Switzerland officially opened the Ceneri Base Tunnel on Friday, the final piece in a direct, flat rail link connecting northern Europe to the Mediterranean via routes beneath the Alps
The 15.4 kilometer tunnel marks the completion of the New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA), a 22.8 billion Swiss franc (USD 25.04 billion) project dubbed Switzerland’s construction project of the century, Reuters reports.
Together with the 57.1 kilometer Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world’s longest rail tunnel which opened in 2016, and the 34.6 kilometer Loetschberg tunnel, Ceneri completes a system that allows uninterrupted freight transport from Rotterdam and Genoa under the mountains.
The tunnel is due to enter service on December 13, 2020.
The project’s aim is to reduce in the number of trucks crossing the Alps to 650,000 per year, cutting daily CO2 emissions by 890 tonnes.
Eventually the Milan to Zurich train journey will be cut from around 4 hours to three hours, and the SBB plans to run direct trains to Bologna and Genoa.
Freight trains will also be able to run uninterrupted along the 1,400 km stretch between Rotterdam to Genoa without technical hindrances.