The Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) is a railway tunnel through the Alps in Switzerland expected to open on 2 June 2016. With a route length of 57 km (35.4 mi) and a total of 151.84 km (94.3 mi) of tunnels, shafts and passages, it will be the world's longest and deepest traffic tunnel and the first flat low-level route through the Alps. The incredible 35-mile long NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel now surpasses Japan’s 14.5-mile Seikan Tunnel; will transport passengers from Zurich to Milan in 2 hours and 50 minutes, shaving an hour off current time.
The Swiss Alps are an unforgiving landscape of rugged, rocky peaks and lush, green valleys. Connecting communities that would be otherwise isolated by the vast mountain range — including cultural and economic hubs like Zurich, Milan, and Turin — is no easy task. Work began on the ambitious project, which was funded by Switzerland at cost of around $10.3 billion or £6.5 billion, 20 years ago in 1996. Over 2,000 workers were drafted in to excavate more than two million truck loads of earth from as deep as 8,000 below the surface of the earth.
Geneva newspaper, TDG, reports that the first safety tests will take place in October. All scenarios will be considered and tested, said Marco Hirzel of Alptransit Gotthard at a press conference on August 24. After opening the tunnel, it will be the safest stretch of the Swiss railway network,' Renzo Simoni, CEO of AlpTransit Gotthard, told the newspaper.
In January, 1,000 people will be selected to take the maiden voyage.