Swiss Tunnel Completes Construction after 17 Years

July 29, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. situated / ˈsɪtʃ uˌeɪ tɪd / (adj.) – located or positioned in a particular place
Example: The building is situated beside the old park.

2. commence / kəˈmɛns / (v.) – to start or begin
Example: The celebration will commence once the VIP guests have arrived.

3. distinguished / dɪˈstɪŋ gwɪʃt / (adj.) – known by many because of an important quality, such as an achievement or a high position
Example: Many distinguished artists were recognized in the awarding ceremony.

4. festivity / fɛˈstɪv ɪ ti / (n.) – a celebration or feast
Example: They celebrated the New Year with a grand festivity attended by thousands.

5. freight / freɪt / (n.) – goods that are carried and transported using huge vehicles (e.g. planes, ships, trucks)
Example: The ship carried tons of freight.


Read the text below.
After 17 long years, the Gotthard base tunnel, Switzerland’s 57-kilometer underground rail tunnel, is finally complete.

The Gotthard tunnel is situated 2.3 kilometers under the Alps. It currently holds the record as the longest underground rail tunnel in the world. It beat the former record-holder, the Seikan rail of Japan, by only 3 kilometers. Full operations of the tunnel will commence in December 2016, but the maiden voyage, or first journey, of the Gotthard trains happened on June 1.

Hundreds of lucky guests who won tickets from a draw were able to join the trains’ first test run. The run was also attended by distinguished guests, including Switzerland’s president Johann Schneider-Ammann, French president François Hollande, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, and German chancellor Angela Merkel.

Luxurious festivities worth €8 million, or around $9 million, will mark the rail tunnel’s opening in December. These festivities are expected to be graced by around 1,200 invited guests.

The planning of the Gotthard tunnel started as far back as the 1980s, and the entire construction cost €11 billion, or around $ 12.5 billion. The tunnel was funded mostly by taxes from heavy-duty vehicles, such as freight trucks. The rest of the funds came from state loans.

Once operational, the train is expected to cut 45 minutes off the travel time between Swiss cities Zurich and Lugano. It is also expected to boost trade between northern and southern Europe. The trains will carry cargo normally transported by huge trucks on Switzerland’s roads. This means that the new tunnel is also expected to take millions of heavy-duty vehicles off Swiss roads.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Do you approve of the grand celebration to be done in honor of the new tunnel? Why or why not?
·         In what ways can new infrastructures be celebrated without spending too much?

Discussion B

·         What is the advantage of having less heavy-duty vehicles (e.g. huge trucks) on the road?
·         Do you think that the use of heavy-duty vehicles should also be reduced in your country? Why or why not?

July 29, 2016