Clad in an orange hardhat and a bright green vest with light-reflecting stripes, I’m standing by the shiny new tracks of the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland — the longest railroad tunnel in the world.
It opened in June and started service on 11 December, and it will connect the country’s northern and southern halves underneath the Alps’ Saint Gotthard mountain range — allowing the high-speed passenger trains to travel up to 155mph. In fact, the Alps are right above me — over 6000 feet of hard rocky mountain core with snow-topped peaks disappearing into the sky. Straight in front of me are miles of shimmering rails resting on thousands of concrete "sleepers" — the rectangular blocks that hold up the tracks. “When the construction team laid down the last sleeper, they had a celebration,” our guide Aloise Bissig from the tunnel crew tells us in German, and our translator Eva Plank translates.