Breakthrough for the World's Longest Tunnel
After almost one and a half decades of construction a ten-metre wide drilling machine broke through the final metres of the new Gotthard Base Tunnel in southern Switzerland.
The 57 km long tunnel, which connects the northern and the southern Alps, is the largest in the world. The Swiss tunnel is even longer than the Seikan rail tunnel in Japan and the Channel Tunnel linking France and Great Britain. Travelling from southern Germany to northern Italy will be shortened by about an hour and a half.
The Gotthard tunnel reaches a height of only 550 metres, the lowest altitude of all trans-Alpine tunnels. High speed passenger trains and cargo trains will be able to travel at a speed of up to 250 km/h (about 150 mph) . About 300 trains are scheduled to use the tunnel every day.
The European Union hopes that with the opening of the new tunnel more and more cargo will be transported by rail. Environmentalists hope that by placing more and more goods on trains air pollution will be reduced. Right now, about 1.2 million lorries travel through the Swiss countryside every year leading to the destruction of animal and plant life and contributing to global warming.
The new Gotthard tunnel , however, is not completed yet. The first trains won't run until 2017.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel
- altitude = height of an object
- base = bottom , the lower part of
- cargo = goods and products that are transported on a ship, truck or train
- complete = finish
- construction = building
- contribute = here: lead to, cause
- decade = a period of gen years
- drill = to make a hole into hard rock
- lorry = a large car that carries goods ; truck
- environmentalist = a person who cares about protecting and saving the world around us
- reduce = to make smaller
- shorten = to make shorter
- trans-Alpine = across the Alps