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The Gotthard Base Tunnel, a project of unprecedented scale

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By Euronews
The Gotthard Base Tunnel, a project of unprecedented scale

An unprecedented feat of engineering will be unveiled to the world on June 1, 2016: the Gotthard Base railway tunnel. Here are some facts about the record-breaking achievement:

The tunnel in figures

  • At 57,1 kilometres long, the Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest train tunnel in the world.
  • By comparison, the English Channel train tunnel is 50.5 km long, and the previous record-holder, Japan’s Seikan tunnel is 53.8 km long.
  • The total cost reached 10.9 billions euros, entirely paid for by Switzerland. It is the same as the budget of the 2012 London Olympics.
  • The construction works lasted 17 years during which work continued non-stop, with workers doing eight hours shifts.
  • Over 2,600 workers were involved in the construction; nine of them were killed on site.
  • To dig the tunnel, workers excavated 13.3 million cubic metres of rubble, five times the volume of the Great Pyramid of Giza.
  • The first Gotthard Railway tunnel, built between 1872 and 1882 is 15 kilometres long. Its construction killed 177 workers and left 700 injured.
  • At its lowest point, the tunnel is up to 2,300 metres under the surface.
  • Passengers trains will run under the mountains at up to 250 km/h and freight trains will reach 160km/h.
  • The 50 planned passenger trains going through the tunnel each day will thus take on average 20 minutes to go from one end of the tunnel to the other.
  • It takes a car 1 hour to drive the 79 kilometres of mountain road separating Erstfeld and Biasca, the two ends of the tunnel.
  • Thanks to the tunnel, a Berlin-Milan train trip will be reduced by 1 hours and 58 minutes.

An international inauguration

French president François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime minister Matteo Renzi will attend the inauguration on June 1 with Swiss president Johann Schneider-Ammann. They will take a test train ride together.

The inauguration will also see the tunnel blessed by a Catholic priest, a Protestant minister, a Rabbi and an Imam. To stay neutral – the tunnel is in Switzerland after all – a representative for atheists and non-believers will be there as well.

Over 100,000 visitors are expected for the inauguration party on June 4/5, where they will be entertained by 600 artists.

A 360° tour of the tunnel and the site

The French-speaking Swiss public television has published a spectacular 360° video presenting the building site, the tunnel, the surrounding Saint-Gotthard mountains and the history behind the Gotthard Base Tunnel.