World’s Longest Tunnel Sees Swiss Engineers

World’s longest rail tunnel, 57.1km long (35.5miles), under Gotthard massif is expected to be operational in 2017. It will share the load of tens of thousands of tons of cargo currently carried through roads daily across Alps. This project estimates 12 billion Swiss francs and took 8 workers’ lives.

The great dig of mountain figures 13 million cubic meters of rock. It is said to equal the five times greater amount of rock of Egypt’s great pyramid.

Swiss engineers drilled the last part of rock on Friday, with a 10 meter-wide drill, it was shown live on TV and was well celebrated by the nation. All workers were really geared up and cheered the moment to the maximum. It’s a combined effort from many, which is expanded over a decade or so.

The Swiss minister for Environment and Transport Moritz Leuenberger told that though they were really tiny and small in front of the huge mountain, they had to have a lot of risk but together they achieved a great success as well. Spot light was on this ceremony as it seemed a national ceremony, uniting the whole nation.

Alps Transit Gotthard, who is also building the tunnel, told that the freight is expected to get double a year, about 40 million tons, when trains in excess of 200 would whistle past the tunnel at a thundering speed of 250km/h per day.

Before this historic tunnel, which will be ready in 2017, longest tunnel was the Seikan rail tunnel in Japan which connects Island Honshu and Island Hokkaido, the two Japanese Islands. It was 53.85km (33.46 miles) long and built undersea, was operational in 1988. Its followed by 50.45km (31.35 miles) long rail tunnel connecting two countries, Britain and France. It’s also under water and amazingly the deepest point is 250 ft deep into the water.