Friday, October 15, 2010

Switzerland: Construction: Break-thru by massive tunnel-drill creates longest route under mountain -- for trains

Associated Press reports today's big break-thru in the new European rail-line that will use what will become the world's longest tunnel.  Until now Japan had held that record. The tunnel has been mined under the Swiss Alps which, until the new transport route opens, is traversed daily by long lines of trucks driving along mountain roads.  The tunnel will eventuate the de-industrialization of the mountain passes, like that of Saint Bernard as you motor your automobile into the marvellous town of Aosta on the Italian s+d of the mountain. The AP report appears today in Toronto's Globe and Mail with a pix of the massive drill-head that has become the hero of the construction operation.  Frank Jordans, "Swiss smash through mountain to create world's longest tunnel" (Oct15,2k10).

Swiss engineers have smashed through the last stretch of rock to create the longest tunnel in the world.

A gigantic drilling machine broke the remaining wall 2,500 metres below the imposing Piz Vatgira peak in the Gotthard massif several minutes ahead of schedule Friday afternoon.

Miners, VIPs and journalists inside the tunnel cheered as Switzerland reclaimed the tunnel record from Japan's Seikan Tunnel.

The 57-kilometre Gotthard Base Tunnel is an important milestone in the creation of a high-speed rail network connecting all corners of Europe.

It will allow millions of tons of goods that are currently transported through the Alps on heavy trucks to be shifted onto the rails, particularly the economically important link between the Dutch port of Rotterdam and Italy's Mediterranean port of Genoa.

“It's a day of joy for Switzerland,” said Peter Fueglistaler, director of Switzerland's Federal Office of Transport. “We are not a very emotional people but if we have the longest tunnel in the world, this also for us is very, very emotional.”
The unbearable conditions faced by motorists on the Alpine roads, thru its mountain passes, have at last been amerliorated.  And the burden of carrying goods from Italy to Switzerland, and back again, has begun to shift toward future rail freit.  It all makes good economic sense, also an aesthetic relief on the roads that shoud in a couple of years see a huge reduction in truck traffic.

-- EconoMix

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