The World Has a New Longest Tunnel

35-mile tunnel will carry rail passengers beneath the Swiss Alps
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2015 1:17 PM CDT
The World Has a New Longest Tunnel
A miner working on the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland stands in front of a drill machine in 2010. Completion of the 35-mile tunnel, the world's longest, was announced Monday.   (AP Photo/Christian Hartmann,Pool, File)

Switzerland is now officially home to the longest railway tunnel in the world: the 35-mile-long NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel, Business Insider reports. Construction has wrapped up, and passengers will soon be able to travel from Zurich to Milan in just under three hours—an hour less than the previous travel time, according to a previous feature in the Telegraph. They'll do so while riding at 150mph under the Swiss Alps. The tunnel is more than twice the length of the world's previous longest tunnel: the 14.5-mile Seikan Tunnel in Japan, Business Insider notes.

Construction on the $10.3 billion project started in 1996, according to the tunnel's Wikipedia page. In addition to more than 2,000 workers, drilling machines named "Gaby" and "Sissy" churned through the earth while a statue of Saint Barbara, patron saint of miners, watched over all, according to Reuters (which presents a photo gallery). Safety testing is scheduled to start Oct. 1, with passenger and freight trains beginning operations in June. Authorities will pick 1,000 people for the maiden voyage, reports the French-language Tribune de Genève. Let's hope none of them try to hold their breath. (More tunnels stories.)

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