15 Oct 2010

Breaking through: Swiss smash tunnel record

Swiss engineers have used a giant drill to create the longest rail tunnel in the world.

A huge drilling machine broke through the remaining rock wall 8,200 feet (2,500 m) below the Piz Vatgira peak in the Gotthard massif.

Crowds of miners cheered and celebrated as Switzerland reclaimed the record previously set by Japan’s Seikan Tunnel.

The 35.4-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel is an important step in creating a high-speed rail network to connect all corners of Europe.

It is expected to open to trains in 2017, and aims to reduce journey times between Zurich and Milan by more than an hour.

It will allow millions of tonnes of goods currently transported through the Swiss Alps on heavy trucks to be shifted onto the rails.