Switzerland is getting ready for a fancy-dress opening of its newest engineering marvel. The Gotthard Base Tunnel, drilled through 35 miles of solid rock, is the longest and deepest railway tunnel ever constructed, and its opening will draw visits from the French President, the Chancellor of Germany and the Prime Minister of Italy.
All those countries will benefit by speedier times for cargo and passengers through the Alps; the double-track tunnel, under construction for 17 years, goes through the base of the mountain range, saving the long hauls up to the entrances of the current tunnel. It cost $12 billion, and was finished on time and on budget.
Trains, running at up to 155 mph, will start using the tunnel in December after tests. It will sharply reduce times; Zurich to Milan will go from over 4 hours to 2-1/2.