The Gotthard Base Tunnel opened three days ago and full service will soon begin. But the project took a while to complete and the country had a number of challenges along the way. The gigantic tunnel that goes through the Alps in Switzerland will reduce the environmental damage and will provide a faster connection to other European countries. But there are more things that you should know about the world’s longest tunnel, which carried hundreds of Swiss citizens and guests on June 1.
Here are ten things you should know about the Gotthard Base Tunnel:
- The construction of this tunnel began back in 1996. The project received support from more than 60 percent of Swiss voters and had been accepted in 1992.
- It opened on June 1 but full service will begin in six months. The first ride carried Swiss citizens and a few guests, including politicians from Europe.
- The tunnel is not only the world’s longest but also the deepest.
- Nine people lost their lives during construction. A day before it opened, the nine people who died were commemorated in a ceremony. A bronze memorial plaque with their names was also unveiled.
- Four tunnel boring machines, manufactured by Germany, were used during construction. The four machines were each given a nickname. Part of a used tunnel boring machine is now on display at the Pollegio Control Center.
- The total projected cost was a little over $10 billion but the final cost was more than $12 billion.
- The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the world’s longest tunnel but not the first in the country to have that title. The first was in 1882 and the second in 1905. The tunnel is almost four times longer than the first one and almost three times longer than the second one.
- Passenger trains will travel at more than 150 miles per hour. This will reduce travel times by almost an hour. It will be reduced even more when nearby tunnels are complete.
- The project was divided in four sections and construction began at four different areas. This helped reduce construction time. A fifth section was later added to the project.
- The tunnel not only helps reduce truck and car crashes but also helps the environment. It also creates a much faster connection between nearby countries.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel is scheduled to begin full service in December 2016.