Longest rail tunnel - The Gotthard Base Tunnel sets world record
SEDRUN, Switzerland--After 14 years of construction the 57 km (34 miles) of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in the Swiss Alps was finally completed when a giant drilling machine nicknamed Sissi cut through the last slice of rock to connect both ends
- setting the new world record for the Longest Rail Tunnel.
Photo: The machine nicknamed Sissi has completed the world's longest tunnel, excavating enough rock to build five Egyptian pyramids. Photo: AFP / Fabrice Coffrini (enlarge photo)
Under the roar of the drill, miners shouted and clinked glasses, as their tunnel was completed. The tunnel is just over 3 km longer than the Seikan rail tunnel in Japan, which at 53.9 km had previously been the longest rail tunnel in the world.
The World's Longest Rail Tunnel is due to be operational by the end of 2017. Including access passageways, the structure comprises a total of 158.1 kilometres of tunnel.
When the high-speed rail link opens in 2017, the project will take up to 300 trains daily underneath the Alps.
"We cannot wait for the final breakthrough," said Rahel Probst, a spokesman for the AlpTransit rail network constructing the tunnel. "Everyone who has worked on this project is very proud to have taken part in a work that will be a world record."
Since laying the tunnel's preparations in 1996, around 2,500 workers have taken part in building the 10bn Swiss franc (£6.6bn) project, blasting their way through 13m cubic metres of rock in artificially lowered temperatures that still reached 28C.
"The Gotthard Base tunnel is a milestone on the way to taking freight traffic off the road and on to rail," said Peter Fueglistaler, director of the Swiss Federal Transport Office. The previous Guinness World record for the Longest Rail Tunnel was the Seikan rail tunnel, Japan, 53.8 kilometres, a Single-bore undersea tunnel connecting the main Japanese island of Honshu to the northern island of Hokkaido.
Guinness World Records also recognized a train tunnel beneath Atlantic Ave., built in 1844, as the oldest subway tunnel. The tunnel, which reaches from Columbia St. almost to Boerum Place in Cobble Hill, made the area safer for pedestrians.
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