Friday, October 15, 2010

Gotthard Base Tunnel

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is going to be the world's longest rail tunnel when it opens in 2017. 57 kilometers long (35.4 miles), with a total of 152 km (94.3 miles) of tunnels. That includes two single-track, passageways, and shafts.

It's an incredible engineering project. It's part of the larger AlpTransit Project, which includes several base tunnels constructed thousands of feet below existing tunnels through the Alps, significantly reducing travel times - often by more than an hour - and the number of locomotives required to climb grades. The Gotthard tunnel saves almost 2000 feet of vertical over the older, shorter tunnel.

Construction started with sounding drills in 1993, and TBM (tunnel boring machines) started work in 2001. Today, major drilling was completed.

That 35.4 miles is an incredible length. That's like drilling into a mountain in Massachusetts and coming out on the other side of Rhode Island. Like starting in southwestern Connecticut and ending up on Staten Island. Like going underground in the middle of Baltimore and poking out of the ground on the White House lawn.

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