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A Closer Look Into the Construction of the World’s Longest Railway Tunnel

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest and deepest railway tunnel in the world.


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When the longest and deepest railway tunnel in the world opened this year, it was such a relief for the Swiss that the project is finally realized. Considered one of the most ambitious tunnel projects in the world, the Gotthard Base Tunnel took 17 years to build which original proposition dates back to 1968.


World’s longest and deepest railway tunnel (Source: Stuff NZ)

The opening of the tunnel that took place in June 1 this year was a celebration of the 35.5 miles of a new Switzerland route. It runs under the Alps and connects the Swiss municipalities of Erstfeld and Bodio.


World’s longest and deepest railway tunnel (Source: Quiet Corner)

The construction of this $12 billion railway tunnel project began in 1996. In the duration of the construction, 94 miles of underground tunnels, shafts, and passages were excavated, which involved the movement of approximately 31.1 million tons of granite, sedimentary rock, and other materials.


World’s longest and deepest railway tunnel (Source: The National UAE)


World’s longest and deepest railway tunnel (Source: Kiwi Blog)

Tunnel-boring machines were used to dig out the rocks, which covered a good 80 percent of the total bulk; while the remaining 20 percent was blasted due to the difficulty of access. To perform operations, there was an extensive ventilation network to aerate the 750-foot-deep tunnel and cool it from its ambient 114 degrees Fahrenheit.


World’s longest and deepest railway tunnel (Source: Financial Express)

More than 2,400 workers enabled the Gotthard Base Tunnel to be materialized. Unfortunately, nine deaths were committed over the construction period.

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The June 1 event graced by the Swiss Federal President Johann Schneider-Ammann was only an inauguration of the portion of the tunnel. By the end of the year, the base tunnel will fully operate which will carry 325 trains each day. The planned daily schedule for full operations include 260 freight trains traveling at 99mph and 25 passenger trains at 124mph. Eventually, such speeds will increase as trains capable to run at 155mph will arrive.

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