While the US has been focused on resolving LGBT rights issues and deciding whether or not the Confederate flag can fly in cemeteries, Switzerland has focused on something that's actually productive. After 17 years of work, and at a cost of $12 billion, Switzerland has engineered and constructed the world's longest and deepest railroad tunnel. At a depth of 7,500 feet, the 35 mile long GBT cuts underneath the Alps, and will remove natural barriers to trade and tourism, along with easing the burden of freight traffic on Switzerland's ecosystem. For example, freight capacity along the north-south corridor is estimated to increase as a result of the project, going from 22 million tons a year to at least 44 million tons according to NBC News.
In constructing the twin tunnels, one for each direction, more than 31 million tons of rock was excavated (the equivalent of what it would take to build five of Egypt's Giza pyramids) using boring machines that were the length of almost four NFL football fields. Not only was the construction difficult, the design also had to include very precise safety features.
"We had to design doors that can be opened by a child and that at the same time will stop the spread of fire and smoke. They have to work even if there is no electricity, and stand up to the wave of pressure, equal to ten tons, caused by trains going by" said Peter Schuster of the engineering firm Ernst Basler & Partner.
Regularly scheduled rail traffic is set to begin in December 2016, and with speeds of up to 155mph, passengers will find travel time between Zurich, Switzerland and Milan, Italy reduced from just over four hours to two and a half hours.
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It's amazing what can happen if everyone were to stop bickering and come together to design and construct worthwhile projects. We can only hope to see more of this, and less of the other nonsense that inevitably crosses the wire each day.
Here is a short video of the project: