The world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel has officially opened in Switzerland, after almost two decades of construction work.
The 57-kilometre (35-mile) twin-bore Gotthard base tunnel will provide a high-speed rail link under the Swiss Alps between northern and southern Europe.
International news channels showed, European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern were travelling in the first train crossing the tunnel.
The tunnel has been constructed at the cost of 12 billion dollars.
The tunnel has overtaken Japan’s 53.9-kilometre Seikan rail tunnel as the longest in the world and pushed the 50.5-kilometre Channel Tunnel linking the UK and France into third place.
About 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will pass through the tunnel each day in a journey taking as little as 17 minutes. When full services begin in December, the journey time for travellers between Zurich and Milan will be reduced by an hour to two hours and 40 minutes.