Up until recently the longest tunnel in the world connected the two Japanese islands Honshu and Hokkaido. The name of this engineering masterpiece is: Seikan Tunnel. It is 54 kilometers long of which 24 kilometers are underneath the ocean floor. It was completed in 1988. By now the Seikan Tunnel is “only” the second longest tunnel in the world.
Although not quite finished yet the new Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland already claimed the title of being the longest tunnel in the world. On October 15th 2010 two massive drills met right in the middle of a tunnel underneath the Swiss Alps marking the completion of the eastern tunnel.
Only a few months later the western tunnel was completed as well. Completion in this case means the drilling work is finished. It will be opened for traffic in 2016 or even 2017. It will be the vital puzzle piece in the new railway link through the Alps that will for the first time enable high speed and heavy freight trains to directly “cross the Alps” rather than taking the current long and winding route (Gotthardbahn).
The Gotthard Base Tunnel was the biggest tunnel building project in Europe since the completion of the Channel Tunnel that connects France and England. The new Gotthard tunnel will have a total length of 57 km making it the longest tunnel in the world.
Once completed the Brenner Base Tunnel between Innsbruck in Austria to Fortezza in Italy will be the second longest tunnel in the world with a total length of 55 km.
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