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Gotthard Base Tunnel: Switzerland completes the construction of the world’s largest tunnel in 17 Years

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Swiss Federal President Johann Schneider-Ammann, right, speaks with French President Francois Hollande, left, on the opening day of the Gotthard rail tunnel, the longest tunnel in the world, at the fairground Rynaecht at the northern portal in Erstfeld, S. Image source: Reuters
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  • It took 17 years for the Swiss tunnelers to complete World’s largest tunnel
  • It is called Gotthard Base Tunnel, officially opened on June 1, 2016
  • Celebrations started on Wednesday June 1, 2016
  • The rail will be open for travelers this year, in December 2016

In this day and age everyone wants fast. Faster internet connection, faster customer service, faster results. In 1947 Swiss engineer Carl Eduard Gruner was dreaming about faster transportation. Switzerland’s Gotthard base tunnel is a staggering 35.4 miles long, and a mile and a half under the Gotthard mountain range. This tunnel stretches from Erstfeld and Bodio. The tunnel cuts commute time from Zurich to Milan by 45 minutes; that is fast.

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Before opening the tunnel as a means of public transportation, the Swiss wanted to take the time to commemorate and celebrate such an amazing feat. The tunnel’s website says that the tunnel presents to the world, “Swiss values such as innovation, precision and reliability.” The celebration was far from just being a combination of Swiss values. Modern dances accompanied the opening of the tunnel, and drew much of the attention.

Swiss police officers stand beside of mock gates of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel inside the event hall for the upcoming opening ceremony near the town of Erstfeld, Switzerland May 31, 2016. Image source: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
Swiss police officers stand beside of mock gates of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel inside the event hall for the upcoming opening ceremony near the town of Erstfeld, Switzerland May 31, 2016. Image source: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

One dance number featured dancers who wore orange construction suits an boots. They danced on and near a flatcar. Another dance featured an angelic like creatures. The dancers danced in what appeared to be white briefs. One dancer suck out wearing wings and an oversized head. One other dance number spectators watched the dancers move about the tunnel wearing suits that were said to be, “a cross between a pom-pom and a hay bale.” These dance numbers all pay tribute to the Gotthard mountain range, and the significance it holds in Swiss society.

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Dancers and spectators were the majority of people who attended the opening of the tunnel. The inauguration of this milestone also drew attention from the leaders of the EU; German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The opening also featured the traditional playing of alphorns. With this, the tunnel was blessed and the tunnel’s theme song was played.

The festivities do not stop there. This weekend a festival is planned to occur on both sides of the tunnel. There will also be a train commuting people through the tunnel from one end to the other.

This $12 billion monstrosity of a tunnel was completed on time, and Gruner’s dream came true. After 17 years of construction, 9 deaths, and $1,300 of taxes added to each person, this marvel of a tunnel has been opened. In December, the rail will be open for travelers.

Abigail Andrea is an intern at NewsGram. Twitter handle: @abby_kono

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  • Shivang Goel

    Amazing to read and know when India was coming above racial race;Independence, Swedish were thinking far too much; but the way India has progressed in recent years is marvelous according to international standards; this is a huge feat and should be celebrated for days and weeks;
    Indias pir panjal tunnel is hardly 12 kms while this is extremely amazing a 57km stretch

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The European Union Warns Facebook Over Consumer’s Data Usage

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration. VOA

The European Union’s consumer protection chief said Thursday she’s growing impatient with Facebook’s efforts to improve transparency with users about their data, warning it could face sanctions for not complying.

EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova turned up the pressure on the social media giant, saying she wants the company to update its terms of service and expects to see its proposed changes by mid-October so they can take effect in December.

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European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova attends an interview with Reuters at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. VOA

“I will not hide that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years and I really want to see, not the progress — it’s not enough for me — but I want to see the results,” Jourova said.

The EU wants Facebook to give users more information about how their data is used and how it works with third party makers of apps, games and quizzes.

“If we do not see the progress the sanctions will have to come,” she said. She didn’t specify punishment, saying they would be applied by individual countries. “I was quite clear we cannot negotiate forever, we just want to see the result.”

The EU has been pressing the U.S. tech company to look at what changes it needs to make to better protect consumers and this year Facebook has had to adapt to new EU data protection rules. The concerns took on greater urgency after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal erupted, in which data on 87 million Facebook users was allegedly improperly harvested.

Jourova said she hopes Facebook will take more responsibility for its nearly 380 million European users.

“We want Facebook to be absolutely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money,” she said.

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An advertisement in The New York Times is displayed on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in New York. Facebook’s CEO apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal with ads in multiple U.S. and British newspapers. VOA

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

The company said it “will continue our close cooperation to understand any further concerns and make appropriate updates.”

Jourova also said U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers.

Airbnb has promised to be fully transparent by either including extra fees in the total price for a booking quoted on its website or notifying users that they might apply, she said.

 

EU
U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers. Flickr

The company is complying with EU demands spurred by concerns that consumers could be confused by its complicated pricing structure, which could add unexpected costs such as cleaning charges at the end of a holiday.

Airbnb is also changing its terms of service to make it clear that travelers can sue their host if they suffer personal harm or other damages. That’s in response to complaints that its booking system can leave tourists stranded if the rental is canceled when all other arrangements have been already made.

Also Read: EU Regulators Question Online Retailer Amazon’s Data Usage

Airbnb said “guests have always been aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, before booking listings,” and will work with authorities to make it even clearer. (VOA)