Lötschberg tunnel celebrates 100 years

It took 961 tonnes of dynamite, five years of hard work and cost the lives of 64 men for workers to pierce the middle of the Lötschberg tunnel a century ago.

This content was published on March 31, 2011 - 08:01 and agencies

The high point of the construction of the 14.6-kilometre alpine tunnel joining the cantons of Bern and Valais will be celebrated on Thursday by a symbolic train journey by dignitaries and representatives of the company BLS.

The breakthrough on March 31, 1911, was an engineering triumph. Despite an accident in 1908 which forced an 800-metre detour, the final gap between the two sides was just 10.2 centimetres vertically and 25.7 centimetres laterally.

Two years later the work was complete and the tunnel opened to traffic, speeding up the journey to and from Italy.

The tunnel at the summit lost importance after the new base tunnel entered into service in 2007, reducing travel time from north to south by one hour.

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