Engineers have finished digging the world’s longest tunnel under the Swiss Alps. An underground ceremony marked the moment as a huge drill almost 10 metres in diameter pierced the last remaining rock.
Workers from both sides came together at the point where the two sections meet.
The Gotthard rail tunnel has taken nearly 15 years to build. At 57 kilometres, it is longer than its nearest rival, the Seikan rail tunnel in Japan, and the Channel Tunnel between Britain and France.
The statue of the Virgin Mary was put up to commemorate eight workers killed during the construction process.
The tunnel is not ready for action yet. Trains are not expected to thunder through till 2017. When they do, the journey time between Zurich and Milan could be cut by up to 90 minutes.
Officials from countries across Europe were there to witness the celebrations. Amid environmental concerns, the project is part of a drive to move freight off Switzerland’s mountain roads and onto the railways.