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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
  • 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

Next Story

Supreme Court Orders Ban on Construction and Demolition Works in National Capital Region

The order by the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta came while hearing matters related to air pollution, which has turned severe

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Supreme Court, Ban, Construction
The court also banned garbage burning and asked civic bodies to prevent open dumping of garbage. Pixabay

As construction and demolition works are major contributors to air pollution, the Supreme Court on Monday ordered levy of a fine of Rs one lakh against those involved in such activities and Rs 5,000 against those caught burning garbage in the National Capital Region.

The top court directed that no demolition and construction activities should take place in Delhi and the NCR, and that local administration would be held personally responsible in case of violation.

The court also banned garbage burning and asked civic bodies to prevent open dumping of garbage.

The order by the bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta came while hearing matters related to air pollution, which has turned severe.

Supreme Court, Ban, Construction
The top court directed that no demolition and construction activities should take place in Delhi and the NCR, and that local administration would be held personally responsible in case of violation. Pixabay

When the bench was told that beside stubble burning, construction activities and garbage burning are major cause of air pollution in the national capital, the court asked state governments and civic bodies to penalize the offenders.

Amicus curiae Aparajita Singh told the court that despite directions, construction and demolition are being carried out in the national capital. She also pointed out that restrictions on the construction works are only visible in the newspaper.

Raising objection to the submission, the counsel appearing for the government said there is a complete ban on construction work and it is being followed.

Officials of the Ministry of Environment and Forest and an IIT Professor also apprised the court that about the material being used in the construction activities.

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The top court, after hearing all the parties, directed that a high-level committee should hold a meeting today itself and discuss every issue which contributes to pollution, including construction works and also crop residue fires. The court said a report should be placed before it on Wednesday. (IANS)