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Swiss celebrate world's longest, deepest rail tunnel

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Switzerland on Wednesday inaugurated the 35.4 mile Gotthard Railway Tunnel, a major engineering achievement deep under snow-capped peaks. The Gotthard Base Tunnel is a record-setter, now eclipsing Japan's Seikan Tunnel as the world's longest. (June AP

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merckel gestures as Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, left,, Switzerland's Federal President Johann Schneider-Ammann and France's President Francois Hollande look on while traveling in the VIP train during the opening ceremony of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel in Gotthard on June 1, 2016.(Photo: Ruben Sprich, AFP/Getty Images)

Switzerland celebrated<span style="color: Red;">*</span>an engineering marvel 20 years in the works Wednesday: the debut<span style="color: Red;">*</span>of the world's longest and deepest railroad tunnel.
The new tunnel through the Alps<span style="color: Red;">*</span>is 35.5 miles long, exceeding<span style="color: Red;">*</span>by 2<span style="color: Red;">*</span>miles the current record-holder, Japan’s<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Seikan Tunnel. Some sections lie a record<span style="color: Red;">*</span>1.4 miles beneath the mountain's peak.
“The new tunnel fits into the European railway freight corridor, which links Rotterdam and Genoa” — key ports in the Netherlands and Italy, said Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann, the Associated Press reported. “Aside from saving time, more merchandise can be carried through the Alps.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Francois Hollande of France and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi came to southern Switzerland for an upbeat, glitzy gathering<span style="color: Red;">*</span>with<span style="color: Red;">*</span>bands, dancers and a theme song for the tunnel.
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The tunnel<span style="color: Red;">*</span>will carry 325 passenger and freight trains a day, with each trip taking 20 minutes at speeds up to 150 mph. The goal is to reduce heavy auto traffic that creates pollution.
Swiss mark opening of world's longest and deepest rail tunnel

The tunnel will go through<span style="color: Red;">*</span>7,000-foot<span style="color: Red;">*</span>Gotthard Mountain. The mountain pass<span style="color: Red;">*</span>has long served as Europe's main north-south axis through the Alps, handling 6 million vehicles a year.
Merkel said it was<span style="color: Red;">*</span>“wonderful” on the train. Though “more than 2,000 meters of rocks” were above, she said she felt a “feeling of security, because I believe in the security of the Swiss civil engineers,” the AP reported.

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