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World's longest tunnel under Swiss Alps

The Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) is a railway tunnel through the Alps in Switzerland expected to open on 2 June 2016. With a route length of 57 km (35.4 mi) and a total of 151.84 km (94.3 mi) of tunnels, shafts and passages, it will be the world's longest and deepest traffic tunnel  and the first flat low-level route through the Alps. 
The project consists of two single-track tunnels connecting Erstfeld (Uri) with Bodio (Ticino) and passing below Sedrun (Graubünden). It is part of the AlpTransit project, also known as the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA), which includes the Lötschberg Base Tunnel between the cantons of Bern and Valais and the under construction Ceneri Base Tunnel (scheduled to open late 2019) to the south. It bypasses the Gotthardbahn, a winding mountain route opened in 1882 across the Saint-Gotthard Massif, which is now operating at capacity, and establishes a direct route usable by high-speed rail and heavy freight trains. It is the third tunnel connecting the cantons of Uri and Ticino after the Gotthard Tunnel and the Gotthard Road Tunnel.
The main purpose of the Gotthard Base Tunnel is to increase total transport capacity across the Alps, especially for freight, notably on the Rotterdam-Basel-Genoa corridor, and more particularly to shift freight volumes from road to rail to reduce fatal accidents and environmental damage caused by ever-increasing numbers of heavy lorries. Another benefit will be to provide a faster connection between the canton of Ticino and the rest of Switzerland, as well as between northern and southern Europe, cutting the Zürich-Lugano-Milan journey time for passenger trains by about an hour and from Lucerne to Bellinzona to 1 hour 25 minutes. 
After 64 percent of Swiss voters accepted the AlpTransit project in a 1992 referendum, tunnel construction began in 1996.  Drilling operations in the eastern tunnel were completed on 15 October 2010 in a breakthrough ceremony broadcast live on Swiss TV,  and in the western tunnel on 23 March 2011. AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd. plan to hand over the tunnel to Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) in operating condition in December 2016;  this date was modified to 5 June 2016 on 4 February 2014 with the commencement of an 850-day opening countdown calendar on the AlpTransit homepage. Total cost of the project is 9.8 billion Swiss francs, or US$10.3 billion. 
The route over the Gotthard Pass (or through its tunnels) is one of the most important passages through the Alps on the north-south axis. Traffic has increased more than tenfold since 1980 and the existing tunnels are at their capacity limits.  A second (proposed) tunnel was to be constructed only if the volume of traffic rose above one million vehicles a year. In fact, the Engineer Giovanni Lombardi, responsible for the construction of the road tunnel added, "one year after the inauguration, the tunnel was already seeing 2.5 million vehicles [today (23 October 2011) – about six million] annually. But the promise was forgotten". 

To provide a faster and flatter passage through the Swiss Alps, the GBT cuts through the Gotthard Massif some 600 m (2,000 ft) below the older tunnel. On the current track, the Gotthardbahn, only trains up to 1,300 t (1,400 short tons; 1,300 long tons)[16] when using two locomotives or up to 1,500 t (1,700 short tons; 1,500 long tons) with an additional bank engine at the end of the train are able to pass through the narrow mountain valleys and through spiral tunnels climbing up to the portals of the old tunnel at a height of 1,100 m (3,609 ft) above sea level.
The goal of both the laws (and the goal of the GBT, which is one of the means by which the law will achieve its objective) is to transport trucks, trailers and freight containers between southern Germany and northern Italy by rail to relieve the overused roads (intermodal freight transport and so-called rolling highway where the entire truck is transported) and to meet the political requirement of shifting as much tonnage as possible from truck transport to train transport, as required by the 'Alpine Protection Act' of 1994. 

Passenger trains will be able to travel up to 250 km/h (155.3 mph) through the GBT, reducing travel times for trans-Alpine train journeys by 50 minutes, and by one hour once the adjacent Zimmerberg and Ceneri Base Tunnels are completed. In 2016, the Gotthard Base Tunnel is the longest tunnel in the world. It is the third Swiss tunnel to bear this title, after the Gotthard Tunnel (15 km, 1882) and the Simplon Tunnel (19.8 km, 1905). 
Western tunnel: 56.978 km (35.404 mi)
Eastern tunnel: 57.091 km (35.475 mi)
Total length of all tunnels and shafts: 151.84 km (94.35 mi)
Diameter of each of the single-track tubes: 8.83–9.58 m (29.0–31.4 ft)
Distance between cross passage tunnels: ca. 325 m (1,066 ft)
Maximum overburden: 2,500 m (8,200 ft) (at Piz Vatgira)
Start of construction: 1993 (sounding drills), 1996 (preparations), 2003 (mechanical excavation)
End of construction: 2016
Commissioning: May 2016
Total cost: CHF 9.74 billion[32] (as of October 2010) (US$10.1 billion)
Trains per day: 200–250
Electrification System: 15 kV, 16.7 Hz
Safety rules: The safety requirements on the rolling stock will be similar to other long Swiss tunnels, like possibility to override the emergency brake. This is in contrast to the Channel Tunnel which has several unique safety rules requiring custom made trains.
Amount of excavated rock: 28,200,000 t (31,100,000 short tons; 27,800,000 long tons),[33] (13,300,000 m3 or 17,400,000 cu yd, the equivalent of 5 Giza pyramids)
Number of tunnel boring machines (TBM): Four Herrenknecht Gripper TBMs — Machine numbers S-210 and S-211 operated northbound from Bodio to Faido and Sedrun and were nicknamed Sissi and Heidi respectively; Machines S-229 and S-230 operated southbound from Erstfeld to Sedrun and were known as Gabi I and Gabi II.
Total length: 440 m (1,440 ft) (including back-up equipment)
Total weight: 3,000 t (3,300 short tons; 3,000 long tons)
Power: 5 MW
Max. excavation daily: 25–30 m (82–98 ft) (in excellent rock conditions)
Total excavation length by TBM: about 45 km (28 mi) (for each tube)
Manufacturer: Herrenknecht, Schwanau, Germany

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