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Mountain tunnel Gotthard opening celebrations attract big names

The new tunnel will improve on existing services to southern Switzerland and Italy

(Keystone)

The opening of the new Gotthard rail tunnel on June 1 is attracting attention from high profile figures outside of Switzerland.

Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel, the French president François Hollande and the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, will all attend the celebrations to inaugurate the 57km long tunnel that will slice through the Swiss Alps.

In an interview published in the Swiss newspaper Blick on Thursday, Transport Minister Doris Leuthard, said that 1100 guests and around 300 journalists from around the world will be attending the function.

The inauguration will cost CHF8 million ($8.27 million). It was a sensible investment and would also go towards the safety of the guests, Leuthard said, insisting “we’re not showing off”, but that it was worthwhile to spend the money for a real celebration.

The cultural entertainment that’s being laid on as part of the programme will include 600 performers, many of them ordinary people. There will be 1000 allotted passengers who will make the first journey through the tunnel in two special trains, there will also be a public event marking the occasion on both ends of the tunnel.

Organisers are anticipating a huge interest from the public with around 100,000 people expected to turn out for the opening weekend. 


swissinfo.ch and agencies

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