Longest and deepest tunnel – level 3
A spectacle for something truly spectacular. Switzerland and much of Europe are celebrating the official opening of the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel.
The 35-mile (56 kilometres) Gotthard Base Tunnel snaking through the Alps provide a high-speed link between northern and southern Europe as deep as 2.3 kilometres below the surface. Starting at Rotterdam in the Netherlands and stretching all the way to Genoa in Italy, officials say the line will revolutionise European freight transport. Passengers, including some of the world’s most powerful politicians, will be benefiting, too. Some journeys that used to take days now possible in as little as 17 minutes. And when full service begins in December, travellers will see the time it takes for them to get from Zurich to Milan cut by nearly 3 hours.
While the 12-billion-dollar project has been praised for finishing on time and within budget, the venture hasn’t been without opposition. During the 17 years of construction, engineers had to dig through 73 different kinds of rock, some as hard as granite, with temperatures of 46 degrees. Nine workers lost their lives.
But Swiss voters fought hard to see the project realised. Today they were the first ones to enjoy this inaugural trip.
Difficult words: spectacle (a great visual show), spectacular (beautiful in a dramatic and eye-catching way), stretch (to exist over an area), freight transport (the transport of things/products in large amounts), budget (the amount of money needed or available for something), venture (a risky business), granite (a very hard rock), realise (to accomplish), inaugural (marking the beginning of something).
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