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Gotthard base tunnel Longest rail tunnel clears major safety hurdle

Passenger and freight trains were put through their paces on Monday in the new Gotthard Base Tunnel. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

In the first large scale passenger safety tests, a total of 48 Intercity and Eurocity passenger trains and 40 freight trains passed through the Alpine tunnel, ahead of a full service being launched in December. 

The tunnel, with a route length of 57.09 km (35.5 miles), was inaugurated in the summer. It is the world's longest and deepest traffic tunnel and the first flat, low-level route through the Alps.

The infrastructure connects Erstfeld in canton Uri with Bodio in Ticino. Its main purpose is to increase local transport capacity and to shift heavy goods from trucks to freight trains, making the roads safer and reducing the environmental damage caused by growing numbers of heavy trucks. 

On Monday, passengers using the Alpine route arrived early at their destinations, because everything is quicker with the new system, and had to wait 20 minutes for connecting trains. The waiting time will be eliminated with a new timetable in December.

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