Swiss build world's longest tunnel
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
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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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Why is it better for trains to go through a tunnel, rather than over the mountains?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • billy-rya
    8/28/2016 - 08:46 p.m.

    It's better go under the mountains because it saves a lot of time,resources and it is easier to build a big tunnel than a gaint highway over the alps and also who wouldn't want to go through the worlds longest tunnel (You get bragging rights)

  • carmi-rya
    8/28/2016 - 08:51 p.m.

    It is better for the trains to go through the mountains rather than over them because it is much faster. This is because they don't have to go up an down mountains and other obsticals. It might mean having to use more money but in the long term it will be much faster and better.

  • james-rya
    8/28/2016 - 10:29 p.m.

    It is better for trains to go through a tunnel because it is faster as you can go straight through the mountain instead of up the mountain and then go back down.It is also easier to carry heavy cargo because it is harder to go up a mountain carrying heavy cargo but it is easier if you just go through a tunnel.It is also quicker because it will go at 60 miles an hour.It is 45 minutes quicker from Zurich to Lugano.

  • sierrab-ste
    9/07/2016 - 02:53 p.m.

    According to this it is safer to go through tunnels then over a mountain, however I personally hate going through tunnels so I would much rather go over the mountain and risk my life that way.

  • emmas1-pav
    9/12/2016 - 10:02 a.m.

    I think the tunnel is needed and a very good idea. It costed a lot of money but is worth it in my opinion.

  • garrettw-bla
    9/15/2016 - 11:41 a.m.

    It is better to go through the tunnel in the alps because it can take off a lot of the time it would take to go over the mountains. I think this is a good advancement because the train can move people and merchandise from one place to another much quicker than other forms of transportation.

  • hayleel-ste
    9/21/2016 - 01:38 p.m.

    he 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 mountain

  • ethans2-stu
    10/06/2016 - 02:38 p.m.

    i think it int safe for trains to go in tunels because what if it cloapsed on the train?

  • noahr-ste
    5/01/2017 - 01:46 p.m.

    Holy Cow. This changes my whole entire view of the world. Good for them.

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