Swiss open world's longest land tunnel

Crowds in rain gear brace weather to cheer on new rail service.

Folks who like to visit the shortest, the highest, the deepest or other "est" places will be heading to Switzerland now that the world's longest land tunnel has been opened there.

The Loetschberg Base Tunnel, a 21-mile-long rail link under the Alps, took eight years to build and cost $3.5 billion. The new link is expected to cut the train time between Germany and Italy from 3 1/2 hours to just under two, with speeds up to 150 mph. Freight trains will be able to travel at speeds up to 100 mph.

The new tunnel deposed the 16.4-mile Kahhoda Tunnel in Japan as the world's longest, but it won't hold its title for long. The 36-mile Gotthard Tunnel, which will be the world's longest when completed in 2017, is being dug parallel to the Loetschberg Tunnel.

The longest land-and-underwater tunnels in the world are the 32-mile Seikan Tunnel in Japan and the 31-mile Channel Tunnel connecting France and England.


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