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Gotthard: the wall has fallen!

Despite the crowd gathered in the tunnel, there is an eerie silence.

There is only the sound of the large machine eating away the last few inches of rock. The ground shakes.

All eyes are on the thin rocky barrier still dividing the tunnel. Everyone looks for the first cracks to appear, the first pieces to break off. Hearts are beating quickly: there’s lots of emotion. I’m surprised by the strength of my own feelings. I never thought I would be brought to this point at a construction site.

Suddenly, the wall collapses. There’s a roar of applause.

From the other side – behind the large cutting wheel – come cries of joy from the miners. Aida is played on a trumpet. The mountain has been conquered.

The miners hug each other. Flags wave, corks pop, fireworks go off. Tired and sweaty, I find a corner to put my thoughts down on paper. It’s warm. “It’s not easy, even for you,” a smiling Andreas Meyer – head of the Swiss Federal Railways – says to me.

I have been in the tunnel for seven hours, but the time has flown by. And I should now board the small train to take me back outside. But I’m not saying goodbye. In seven years, when the tunnel officially opens for rail traffic, I’ll be among the first to travel through it. Whoever joins me for the ride, I’ll say proudly: I was there.

Luigi Jorio, Sedrun, October 15 2010

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR