Switzerland has opened the Ceneri Base Tunnel, the final segment of a larger project that will facilitate rail connectivity between the northern and southern Europe.
The 15.4km-long tunnel completed the $25.04bn New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA) project, a Swiss effort for faster north-south rail links.
According to a Reuters report, the Ceneri Base Tunnel took ten years to be completed. Running beneath Monte Ceneri, the tunnel starts at Camorino in the north and ends at Vezia, near Lugano.
Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) CEO Vincent Ducrot was quoted by the news agency as saying: “It’s the last part of the puzzle. The goal to have a flat rail line through the Alps has now been achieved.”
With the 57.1km Gotthard Base Tunnel and 34.6km Loetschberg tunnel, the Ceneri completes a railway system that will enable freight movement from Rotterdam in the Netherlands to the Italian city of Genoa.
The use of the rail route for freight movement will reduce trucks on roads, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions.
The project is expected to help in reducing the number of trucks crossing the Alps to 650,000 annually, trimming carbon dioxide emissions by 890 tonnes per day.
Swiss Confederation President Simonetta Sommaruga told Reuters: “The environmental benefit is obvious, but it’s not only about the Alps.
“It’s a competitive advantage for Switzerland and a sustainable transport policy.”
The Ceneri Base Tunnel is slated to become operational in December and is expected to support the movement of up to 170 freight trains and 180 passenger trains per day.