Last updated: 09:19 AM ET, Sat October 08 2016

Switzerland to Open Longest Train Tunnel in the World

Car Rental & Rail | Janeen Christoff | May 24, 2016

Switzerland to Open Longest Train Tunnel in the World

PHOTO: Gotthard Base Tunnel (photo courtesy of the Swiss Travel System)

Tunneling underneath the Swiss Alps, with its well-known rugged peaks made famous for their unforgiving landscapes and sometimes treacherous slopes is no easy undertaking — but Swiss construction company, AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd., took on the project and built the world’s longest train tunnel that travels beneath some of the globe’s most famous summits.

After 17 years of construction, the much-anticipated Gotthard Base Tunnel will open on June 1, traveling 57 kilometers to a depth of up to 2,300 meters below the Gotthard Massif mountain range. This new tunnel will allow for efficient and sustainable transportation and permit high-speed travel through the Alps in just 17 minutes, bringing Switzerland’s neighboring countries closer together and making travel within the Alps more convenient. The tunnel will also allow for the transport of goods on heavier trains to pass through the region.

While the tunnel will officially open on June 1, there will be testing of the tracks for a December launch of commercial services through the tunnel.

READ MORE: 4 Tips for European Train Trips

However, visitors to Switzerland have a unique opportunity in the meantime. From Aug. 2 to Nov. 27, passengers will be allowed to descend into the once-in-a-century construction project during exclusive tunnel rides that include disembarkation into the depths of the mountain. Guests will stop at the multifunction station in Sedrun and have the chance to tour the gigantic tunnel system 800 meters underground.

Once high-speed trains are using the tunnel system regularly, this experience will no longer be available, so it is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Tickets for the train are limited, so advanced purchases are advised.

The special "Gottardino" train journeys are offered through the Swiss Travel System and can be purchased through Rail Europe.

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