The world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel has officially opened in Switzerland, with the nation’s leaders hoping it will revolutionise north to south European trade and take a million lorries a year off the roads.
The 35-mile twin-bore Gotthard base tunnel for high speed rail took 17 years to construct, and involved drilling machines as long as four football pitches.
Costing £8.3bn to build, the tunnel dives 2.3 km beneath the Swiss Alps and required engineers to excavate 28m tonnes of rock, which was then broken up to help make the concrete used to build the tunnel, the BBC reports.
Tragically nine tunnel miners died during the work.
When it fully opens to the public in December, 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will travel through the two-way tunnel each day, crossing the Gotthard massif at a maximum speed of 250km/h, taking about 20 minutes.
In total it could take 377,000 tonnes of freight per day, or just over 15,000 shipping containers.
The engineering feat was almost overshadowed by a bizarre opening ceremony that featured an actor suspended by wires playing an angel and wearing what appeared to be a giant baby's head - much to the apparent bemusement of watching dignitaries.