Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Swiss dig world's longest tunnel
from the bbc:
For centuries, the Alps have served as a natural trade barrier between northern and southern Europe.
Sending Italian wine to the Netherlands, or German washing machines to Greece, means a long, slow journey along narrow alpine valleys, through tunnels and over passes.
Faster than flying
As long ago as 1994, the Swiss voted in a nationwide referendum to put all freight crossing their country onto the railways. Naturally, such an ambitious plan was not going to happen overnight, but now the project dubbed the engineering feat of the 21st Century is slowly taking shape.
Deep beneath the Alps, the Swiss are building a high-speed rail link between Zurich and Milan. It will include, at 57 kilometres (35 miles), the world's longest tunnel.
A key feature of the project, which is new to alpine transport, is the fact that the entire railway line will stay at the same altitude of 500 metres (1,650ft) above sea level.
This will allow trains using the line to reach speeds of 240km/h (149mph), reducing the travel time between Zurich and Milan from today's four hours to just two-and-a-half. That would make the journey faster than flying.
makes a change from chocolates and watches...