2016-06-01 12:22:00

Longest train tunnel inaugurated in Switzerland

(Vatican Radio) After nearly two decades of construction, Switzerland is set to officially inaugurate the world’s largest railway tunnel which has been built into the heart of the Swiss Alps.

Listen to Ann Schneible’s report:

The project has taken 17 years to complete and cost billions in Swiss francs. But, the 57 kilometer Gotthard Base tunnel through the Swiss Alps promises to help better connect northern and southern Europe.

After it officially opens for commercial service in December following numerous tests to ensure its safety, as many as 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will pass through the tunnel per day.

It is hoped that the tunnel will take pressure off the roadway traffic, amid concerns that the local ecosystem is being damaged by the pollution.

A grand opening for the new railway is scheduled for Wednesday, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi are expected to join Swiss officials for the celebrations.

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