Regular passenger train services through the Gotthard Base Tunnel begin. The longest rail tunnel in the world, it is the centrepiece of the planned AlpTransit rail network that will speed people and cargo through Switzerland and under the Alps. It was inaugurated on Jun 1.
The 57km (35-mile) tunnel is expected to service 65 passenger trains per day reaching speeds of 250 kmh (155 mph), along with up to 260 freight trains. It cuts the 3.5-hour travel time from Zürich to Milan by an hour and reduces the journey from Zürich to Lugano to one hour 40 minutes.
A parallel service, running hourly, begins in the same month on the original Alpine railway link, which involves countless bridges and loop tunnels and passes through the old 15 km (9.3 mile) Gotthard tunnel, which was built in 1882.
Engineers broke through the final barrier in the new Gotthard in Oct 2010. With rock cover up to 2,300 metres (7546 feet) in depth, it is also the deepest rail tunnel in the world. It has overtaken Japan’s 53.9 km (33.5 mile) Seikan rail tunnel as the longest in the world and pushed the 50.5 km (31.3 mile) Channel Tunnel linking the United Kingdom and France into third place.