A giant step in the construction of the Gotthard Base Tunnel under the Swiss Alps took place last week when miners bored through the final section of rock.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel stretches a staggering 57 kilometres and is now the longest tunnel in the world.

Miners have been using a massive tunnel boring machine 800 metres deep. A special breakthrough ceremony took place Friday after the last rocks gave way to the [R640R, Sedrun] side of the tunnel.

The new flat tunnel under the Gotthard will open up a high-speed rail link which is due to open 2017.  The rail link will offer greater traffic and commerce between north and south of Europe, lessening the amount of traffic on the road.

Not only is this all good news for the environment, as it will mean less traffic and on the road, but it is also good news for skiers travelling by train.

Faster trains in the Alps mean more time on the slopes. For example, those arriving by plane or train in Zurich on their way to French or Italian ski resorts will shave two hours off their journey: the travelling time between Zurich and Milan will be reduced from 4.5 hours to 2.5 hours.

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