World's longest rail tunnel opens with seriously bizarre ceremony – see the pics

By Samantha Luiz
08 June 2015

After almost two decades of extensive construction work, the world's longest and deepest rail tunnel has officially opened in Switzerland.

The incredible Gotthard Base Tunnel, which set the Swiss back by a whopping $12 billion (R176 billion), is said to run for 57km under 2 300 metres of solid mountainous rock.

Set to revolutionise Europe's transport system, the record-breaking tunnel is a "giant step for Switzerland but equally for our neighbours and the rest of the continent".

But the Gotthard's grandeur was outshone by bizarre moments at the tunnel's opening ceremony last week.

One of these striking moments saw a topless woman hovering above actors dressed in orange.

The woman, imitating a bird, was said to represent the nine construction workers who lost their lives during the building of the tunnel.

A man dressed as an ipex, or wild goat, was also a significant part of the festivities.

In what looked like a fashion show line-up, the ceremony saw 'construction workers' partaking in abstract choreography. "Either the opening ceremony of #gottardo2016 world's longest deepest rail tunnel or a @kanyewest album launch," joked one Twitter user.
The unusual ceremony was attended by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Swiss Federal President Johann Schneider-Ammann, French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The political leaders sat together in a VIP carriage as the first train went on its maiden voyage through the tunnel.

The new tunnel now detrones Japan's 53.9km Seikan rail tunnel as the longest in the world. At 50.5km, the Channel Tunnel linking the UK and France has been pushed into third place.


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