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.
The new Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland is now officially the longest tunnel in the world. It is 57 kilometres long and a technical masterpiece. There is a predecessor called the Gotthard Tunnel, which was 16.9 kilometres long and for a long time the fourth longest road tunnel in the world. It was opened in 1980. This obviously is not the one we are referring to here. The record breaking tunnel is the Gotthard Base Tunnel.
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.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel was officially opened for traffic on June 1st 2016. It is 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 tunnel can manage 200-260 freight trains per day and 65 passenger trains. The latter can go up to 200 km/h through the tunnel. Freight trains are limited to 160 km/h.
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 has 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.