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Gotthard Base Tunnel Passenger Trains Begin Transporting Riders

Image: Gotthard Base Tunnel Passenger Trains Begin Transporting Riders

A passenger train enters the south portal of the Gotthard rail tunnel between Erstfeld and Pollegio, in Pollegio, Switzerland, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2016. (Samuel Golay/Keystone,Ti-Press via AP)

By    |   Monday, 12 Dec 2016 01:38 PM

The Gotthard Base Tunnel passenger train began transporting riders Sunday through the longest train tunnel in the world — 35 miles through the Swiss Alps.

The first train from Zurich departed shortly after 6 a.m., Sunday, reaching Lugano at 8:17 a.m., local time, according to German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. Trains took thousands of test runs during the past six months preparing for Sunday.

"At 57 kilometers, the Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest railway tunnel in the world and represents the centerpiece of the New Rail Link through the Alps," the Swiss federal railways Schweizerische Bundesbahnen website said.

"It embodies Swiss values such as innovation, precision and reliability. The Gotthard Base Tunnel provides a quicker, more reliable link between north and south for both people and goods. … Faster, more frequent and more convenient services as well as new and modernized rolling stock will considerably increase the transport quality on the north-south axis," the statement continued.

Deutsche Welle stated that the ride through the tunnel takes about 20 minutes, some 30 minutes off the old north-south route.

Another 30 minutes in time will be cut from the route with a second tunnel, the roughly 10-mile Ceneri Base Tunnel opens in 2020, stated Deutsche Welle. The broadcaster stated that trains will run at a speed of 124 miles per hour for safety reasons initially before eventually increasing to 155 mph.

The tunnel took 17 years to build, costing more than $11.8 billion, The Guardian noted. The newspaper said the effort to drill the tunnel was praised throughout Europe, particularly for making advances in tunnel boring machines that replaced old blast and drill methods.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel's length surpassed the previous record set by the 33.4-mile long Seikan tunnel in Japan and the 31-mile Channel tunnel that connects Great Britain and France, according to The Guardian.

"In total, SBB expects demand for passenger services to almost double by 2025, with passenger numbers increasing from the current figure of 9,000 people to approximately 15,000 people per day," said the Schweizerische Bundesbahnen website. "More new trains will be provided in order to meet this increase in passenger demand."

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The Gotthard Base Tunnel passenger train began transporting riders Sunday through the longest train tunnel in the world - 35 miles through the Swiss Alps.
gotthard base, tunnel, passenger, train
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2016-38-12
Monday, 12 Dec 2016 01:38 PM
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