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    Breakthrough at world's longest tunnel

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    ODN

    by ODN

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    Swiss engineers drilling the world's longest tunnel have broken through the last section of rock after more than a decade of work.


    The 35.5-mile (57.1km) rail tunnel under the Gotthard massif will enter service in 2017, taking some of the tens of thousands of tonnes of freight that crosses the Alps by road every day.


    Shown live on television, a 10m-wide drill ceremonially ground away the last few centimetres of rock.


    Swiss Environment and Transport Minister Moritz Leuenberger said: "Together we risked a lot. Together we achieved a lot, because we know the mountain is large but we are small."


    The project is costing more than 12 billion Swiss francs (£7.8 billion), and has claimed the lives of eight workers.


    More than 200 trains travelling at speeds of up to 150 mph will be able to pass through the tunnel each day and the amount of freight transported will nearly double to about 40 million tonnes per year. The tunnel will reduce the travel time between from Zurich and Milan by an hour.