The planet becomes smaller by revealing the longest and most profound railway tunnel ever built — a feat that will slash travel times in Europe under the Alps.

Gotthard Train Tunnel

The Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) in Switzerland has been built up to seventeen years and cut through solid rock, up to 7,500 feet long. This cost $12 billion – and eight workers ‘lives.

The weather is frequently different at either entrance due to the micro-conditions in the Alpine zone. It includes enough copper cable within to reach San Antonio, Texas, from New York City.

The project also identifies one of the most severe natural barriers to trade and tourism in the continent: the lack of a high-speed road through a mountain range located on four countries ‘crossroads.

The ceremony is to be held at Ritzy Wednesday in the completion of the 35.5-mile tunnel, as are German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. 

New trains will start testing in days, and planned services will begin in December. Claire Smith, a former geotechnical engineer, now editor of the British journal Ground Engineering said: “It’s an incredible idea, a massive achievement. 

Several existing tunnels use trains or cars and trucks, but they all fall well short of their design capacity, due to the traffic level.

The new route offers much lower gradients, allowing passenger trains to travel up to 155 miles per hour, reducing travel time, from just over four hours to two and a half hours, between Zurich, Switzerland and Milan, Italy.

In the north-south freight corridor of Switzerland, the twin tunnels — one for one direction— would also more than double the capacity of transportation from 22 to at least 44 million tons a year. The emissions in the Alpine air can be minimized by moving goods between Lorries and trains and by reducing the likelihood of fiery road accidents that have cost several lives already.

GBT’s great ambition is expressed in the scope of its architecture. It took 31 million tons of rock to excavate, enough to construct the equivalent of five pyramids in Egypt, with the help of giant boring machines which spanned nearly four NFL soccer fields.

Smith added that the tunnels needed to be air-conditioned to control natural temperatures up to 100 degrees inside the mountain. “They were boring through tough rocks,” she said.

“We are thinking of depths measured in kilometers, and this is not like a [subway] line a few meters below the water. Working down there, it gets colder when you go on. “This is both the deepest and the longest rail tunnel in the world. (A complete subway line spanning a total of 37.5 km in Guangzhou, China.)

A Brief Detail Switzerland Deepest and longest Railway

It is the longest rail tunnel in the world. It has a total distance of 55,782 kilometers (34,661 mi) between the two portals. It is also the first level route in the Alps and any other significant mountain range, with a maximum height of 549 meters, with a length of 57.09 kilometers, with a total distance of 151,84 km (94,3 miles) between tunnels, shafts, and passages, with a full range of 151,681 mi. 

This is the world’s longest rail tunnel with an estimated depth of 2,450 meters, close to that of the longest mines in the world. The temperature inside the mountain is up to 46 ° C (115 ° F) without ventilation.

Gotthard Base Tunnel connects two Alpine valleys through the Sainte Gotthard massif as well as two other tunnels under the Gotthard: Urner Russ Valley, which flows along the Reuss River, and Valle Leventina, which is the largest valley in the Ticino region.

In comparison to most other tunnels in the Gotthard Base Tunnel, two of them are critical the Glarus Alps, subranges of the Alps, and the Saint Gotthard Massif. They are situated in the Anterior Rhine valley, between them the Surselva River and the Canton of Graubünden.

The tunnel extends more than 2 km beneath the Chrüzlistock (2,709 m) and the Piz Vatgira (2,983 m) near the Lukmanier pass. The tunnel is more than 6,600 ft. below the two rows of tunnels. The Surselva is primarily romanesque, although the Uri and the Ticino cantons are part of Switzerland’s German and Italian speaking regions.


The Alps have a substantial impact on the European climate. Particularly in Switzerland – and on each end of the GBT, weather conditions can differ significantly, defined by Ticino architect Mario Botta: “The light shift in the Gotthard: the Mediterranean Sea is not the same as the continent; the central lands, the sea in Europe.”

The building was under the control of AlpTransit Gotthard AG. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) CFF FFS is a wholly-owned company.

Four access tunnels were designed to cut construction time in half so that construction could be started simultaneously in four separate sites: Erstfeld, Amsteg, Sedrun, and Faido. Later a fourth was added in Bodio. The two tunnels link by connecting galleries approximately each 325 m (1066 ft). The two multifunctional stations of Sedrun and Faido can be linked by trains from the tunnels. Such stations have ventilation and operational services for emergencies and evacuation routes. Such stations are located here.

The entrance of the Sedrun railway station is through a 1 km (0.6 mi) highway from the valley floor near Sedrun. Two vertical shafts lead down to the base tunnel stage at the end of the entry tunnel 800 m (2,625 ft). On that site, a plan was evaluated for the establishment of a functioning railway station named the Porta Alpina station (Roemansh’s “Alpine Gate”). Still, in 2007 the project was placed into operational mode, and in 2012 the federal authorities indeed canceled it as non-economic.

On August 30, 2013, the tunnel was first completely crossed in six hours by diesel train, bus and foot from Bodio to Erstfeld. The operational test phase in the southern part of the tube between Bodio and Faido began on December 16, 2013, which included a 13-kilometer section. The purpose of the railway infrastructure test and all auxiliary systems was completed on October 31, 2014. A Gold sleeper was mounted on the very last part of the line, to mark this landmark of progress.

The first tests on the whole GBT length with gradually increasing speed were carried out on October 1, 2015, following the approval from the Federal Transport Office. The average speed of a train was 275 km / h on November 8.


Single-track tube diameter: 8.83–9.58 meters (29.0–31.4 ft)

Width from crossing tube: roughly. 325 square meters.

Crossing tubes number: 178 Numbers

Primary overload: 2,450 m (at Piz Vatgira) Maximum load capacity:

Building starts: 1993 (sounding drills), 1996 (processing preparations), November 4, 1999 (official starting, first blasting)

Breakthrough: October 15, 2010 (Ostpipe), March 23, 2011 (West Pipe)

In between: May 2016

Regular passengers start: December 11, 2016 (see schedule # Switzerland of public transportation)

Net expenses: CHF 9.560 billion

Passenger train travel time – 20 minutes [Travel time]

The size of the excavation rock: twelve hundred thousand tons (31 hundred thousand short tons), 13.3 hundred thousand m3 or 17.4 hundred thousand cubic tons, equal to five Giza pyramids.

Maximum lengths: 440 m (including facilities for backup) Length:

Weight total:  3,000 tons (3,300 tons short; 3,000 tons long).

Capacity: 5 MW.Full. Daily excavation: 25–30 m (82–98 ft.) (in good rock conditions).