back to article Swiss effectively disappear Alps: World's largest tunnel opens

Tunnel nerds, rejoice. The Swiss are today celebrating the opening of the world's largest underground passage to mark its completion 17 years after construction began. The €12bn (£8.5bn) Gotthard base tunnel is 57km (35 miles) long and will overtake Japan's 53.85km Seikan railway tunnel to become the world's largest and …

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  1. TRT Silver badge

    73 different kinds of rock...

    Oh yes. Isn’t that interesting.

    Interesting? It’s frightening!

    Is it? Well, actually it just looks like a slice of layer cake to me.

    Why did you say it looked interesting then?

    Oh, well, I’m quite interested in layer cake.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 73 different kinds of rock...

      Ha! Presumably the soft, crumbly kind of rock is actually an entire archaeological layer of compressed Toblerone.

      1. lglethal Silver badge

        Re: 73 different kinds of rock...

        Don't forget the section that was made from Treacle...

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: 73 different kinds of rock...

      Including asbestos. I've met one of the 'drivers' of the tunnelling machine in 2007 or so in a seminar on the safety regulations regarding working with/handling the stuff.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 73 different kinds of rock...

      Hmm, lots of rocks, 24h operation.

      Rock around the clock?

      Yeah, yeah, I know, don't give up the day job..

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: 73 different kinds of rock...

        So, what was the third rock?

  2. Mike Richards Silver badge

    There's got to be a joke here

    A 'Catholic priest, a pastor, a rabbi and an imam walk into a tunnel...'

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's got to be a joke here

      ... never to be seen again?

    2. Harry the Bastard

      Re: There's got to be a joke here

      and a spaghetti monster flies out

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: There's got to be a joke here

      OK, a "catholic" is obvious, a rabbi is jewish and an iman is muslim, but what's a "pastor"? Does it involve spaghetti?

      1. cd

        Re: There's got to be a joke here

        So the tunnel could be pastor-ised.

      2. Fazal Majid

        Protestant

        Switzerland is the home of Calvinism, after all.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Protestant

          Standing in the vast mouth of the tunnel, overcome with awe, the Imam says to the others, "Alhamdulillah! The inside of a mountain is indeed a holy place. This reminds me, it was in a cave in a mountain where Allah revealed the holy Qu'ran to The Prophet, peace be upon him."

          The Catholic priest says "Hail Mary, mother of God! Mountains are magical, mystical places. This tunnel reminds me that it was in a hole in a mountain, surrounded by rock, where Our Lord Jesus Christ's body lay for three days before he was resurrected."

          The Pastor says "Quite, quite. Praise God, rock of ages. Since time immemorial a place of safety. I am reminded that The Old Testament tells us it was in caves in the mountains that the people of Israel hid from persecution by the Midianites."

          Nodding sagely in religious contemplation the three await the Rabbi's comment. After a few moments of silence, they realise the Rabbi isn't with them any more. Looking around, they see him running down the tunnel, robes billowing out behind him. "Hey!" they cry out after him. "Where are you going?"

          "Hallelujah! I saw the sign pointing towards Switzerland and it reminded me of where the Nazi's hid my family's gold!"

      3. Crazy Operations Guy

        "but what's a "pastor"? Does it involve spaghetti?"

        Nah, just another name of the guy that gets paid to yell at you once a week to make you feel guilty for being alive.

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

      5. Uffish

        Re: What's a pastor

        Probably married.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's got to be a joke here

      ... and are attacked by an angel with a Giant Baby Donald Trump Head?

  3. IanRS

    Swiss efficiency

    I do not know whether the project stayed on time or on budget compared to the initial estimates, but I cannot imagine the UK being able to complete such a project at such a 'low' cost. Only half a billion pounds a year? They can't have used enough consultants! After all, look at how the projected costs of HS2 keep going up.

    1. breakfast

      Re: Swiss efficiency

      Our local tunnel was built in the UK and it came in on time and on budget, so it can happen.

      On average it has only had to be closed a few nights every month for the five years since it opened, because they cut so many corners on the quality of the equipment used during construction...

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Swiss efficiency

        Our local tunnel was built in the UK

        Probably a wise decision, they're a bugger to transport.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          Probably a wise decision, they're a bugger to transport.

          It's not the delivery; it's the installation.

      2. Ken 16 Silver badge
        Trollface

        There's your problem

        You should have had your tunnel built in Switzerland and shipped in once complete.

      3. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Swiss efficiency

        @breakfast

        Hindhead Tunnel?

        1. breakfast

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          Yup.

          The kind of large scale engineering project that only goes ahead in a safe Tory seat.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Swiss efficiency

        "On average it has only had to be closed a few nights every month for the five years since it opened, because they cut so many corners on the quality of the equipment used during construction..."

        And because the road it bypassed was closed as soon as the tunnel opened and was subequently ripped up with a lot of haste, traffic has to take a 20-30 mile detour to get around the blockage.

        "Quality" Brutish Workmanship.

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Swiss efficiency

      The BBC News article confirms:

      On-time

      In-budget.

      Maybe we can learn something from them.

      1. Yugguy

        Re: Swiss efficiency

        Yep - like don't be in the EU.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          "Yep - like don't be in the EU."

          Yes, all we need to do to be on a par is to double our wages so that we are able match the cost of living in Switzerland.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          Quote: "Yep - like don't be in the EU."

          And yet, once you take into account how much money the UK gets back from the EU (rebates, investments etc), the Swiss actually contribute more per head into the EU than the UK does. Clever that!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Swiss efficiency

            "And yet, once you take into account how much money the UK gets back from the EU (rebates, investments etc), the Swiss actually contribute more per head into the EU than the UK does. Clever that!"

            Any citations / evidence?

          2. Finder Keeper

            Re: Swiss efficiency

            You cannot count investments as "money the UK gets back from the EU," unless those are funds coming directly out of the EU budget. Investments by private corporations may benefit from EU membership, but are not a direct result of it.

            A lot of foreign investments in developed countries come from other countries. That is a benefit of free trade (eg EFTA/WTO, bilateral agreements) rather than any transnational government.

        3. Mutton Jeff

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          just connect to it with a effin great big tunnel.

        4. Yugguy

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          I might have guessed you'd all be short-stroking it for the EU.

          I frequent several German-made car forums and the vast majority are for Leave.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Swiss efficiency

        at least when bemoaning the British dis-ability to stay on target, budget-wise, let's think Schadenfreunde, let's think Berlin Airport (not to mention their Hauptbahnhof, and an opera house. In Koeln or Hamburg, if memory serves me).

        There, I already feel better ;)

        1. Fortycoats

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          If you mean the Hauptbahnhof that is a black hole for public money, then I think you mean "Stuttgart 21". The opera house is indeed in Hamburg - the Elbphilharmonie. How an ugly eggbox like that can cost over €800m (and counting) is hard to comprehend. But nothing beats BER Airport.

          1. Ripper38
            Headmaster

            Re: Swiss efficiency

            OK, I'll bite: Stuttgart 21, Elbphilharmonie, BER Airport are all in Germany, so the connection is what? Nothing to do with Swiss efficiency either but never mind, the French built quite a nifty theme park... about wine. Huh! Who'd a thought it: http://www.businessinsider.com/theme-park-for-wine-lovers-france-2016-5

            1. TRT Silver badge

              Re: Swiss efficiency

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nb6Not_p8oc

              Berlin Airport? I didn't recall, but these guys ^^^^ helpfully summarise the details by way of a song and a Playmobil reconstruction.

      3. Natalie Gritpants

        Re: Swiss efficiency

        It is under a mountain i.e. nobody's back yard.

        1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          It is under a mountain i.e. nobody's back yard

          I think these critters would beg to differ - it was their backyard!

          Common lizards, adders and slow-worms found at Boundless Valley were relocated to National Trust land at Highcombe Edge while grass snakes were taken to Hurthill Copse

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindhead_Tunnel

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          "It is under a mountain i.e. nobody's back yard."

          Several mountains and several hundred backyards.

          Also several major fault lines. It's an impressive piece of work, especially considering that in these kinds of tunnelling projects it's never _quite_ certain what you'll encounter no matter how much seismic imaging you throw at the problem.

          Amongst other things, the Swiss factored in time for delays for such things (which weren't needed), unlike british projects which are run on hopelessly optimistic timelines (Crossrail was relatively straightforward as the geology is very well known and it was archeology which was the big delay factor) and never designed to cater to slight usage expansions, resulting in having to "do it over" when the project proves insufficient for the task.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Swiss efficiency

        Or maybe they learnt from the Crossrail team, achieving exactly the same.

        The Programme Team there have been absolutely ruthless at allowing no project creep, with the one exception of the extension from Maidenhead to Reading. Therein lies the way to achieve the holy grail of on-time, on-budget.

        uk.gov IT could learn a thing or two from that.....

        1. Lee D Silver badge

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          Crossrail, really?

          The project planned in the 1940's and still yet to happen?

          It's easy to be "in-budget" when nobody remembers what the original budget even was.

          It's easy to be "on-time" when you still haven't delivered anything and "on-time" is supposed to be 2017 (or actually 2018 now, possibly).

          Literally, Crossrail is the entire antithesis of your counterpoint.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Swiss efficiency

            I wouldn't call lines on maps in the 1940's a "plan"

            Now, if you were talking Thameslink "2000", I'd agree with your case.

            But Crossrail is absolutely getting it right.

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Swiss efficiency

          Or maybe they learnt from the Crossrail team, achieving exactly the same.

          You mean, the Swiss also used German tunnelling machines? :)

    3. kmac499

      Re: Swiss efficiency

      To keep the costs down the Swiss had the core of the tunnel built in a distant 'bestshore' environment where it is was packed up shipped to Schweiz, once there it was unfolded on site . It was then a simple job of lining it and fitting a cuckoo clock at each end...

  4. breakfast
    Coat

    Tunnels aren't as good when everybody likes them

    Oh great, now everyone's all "hey check out this tunnel in Switzerland" - I preferred it when it was underground.

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Tunnels aren't as good when everybody likes them

      Groan.

    2. wolfetone Silver badge

      Re: Tunnels aren't as good when everybody likes them

      You Tunnel Hipsters make me sick.

      "I liked Tunnels way back, even before The Great Escape".

      1. Fibbles

        Re: Tunnels aren't as good when everybody likes them

        I liked tunnels before they were artificially cooled.

  5. 2+2=5 Silver badge
    Boffin

    What's a couple of hundred meters between friends?

    > The completed tunnel travels up to 2.3km below the surface of the mountains above and through rock that reaches temperatures of 46˚C without ventilation due to a high lithostatic pressure from rock above it – which can measure up to 2,500m in some sections*.

    So which is it? 2.3km or 2.5km?

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