What is the longest tunnel in Europe?

The longest tunnel

The world’s 4 longest vehicle tunnels and 5 of the 10 longest rail tunnels are in Europe; over ¼ of world’s railroad tracks are within Europe.

Here are some of the longest road tunnels in Europe:

  1. Lærdal Tunnel (Norway) - Length: 24.5 kilometers (15.2 miles)
  2. Gotthard Base Tunnel (Switzerland) - Length: 24.5 kilometers (15.2 miles)
  3. St. Gotthard Tunnel (Switzerland) - Length: 16.9 kilometers (10.5 miles)
  4. Fréjus Road Tunnel (France-Italy) - Length: 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles)
  5. Tauerntunnel (Austria) - Length: 6.4 kilometers (4.0 miles)
  6. Maurienne Valley Road Tunnel (France) - Length: 12.9 kilometers (8.0 miles)
  7. Arlberg Road Tunnel (Austria) - Length: 13.9 kilometers (8.6 miles)
  8. Arlberg Railway Tunnel (Austria) - Length: 10.6 kilometers (6.6 miles)
  9. San Bernardino Tunnel (Switzerland) - Length: 6.6 kilometers (4.1 miles)
  10. Mont Blanc Tunnel (France-Italy) - Length: 11.6 kilometers (7.2 miles)

Here are the top 5 longest underwater tunnels in Europe:

  1. Channel Tunnel (Eurotunnel) - Length: Approximately 50.5 kilometers (31.4 miles)
    • Location: Connects Folkestone in the United Kingdom with Coquelles near Calais in France.
  2. Seikan Tunnel - Length: Approximately 53.85 kilometers (33.5 miles)
    • Location: Connects the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido in Japan. While primarily located in Japan, a small section of the tunnel is technically in European territory.
  3. Helsinki-Tallinn Tunnel (proposed) - Planned Length: Approximately 103 kilometers (64 miles)
    • Location: Planned to connect Helsinki, Finland, with Tallinn, Estonia, under the Gulf of Finland. As of my last update, this tunnel was in the planning stages and not yet constructed.
  4. Marmaray Tunnel - Length: Approximately 13.6 kilometers (8.5 miles)
    • Location: Connects the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey, beneath the Bosporus Strait.
  5. Bosporus Road Tunnel (planned) - Planned Length: Approximately 6.5 kilometers (4 miles)
    • Location: Proposed to connect the European and Asian sides of Istanbul, Turkey, beneath the Bosporus Strait. As of my last update, this tunnel was in the planning stages and not yet constructed.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel, a marvel of engineering nestled within the Swiss Alps, represents a significant achievement in European transit infrastructure. Spanning 57 km, it holds the title of the longest railway tunnel in the world, surpassing previous records with its grand opening in June 2016. This monumental project was spearheaded by AlpTransit Gotthard AG, a subsidiary of the Swiss Federal Railways, tasked with creating a tunnel that would revolutionize the way passenger and freight trains traverse the Alps, connecting northern and southern Europe more efficiently than ever before.

Constructed to alleviate the congestion on the Gotthard Pass, a historical trade route that has been in use since the 13th century, the Gotthard Base Tunnel is part of a larger project known as the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA). This ambitious initiative aims to enhance rail connectivity across the continent, making the tunnel a crucial artery for both high-speed rail and heavy freight trains. The project's success lies not only in its impressive length but also in its ability to significantly reduce travel time between Switzerland and Italy, thereby optimizing the European railway network.

The engineering prowess behind the Gotthard Base Tunnel is further highlighted by its construction process, which involved the use of state-of-the-art tunnel boring machines and intricate ventilation systems to ensure the safety and comfort of its users. The tunnel comprises two single-track tunnels, east and west tubes, along with several access tunnels and cross passages for emergency and maintenance purposes. This design ensures a continuous flow of rail traffic, minimizing disruptions and maximizing efficiency.

Another noteworthy aspect of the tunnel is its depth, making it the deepest railway tunnel in the world. Situated under the Gotthard Massif, it reaches a maximum elevation that challenges the limits of modern engineering and construction technology. The project's completion marked a significant milestone in railway technology, setting new standards for tunnel construction and design globally.

The AlpTransit Gotthard project did not stop with the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Following its success, the Ceneri Base Tunnel was inaugurated in September 2020, further enhancing the rail link through the Alps. Together, these tunnels form a new railway link that boasts a route usable by both high-speed rail and heavy freight trains, cementing Switzerland's position as a key transit hub in Europe.

The Swiss Federal Railways' commitment to this project underscores the importance of sustainable and efficient transportation solutions in the face of growing environmental concerns. By facilitating a shift from road freight to rail, the Gotthard Base Tunnel contributes to reducing carbon emissions and traffic congestion, offering a greener alternative for goods transportation across Europe.

Throughout its construction, the Gotthard Base Tunnel faced numerous challenges, from geological uncertainties to the sheer scale of excavating and reinforcing such an extensive underground passage. However, the final breakthrough, achieved after years of meticulous planning and labor, was a testament to human perseverance and innovation.

The tunnel's opening was met with international acclaim, not only for its engineering achievements but also for its potential to transform European transit dynamics. It represents a significant leap forward in connecting the continent, making the heart of the Gotthard Axis more accessible than ever before. The tunnel connects the canton of Ticino to the rest of Switzerland, bridging cultural and economic divides and fostering closer ties within the region and beyond.

As the longest and deepest tunnel in the world, the Gotthard Base Tunnel is a feat of modern engineering that stands as a symbol of progress and unity in Europe. Its successful completion and operation are a beacon of technological advancement, showcasing what can be achieved when nations collaborate towards a common goal of enhancing connectivity and promoting sustainable development.

In conclusion, the Gotthard Base Tunnel is not just a record-breaking infrastructure project but a pivotal development in the narrative of European railway history. By providing a faster, more reliable link through the Alps, it has reshaped transit across the continent, offering a glimpse into the future of transportation. This tunnel, with its blend of innovation, perseverance, and strategic significance, is a landmark achievement that will serve the continent for generations to come, embodying the spirit of European cooperation and technological ambition.