It is also a reminder of the different worlds inhabited by the Producer and Predator Classes. Switzerland is the headquarters for some of the sleaziest scumbag banksters to walk planet earth. Yet even here at ground zero for bankster predation, they still were willing to spend billions of Euros / Swiss Francs to upgrade a transportation link. Of course, the $10 billion price tag since planning for the tunnel first started in 1992 is but a rounding error in the bill for bankster fraud.
Breakthrough Under the Alps
Switzerland Celebrates Longest Tunnel in the World
Workers and dignitaries alike erupted into cheers on Friday as the final bits of rock gave way in the Gotthard Base Tunnel deep beneath the Alps. The tunnel is now the longest in the world, and is the new pride of Switzerland.
Switzerland's reputation has suffered in recent years. It's highly regarded banks proved not to be immune to the financial crisis. The country found itself in the center of several international tax evasion scandals. And last November, the Swiss banned the construction of minarets in a nationwide referendum.
On Friday, the Alpine country once again found itself in the spotlight -- but this time the attention was positive for a change. Shortly after 2 p.m., under the gaze of miners, VIPs and journalists, the gigantic tunnel drill Sissi broke through the final 1.5 meters of rock in the Gotthard Base Tunnel. At 57 kilometers long, the tunnel is now the longest in the world.
It is, said Swiss Transportation Minister Moritz Leuenberger, "Switzerland's world wonder, and the longest world wonder in the world."
The hyperbole is hardly misplaced. The new tunnel is an engineering masterpiece, passing deep below high Alpine peaks and through several challenging zones of brittle rock and unstable sand. Several of the massive, 3,000-ton drills that did the lion's share of the work periodically became stuck -- one of them for six months -- and a total of eight workers lost their lives.
Nevertheless, the drilling of the tunnel was completed ahead of schedule. Digging in the neighboring tunnel is expected to be finished early next year.
'Day of Joy'
"This is the most wonderful moment in my 36 years of tunnel building," said a tearful Hubert Bär, project foreman, as he held aloft a statue of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners. Peter Fueglistaler, head of the Swiss Federal Office of Transport, called it "a day of joy for Switzerland," according to the Associated Press.
The Gotthard Base Tunnel is part of a network of Alpine transportation projects, including two further tunnels beneath the mountain range, that is designed to make transport between northern Europe and southern Europe quicker and easier. The network, known as NEAT, is being built to relieve Swiss roadways of the burdensome truck traffic that now clogs the country's passes. When the Gotthard rail tunnel is finished, it is hoped that just 650,000 trucks will pass through the Swiss Alps each year instead of the 1.3 million today. more