New stage reached in world's longest tunnel

Miners celebrate after the second breakthrough Keystone

Excavation work on the world’s longest rail tunnel under the Gotthard was completed on Wednesday, with the breakthrough of the second tube.

This content was published on March 23, 2011 minutes

The last metres of rock in the west tunnel were pierced five months after the breakthrough in the east tube of the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Work now focuses on lining the two single track tunnels, each 57 kilometres long, and installing the infrastructure. The work is already underway in some stretches.

AlpTransit Gotthard, the company building the tunnel, is due to hand it over to  Swiss Federal Railways at the end of May 2016.  It is scheduled to open to traffic in 2017.

The total Gotthard system, where construction stared in 1996, is about 152 kilometres long, including access tunnels and shafts.

About 56 per cent was excavating by tunnel boring machine, and the rest by drilling and blasting. More than 28 million tonnes of rock was removed from the mountain.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel has taken over the world record from the Seikan tunnel in Japan, which has a length of 53.85 kilometres.

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