New in Switzerland: World’s longest train tunnel

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The world’s longest train tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT), will open next week in Switzerland after 17 years of construction. The 35.4-mile GBT is also considered the world’s “deepest tunnel” since it runs 7,500 feet below parts of the Swiss and Italian Alps. The GBT will allow travelers to reach Zurich from Milan in just two and half hours via a 155-mile-per-hour train that will also connect to Antwerp, Belgium, Holland and Rotterdam. EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc says the tunnel will be a “godsend for Europe” as it is expected to reduce air pollution along major trade routes. 

Despite sounding a little bit claustrophobia-inducing, I can’t wait to try out this tunnel. Living in Switzerland has definitely turned me into a train fanatic–I always look up train schedules before flying. It is a such a stress-free way to get around Europe. No TSA, no baggage checks, no liquid restrictions. I’ve come to look forward to “train picnics” almost as much as the destination itself. Not to mention those Alpine views from the windows…

I wish I felt the same way about U.S. trains. I certainly want to believe in the American rail system, but out of the maybe 10 times I took a train trip in the U.S. I’ve been delayed heavily four times. On one ill-fated trip we sat on a track without moving for six hours. The restaurant car quickly ran out of beer, wine and snacks in an apocalypse-style stampede. On another, the train’s horn was stuck on for three hours (annoying!), so we couldn’t enter our destination’s city limits. Does anyone have insight into why the U.S. railway system is different from Switzerland’s? Meanwhile, a few links:

Image via here

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