- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 30 Nov 2017
The longest railway tunnels in the world
The world’s lengthiest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) opened for business following its inauguration in June 2016. Seventeen years in construction, and a world-record 57.1 km in length, the tunnel admitted its first trains in December 2016.
Its construction was a phenomenal feat of engineering, involving around 2,400 workers and with 28.2 million tonnes of material excavated. At a cost of around 12.5 billion Swiss francs (or $12.6 in US currency), it roughly matched the budget of the London 2012 Olympics and used around 4 million cubic metres of concrete (or 84 Empire State Buildings).
Carving its way through the Alps, the tunnel was built to reduce train journey times significantly and provide a major increase in rail freight capacity.
“It is just part of the Swiss identity,” federal transport office director Peter Fueglistaler explained to Reuters. “For us, conquering the Alps is like the Dutch exploring the oceans.”
The graphic below ranks the longest rail tunnels in the world, placing them in order:
[Image: Swiss Info]
 Seikan, Japan
Seikan, in second place, is the oldest tunnel featured in the graphic, completed nearly three decades ago. Of its 54 km total length, some 23 km is under the sea. The tunnel connects Honshu and Hokkaido Islands in the north of Japan.
Linking France and the United Kingdom, Queen Elizabeth II and President Mitterrand opened the tunnel in 1994. At a final cost of £9 billion, more than 13,000 French and British workers collaborated to make the tunnel a reality.
 Yulhyeon, South Korea
The Yulhyeon Tunnel took just three and a half years to complete and is part of the Suseo High Speed Railway. The line connects Suseo Station in Seoul and Pyeongtaek 61.1 km to the south. Opened in the summer of 2015, the tunnel takes fourth place on the list.
Another Swiss tunnel takes fifth place. One-third of the New Rail Link through the Alps (NRLA), alongside the GBT and the Ceneri Base Tunnel (due to open in 2020), the Lötschberg Base Tunnel opened in 2007.
 New Guanjiao, China
 Guadarrama, Spain
At 28.4 km long, the Guadarrama rail tunnel is part of the Madrid-Valladolid line opened in 2007. Trains can travel through it at over 310 km per hour, significantly reducing travel times.
This article was written by Joe Myers, Formative Content, World Economic Forum.
--Future of Construction 10:56, 19 Jun 2017 (BST)
 Find out more
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Do you know your Rococo from your De Stijl, your Gothic from your Post-modernist?
May outlines a new funding strategy for housing associations and says the 'stigma' of social housing needs to end.
RIBA launches a consultation on a new Plan of Work for Fire Safety.
This article offers some basic rules to follow when writing your next specification.
The iconic Mackintosh Building will definitely be rebuilt, board chairwoman confirms.
The machinery used to fashion stone has changed dramatically - and so have the products.
This type of pile provides support to the building, as well as acting as a heat source and a heat sink.
Why investors are adopting the SDGs and why civil engineering could be crucial for delivering them.
Read about all the winners from the London ceremony of CIAT's 2018 Architectural Technology Awards.
How do you find the right stone to conserve historic buildings?
Appointment agreements often include a ‘scope of services’ setting out the consultant's performance on a project.