The longest railway tunnel in the world was completed on October 15, 2010 in Switzerland when the last two meters of rock were drilled through. 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. 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.
After the final breakthrough, jubilant miners carrying flags representing the regions of Switzerland involved in the construction walked through the opening.
Completion of the Gotthard Base Tunnel will cut the travel time between Zurich and Milan in Italy by 60 minutes to two-and-a-half hours and provide an easier and more economic route for heavy freight trains. The tunnel -- which is in fact composed of two single-track tunnels -- cost $10.6 billion (£6.6 billion).
Since the first preparations for the tunnel were laid in 1996, over 2,500 workers have taken part in its building according to AlpTransit Gotthard, the company constructing the tunnel. It is due to be operational by the end of 2017.
Pictures: Reuters, AFP
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