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News Entry# 288681
  
Dec 15 2016 (08:53)  Under the Swiss Alps, the world's longest, deepest railway tunnel (timesofindia.indiatimes.com)
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Posted by: rdb*^  129287 news posts
As many as 16,000 people participated in a lottery to travel by train through the world's longest and deepest railway tunnel. And a 1,000 lucky ones got to be the first to go through the new 57-kilometre Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) in Switzerland on Sunday, when it was formally opened to the public.
"It's Christmas," Andreas Meyer, the chief of the Swiss national rail service, was quoted as saying by the Swiss news agency ATS after the journey through the GBT.
The tunnel, designed and built by SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen) and its partners,
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was largely made possible by technical advances in tunnel-boring machines, which are now used instead of the earlier dangerous and expensive blast-and-drill method.
The GBT's depth is a maximum of 2,300 metres and it goes under the Swiss Alps. This pioneering project took 17 years and cost 11 billion Euros (Rs 789 billion).
The new tunnel, which goes through the Saint Gotthard Massif, reduces the time taken to travel between Geneva and Zurich by about 40 minutes. The 270-odd km ride between the two cities usually takes four hours. When another tunnel, the 15-km-long Ceneri Base Tunnel, opens in late 2020 it will shave up to an hour off the Geneva-Zurich trip.
Trains that go through the tunnels will initially travel at 200 kilometres per hour (124 mph), for safety reasons. Thereafter, the speed will increase to 250 kmph.
The new GBT tunnel pushed Japan's 53.9-km Seikan Tunnel into second place and the 50.5-km Channel Tunnel, which links England to France, into third place. And therefore the Swiss have reason to celebrate.
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The GBT was ceremonially inaugurated in June. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande were among the first people to ride a train inside the tunnel.
This correspondent was among the few thousand to be on a train that went into Gotthard between June and December, before it was formally opened to the public on Sunday.
A ceremonial passport handed out to passengers going through the tunnel.
Because the GBT is so deep, it required a unique ventilation system powered by a drive. The power supply and drive systems provided for the GBT by ABB Switzerland are rated at 15.6 MW. That is, the drive requires power equivalent to that of 80 Formula E cars.
The tunnel features a unique drive-powered ventilation system
"We are particularly proud to be part of this infrastructure project of the century; it's a masterpiece of technology and of project management," said ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer, who attended the official inauguration of the tunnel in June.
It isn't just the Swiss who will benefit from the GBT. The trade corridor between Rotterdam in the Netherlands and the Adriatic Sec that cuts across Europe will also benefit greatly from the GBT. Over 200 freight trains are expected to pass through the tunnel each day.
Why this is relevant for India
Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, recently laid the foundation stone for a station in Manipur's Imphal, which will have India's longest rail tunnel.
This tunnel here will be 11.5 km long. The total length of the line will be 111 km and it will comprise a total 37 tunnels. The line will have the world's tallest girder rail bridge.
"There can be meaningful development only when there is physical communication as well as a meeting of minds," Prabhu said on the occasion.
India has close to 20 mountain rail tunnels - they range from the 11,200-metre Pir Panjal tunnel and six other tunnels that are between 4,000-6,000 metres. These include one of Asia's oldest tunnels, the Parsik tunnel in Maharashtra. The Konkan Railway in Maharashtra, stretching 760 kms, with 59 stations, 92 tunnels and 2,328 bridges is also one of India's standout railway projects.
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