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Switzerland opens world's longest tunnel

Seventeen years in the making, the Gotthard Base Tunnel will provide a faster link under the Alps between northern and southern Europe.

Gotthard Tunnel

Switzerland yesterday won another battle in its national obsession to conquer the Alps when it opened the 35-mile (57-km) long Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Running roughly from north to south near the center of the mountainous nation, the rail tunnel will provide a direct link between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and Genoa, Italy. Now the world's longest tunnel, the Gotthard takes the number one slot from Japan's Seikan Tunnel, which runs for 33.5 miles (53.9 km) between the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido.

Once fully open in December, passenger trains will be able to travel from Zurich to Milan in 2 hours 40 minutes, cutting an hour off the current time. The actual transit through the tunnel will take about 17 minutes. The Gotthard will also carry freight trains, saving a long drive over Alpine roads by truck.

Construction of the Gotthard took 17 years and cost $12 billion (about £8.3 billion or AU$16.6 billion).