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Swiss miners to meet in world's longest tunnel

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Swiss miners to meet in world's longest tunnel

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Miners in Switzerland are the verge of completing the world’s longest tunnel as part of an environmental project to save the Swiss Alps.

Drills are expected to meet later on Friday underneath the Gotthard Massif.

The seven billion euro railway tunnel is set to open in 2017 when it will connect the northern Alpine town of Erstfeld with Bodio in the Italian-speaking south.

At 57 kilometres, it will replace Japan’s Seikan tunnel as the world’s longest.

Swiss voters approved the project in a 1998 amid concerns over pollution in the Alpine region.

Millions of vehicles thunder through Switzerland’s rugged countryside each year, harming rare plants and wildlife and adding to the problem of erosion.

The idea is to shift that heavy traffic from the roads to the railways.