tunnel is easy to past because of it rail and a mountain have twisted and turn so it much more harder.

  • keewon0801-byo
    6/28/2016 - 02:46 p.m.

    It's amazing and just... AMAZING how much workers and time it took to make that "train". Honestly I wouldn't test drive it cause... I'm a wimp. It might crash or something but it actually worked smoothly. And the Cosmetics like the music and shows they put on the train. I would love to try that train. I bet though, It WON'T be cheap.

  • sean1116-byo
    7/27/2016 - 01:16 p.m.

    I think that this tunnel is a great way to get around places faster. It can benefit us because it would take less time to go through the mountain rather than to go over it. It also takes less energy to go through a tunnel. When you go over mountains you need to use more fuel because of the steep ground. Another reason is that tunnels are more cooler than going over mountains.

  • TaylorSeifert-Ste
    7/31/2016 - 11:01 p.m.

    It is better for trains to go through a tunnel, rather than over the mountains because it saves costs on fuel and also saves time. Going over the mountains would take more energy because a train would have to travel through many inclines and declines, as well as a lot of turns. A tunnel would eliminate tricky navigation through the mountains and allow for faster transportation.

  • quintinj-orv
    8/25/2016 - 11:40 a.m.

    It is better to go through tunnels instead of mountains because if you go over mountains you can tip over and fall.

  • sophiah1-rya
    8/28/2016 - 08:32 p.m.

    Why is it better for trains to go through a tunnel, rather than over the mountains?

    Weather conditions is one reason. Cyclones, strong winds, storms, lightening and more type of unpleasant weather can damage the train track if there was no tunnel. It can be highly dangerous and can be a risk for peoples lives if a weather condition like the above happens. The train can be unsteady and can fall off the track over the mountains and can get everybody on board killed.

    A track in the mountains can be a lot faster for it has less obstacles for it to cross. It is just one track underground that can be smoothley driven over where if it was outside there could be more obstacles for it to croo such as large clumps of snow, trees falling down and others.

    It is a lot safer going underground for these reasons.




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