Drilling world's longest rail tunnel
Miners watch as the drill machine 'Sissi' breaks through rock.
(Christian Hartmann / Reuters)
The world's longest railroad tunnel moved a step closer to completion as Swiss drilling crews sliced across the final 6 feet of rock in a ceremony broadcast live on nationwide television.
Tunnel-drilling machine "Sissi" reached the final breakthrough on the Faido side, in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino, around 8:17 a.m. EDT Friday.
Drilling and blasting on the 35-mile tunnel linking Erstfeld in German-speaking central Switzerland and Bodio in the Italian-speaking south began in 1996. The tunnel is scheduled for completion in 2017 at an estimated cost of $19.7 billion. It will be the world's longest underground rail link, beating the 33.5-mile SeikanTunnel in Japan.
Trains will be able to speed through the tunnel at 155 miles per hour, shortening the four-hour train journey between Zurich and Milan by 25 percent.
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