Future Getting Closer: The World's Longest Railway Tunnel Through The Alps

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There are many in-your-face views of realities to be found at The Big Picture’s 2010 round-up of dramatic photographs. This drill, a very large tunnel-boring machine named “Sissi, is no exception at 400 meters long and geared with 60 drill heads. Its visual pattern resembles a painting. Its context makes it look like an artifact discovered during an archaeological dig. In both analogies, it’s a stunning Jules Verne-esque sight of human and machine.

Equally stunning are the statistics: 3,500 miners; 153.5 kilometers of tunnel drilled; 20 to 25 meters drilled daily, 24 million tons of rubble removed; 2,600 workers involved; 8 years passed; and a whopping 13.157 billion Swiss francs spent.

These are the results of realizing the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel, conceived in 1947. On October 15, the Final Section of rock was pierced:

There was celebration both below and above ground, as efforts moved closer to realizing a connecting channel that would ease transportation burdens between Zurich and Milan by the end of 2017. Eight miners who died during the tunnel’s construction were especially remembered.

Nate Burgos

Read a history of Project AlpTransit Gotthard.


Comments (3)

  1. Fraser McKen says:

    I would like permission to use the photo of a worker standing in front of the Sissi earth borer and servicing it by use of some sort of prod. Here is the photo:


    I am shortly going to introduce my book of acrostic puzzles called European Acrostics and wish to use the photo on my book’s cover as one of seven “button sized” photos of European engineering past and present. If you send me an email address I can forward the cover.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    – Fraser McKen

    1. Jeff Yoders says:

      Dear Fraser,

      The image in question was taken by Italian photographer Arno Balzarini and was used by MetalMiner with permission. We, unfortunately, cannot grant permission for the image and do not have contact information for the photographer any longer. Good luck, though, in your search and I hope that you are able to contact Mr. Balzarini.

      Jeff Yoders,
      Editor, MetalMiner

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