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Switzerland's Mega Tunnel Sets Record

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the what-a-bore dept.

Transportation 163

Anonymous Dupaeur writes "Switzerland, co-home of CERN and numerous other world organizations, has come closer to the completion of their recent megaproject: the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which will be the largest railway tunnel made by man. The project is due to be completed in 2017, and will host 200 to 250 trains a day with a significantly larger kinetic energy than the LHC's beams." After the completion of today's work, the tunnel is now 57 kilometers long, surpassing Japan's 53.9-kilometer Seikan Tunnel. There are a few longer tunnels in existence, such as the 137-kilometer Delaware Aqueduct, but they all move water rather than people.

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I'd love to see (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911390)

I'd love to see a story just about the drill itself and how in the heck they manufacture and transport it.

Re:I'd love to see (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911408)

No drill needed, just a large Rita Hayworth [imdb.com] poster and some elbow grease.

Re:I'd love to see (2, Informative)

colinRTM (1333069) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911514)

Re:I'd love to see (4, Funny)

MagicM (85041) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911568)

Bummer, I expected something exciting.

Re:I'd love to see (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911694)

Tunnel_boring_machine

---

I expected something exciting.

zing.

Re:I'd love to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912372)

Tunnel_boring_machine

---

I expected something exciting.

zing.

--woosh.

Re:I'd love to see (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911826)

instead you got a boring machine.

(after typing that i realized that you were probably being sarcastic and making the same joke, but decided to post it anyway.)

Re:I'd love to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911602)

Got close to that once on a much smaller project.

The "drill," AIR it was called a tunnel boaring machine, was assembled at the site.

I think the "Chunnel's" boaring machines were left beneath the English Channel as the removal cost was far higher than the possible revenue from salvage.

Re:I'd love to see (2, Funny)

cindyann (1916572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911654)

mmmm, bacon.

Re:I'd love to see (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911990)

I don't know that bacon from a boar capable of digging a hole that big would taste any good. Probably VERY tough and VERY gamey...

Re:I'd love to see (1)

cindyann (1916572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911612)

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/09/15/080915fa_fact_bilger [newyorker.com]

Although the picture of the boring machine is probably not what you're looking for.

Re:I'd love to see (4, Funny)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911748)

I'd love to see a story just about the drill itself

Not me. I bet it'd be pretty boring.

Re:I'd love to see (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912464)

But it has a great twist at the end!

Re:I'd love to see (1)

cmiller173 (641510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911982)

I think the history channels show "Modern Marvels" did a show on these things.

Re:I'd love to see (1)

Arthur Grumbine (1086397) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912098)

Here's [wikipedia.org] what I could find. Apparently it was built by Drakus, in Dimension X, and then stolen by Krang. There are no details on how Krang transported it to Earth, though.

Re:I'd love to see (2, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912350)

It's not just on the drill, but Netflix has an Extreme Engineering instant streaming episode on the Swiss Mega Tunnel. They spend a lot of time on the drill, operations, repairs, etc.

http://www.netflix.com/WiPlayer?movieid=70113457&trkid=438381 [netflix.com]

Largest made by man (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911414)

the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which will be the largest railway tunnel made by man.

Is there a larger, naturally occurring train tunnel somewhere?

Re:Largest made by man (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911430)

Yes. Duh. The summary implies that there is.

Re:Largest made by man (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911536)

There are longer railway tunnels, but they were made by dwarves.

Yeah but (3, Funny)

killmenow (184444) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911634)

The dwarves delved too greedily and too deep.

Re:Largest made by man (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911564)

Yes. It's the one they show in the looney toons when Wile E Coyote is trying to catch the RoadRunner.

Re:Largest made by man (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911590)

Yes. It's called "Barney Frank's Cornhole."

Re:Largest made by man (3, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911662)

Well, some women made a tunnel 62km in length, so it's good to see the men stepping up.

Re:Largest made by man (5, Informative)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912258)

We don't know what aliens have built on some other planet in some other solar system...

Re:Largest made by man (2, Insightful)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912766)

We also don't know if Man hasn't been abducted to live on a desert planet to mine for the universe's most precious mineral used in starship propulsion... where they could've made an even longer tunnel.

Re:Largest made by man (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33913180)

We also don't know that on an Earth in a parallel universe there aren't even longer tunnels. I personally qualify all statement about biggest such and such with: built by humans, on a planet humans who speak English call Earth, in the universe we can perceive, if our senses are to be trusted.

Gotthard (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911424)

Gotthard? Hadron?

Who the hell is coming up with these names? Are they trying to sell Viagra?

Re:Gotthard (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911486)

Gotthard? Hadron?

Who the hell is coming up with these names? Are they trying to sell Viagra?

Gotthard is the name of the actual pass going over the alps... (above the tunnel).

its a pretty neat drive. ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gotthard_Pass )

Re:Gotthard (5, Funny)

slick7 (1703596) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911754)

Gotthard? Hadron?

Who the hell is coming up with these names? Are they trying to sell Viagra?

Zo, you zeem to have zis re-occurring dream about very long tunnelz? HMMM. And what do you zink iss moving in zis tunnelz?

Re:Gotthard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911814)

Are they trying to sell Viagra?

Maybe they're just looking forward to driving the train in and out the tunnel.

Re:Gotthard (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#33913058)

They'd better keep the train's parts lubricated.

Shame about the station (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911436)

Too bad they abandoned the planned station, if there ever was a "Khazad-dûm Central", that would probably be it.

we can only hope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911440)

its active more often than the LHC and has less down time.

Holy irrelevant comparison, Batman! (4, Insightful)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911546)

Mentioning CERN because it's hosted in the same country as the tunnel? Comparing an entire train's kinetic energy to that of a fundmantal particle's kinetic energy? WTF?

Why don't they compare the number of trains going through it per day to the number of possible subatomic particles while they're at it?

Re:Holy irrelevant comparison, Batman! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911624)

They'll do that with the dup that's coming next week.

Re:Holy irrelevant comparison, Batman! (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911656)

I don't know why they mentioned CERN instead of Michelle Hunziker, I didn't think Slashdot was THAT bad...

Re:Holy irrelevant comparison, Batman! (2, Funny)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911674)

>> Comparing an entire train's kinetic energy to that of a fundmantal particle's kinetic energy?

This story brought to you by the mass media.

STFU DWEEBS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911800)

CERN's another LARGE TUNNEL PROJECT in the SWISSTZERTLANDS.

Re:STFU DWEEBS! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911808)

Mass, dumbass. Wooosh.

Library of Congress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911872)

Mentioning CERN because it's hosted in the same country as the tunnel? Comparing an entire train's kinetic energy to that of a fundmantal particle's kinetic energy? WTF?

Why don't they compare the number of trains going through it per day to the number of possible subatomic particles while they're at it?

Or better yet, how many Library of Conresses (Conressi?) can be moved by all those trains.

Re:Holy irrelevant comparison, Batman! (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911946)

Why don't they compare the number of trains going through it per day to the number of possible subatomic particles while they're at it?

42. Man, that is scary.

Re:Holy irrelevant comparison, Batman! (1)

nickspoon (1070240) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912010)

If I were trying to think of another famous Swiss tunnel I'd be hard pressed to come up with anything except the LHC.

Re:Holy irrelevant comparison, Batman! (1)

uofitorn (804157) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912320)

I'm sure the kinetic energy of the train was a tongue in cheek reference to the spate of articles and debate in recent weeks regarding what practical effects the LHC beam would have on physical objects in its path. See http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1725592 [ycombinator.com]

The second and third comments are pretty interesting.

Re:Holy irrelevant comparison, Batman! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912654)

I will send 400 trains per day with is more than ten times the number of flavors Baskin Robins offers...

Kinetic Energy? (1)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911570)

with a significantly larger kinetic energy than the LHC's beams.

It's hardly surprising or noteworthy that a hundred-ton train moving at 200 mph has more kinetic energy than a particle accelerator, because the accelerator manipulates extremely small masses and doesn't rely on kinetic energy to propel them. As far as I know the only kinetic energy involved is that of the tiny masses moving under magnetic propulsion and then crashing into things (or each other) at really high speed. So why is the above statement relevant or interesting in the least?

Re:Kinetic Energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911598)

I sure hope it's more than 100 tons. A big rig hauling a single trailer can legally weigh up to 40 tons.

Re:Kinetic Energy? (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911766)

It's hardly surprising or noteworthy that a hundred-ton train moving at 200 mph has more kinetic energy than a particle accelerator, because the accelerator manipulates extremely small masses and doesn't rely on kinetic energy to propel them. As far as I know the only kinetic energy involved is that of the tiny masses moving under magnetic propulsion and then crashing into things (or each other) at really high speed. So why is the above statement relevant or interesting in the least?

Um, yeah, that 15 TeV you keep hearing about wrt the LHC is the kinetic energy at impact (i.e. twice the energy of a single particle). Total beam kinetic energy is much higher. Of course they don't use another form of kinetic energy to propel the particles, but really trains don't either, they're using st. It's a perfectly legitimate comparison to compare the kinetic energy of a train to the kinetic energy of the LHC beams.

Relevant or interesting? Sheesh, I don't know.

Re:Kinetic Energy? (1)

turbidostato (878842) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911836)

"As far as I know the only kinetic energy involved is that of the tiny masses moving under magnetic propulsion"

Given that kinetic energy grows linearly with mass but quadratically with speed even under Netwon Laws and given that those little particles run at speeds near light I wouldn't be surprised if their kinetic energy were a bit over what you think it should. In fact, for a mass particle, no matter how little it is, it's kinetic energy grows up to infinite as it approaches light speed so, theoretically, you could build an accelerator that would make a single subatomic particle to hold kinetic energy well over that of the trains.

Re:Kinetic Energy? (3, Informative)

atisss (1661313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912074)

2,808 bunches per beam, 1.15×10^11 protons per bunch

and

protons at an energy of 7 teraelectronvolts (1.12 microjoules) per particle

115000000000*2808 = 322920000000000 * 1/1000000 J = 322920000 Joules = 322 Megajoules, and 1 Megajoule is approximately the kinetic energy of a one-ton vehicle moving at 160 km/h. So it just takes 200 cars on highway to achieve kinetic energy of LHC

Not surprising! Re:Kinetic Energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912078)

LHC's beams (when nominal) are more powerful than a flying airplane... But they're not more powerful than 200 trains.

Re:Kinetic Energy? (3, Informative)

smolloy (1250188) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912148)

Each particle has 5 TeV of kinetic energy.
There will be (roughly) 1e12 particles per bunch, and (roughly) 1e3 bunches per pulse.

This works out as ~800 MJ per pulse.

That is the same energy as a 1e6 kg train moving at ~80 mph, so the comparison is not as daft as it would seem.

(Note: Those numbers are all pretty rough, and I'm sure someone will be along soon to correct me soon, but the point is that the LHC beams store waaay more KE than you would imagine.)

Re:Kinetic Energy? (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912456)

That is the same energy as a 1e6 kg train moving at ~80 mph, so the comparison is not as daft as it would seem.

I hope the trains don't take as long to get to full speed!

- RG>

Re:Kinetic Energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912526)

Suggested improvement to your comparison:
The trains won't weigh 1e6 kg but will be going quite a bit faster than 80 mph.

Tunnels vs. Highways? (2, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911620)

Somebody here's already looked into this:

If instead of a highway from point A to point B, for travelers going all the way from A to B, what has more capacity: 4 +- lanes of asphalt driven by drivers, or a loading system at A and an unloading system at B? One would imagine multiple on and off ramps, and computer-controlled mux/demux of the carrying platforms.

I know, most people would rather pay $20 in gas + $20 in wear than a $20 toll, but, just supposin'.

Probably multiple stretches of tunnels would really be necessary with a 'pee break' station every 20 minutes or so. Sort of like the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel, but you get to play cards with your kids instead of driving.

Re:Tunnels vs. Highways? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911668)

its mostly meant to be used by cargo transit.... where trains make much more sense.

Re:Tunnels vs. Highways? (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912000)

It makes sense for personal transport too. The trains from Zurich to Milan will make it in 2:40 hrs through the tunnel. Car drive is 3:20 hrs.

Re:Tunnels vs. Highways? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912046)

it makes sense, but it's not what is justifying the tremendous costs. that was payed to get the trucks off the street.

Re:Tunnels vs. Highways? (4, Informative)

chocolatetrumpet (73058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912260)

I'll be honest, the 40 minute savings doesn't really seem to be worth 10 billion dollars, until you realize that the USA could have built 70 of these things instead of the Iraq war...

Re:Tunnels vs. Highways? (3, Informative)

Sique (173459) | more than 3 years ago | (#33913010)

It's 40 minutes for 200 trains per day with 400-1000 passengers each. So it's at least 80,000 times 40 minutes per day saved, and if the tunnel gets used for 50 years, it saves 57.600.000.000 minutes or about 1 billion hours. Makes $10 per hour saved. Sounds sensible to me.

Re:Tunnels vs. Highways? (1)

atisss (1661313) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912184)

If only those tunnels were cheap. Lamanche tunnel starts from 90EUR, but ferry costs under 20EUR

Good for them (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911710)

I don't mean to turn this into a slam against America, but I guess what I'm saying is, and so be it. It's a shame that countries around the world are spending billions on engineering such projects while America is spending trillions on war.

Re:Good for them (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911818)

So which great infrastructure project do you propose that the US should spend money on?

Re:Good for them (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912158)

As opposed to war? All of them.

Re:Good for them (0, Troll)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912816)

Tell me how a war on terrorism is not, in a sense, an infrastructure battle? I seem to recall the terrorists destroyed some of our best infrastructure...

Re:Good for them (3, Insightful)

Surt (22457) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912172)

Well, you could tunnel under the SF bay or the peninsula mountain range and relieve the ridiculous housing pressures in SV.
You could lay FTTH pretty much across the country.
There are a lot of great ideas out there that would help our country compete better, but instead we invest in farm subsidies because our politics are paralyzed.

Re:Good for them (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | more than 3 years ago | (#33913056)

There are a lot of great ideas out there that would help our country compete better, but instead we invest in farm subsidies because our politics are paralyzed.

"Invest"? The only investment happening there is giant agricultural corporations investing in Congressmen.

Re:Good for them (2, Insightful)

instagib (879544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912316)

Updating the nationwide electrical grid, including the ability to connect decentralized producers (solar in the south, wind in the north)?

Re:Good for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912346)

So which great infrastructure project do you propose that the US should spend money on?

Dunno. Could do national high-speed internet access (on par with other countries, or at least on par with other countries in our major population centers and major improvements elsewhere). Could upgrade the power grid to be less susceptible to storms, sabotage, and such. Could do cross-country high-speed rail. Could revamp mass transit otherwise (though I'll grant that'd be a local-area thing, not a federal thing, apart from cross-country stuff).

Could do a lot, is all I'm sayin'.

Re:Good for them (1)

speroni (1258316) | more than 3 years ago | (#33913072)

Transcontinental high speed railways.

Re:Good for them (1)

electron sponge (1758814) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912498)

I don't mean to turn this into a slam against America, but I guess what I'm saying is, and so be it. It's a shame that countries around the world are spending billions on engineering such projects while America is spending trillions on war.

Opinions on whether or not we should be over there aside, I don't see why we can't do both. It's not like all the money is going toward war. It's also a pretty good bet that the war isn't going to last forever. What needs to happen is someone in Washington needs to grow a spine and raise taxes to pay for what we need to pay for, and start trimming the fat going forward. The military is a great place to start, and yes the first thing that should go is the war. Then we can pull all of our troops out of Europe and let the Europeans worry about their own defenses to a much greater degree. I doubt NATO membership requires that America keep troops in Germany and Britain. We should also look at all federal entitlement programs for places to cut (Medicare, for example). The harsh reality no one wants to face is that we can't afford these gigantic spending programs without gigantic tax increases. The American public have made it very clear they don't want tax increases. Perhaps if they were threatened with losing Medicare they'd willingly pony up more? It usually takes a disaster of biblical proportions to get us as a nation to do the right thing.

We need to fix up our aging infrastructure for sure, starting with all the bridges. And then to show those dirty Swiss a thing or two we should dig a tunnel to Switzerland.

Re:Good for them (3, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912698)

What needs to happen is someone in Washington needs to grow a spine and raise taxes to pay for what we need to pay for, and start trimming the fat going forward. The military is a great place to start

Good luck with that. The military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned about is far bigger and more powerful than even he could have predicted, and it's basically unstoppable at this point. Defense contractors lobby Congress to fund giant defense projects of questionable value, Congress people get those giant defense projects built in their districts, and the jobs that get created turn into votes to get them re-elected and more money for the contractors to expand their lobbying efforts. It's a cycle that's good for everyone involved except the taxpayer (other than the ones in the Congress person's district, of course).

Hell, the Secretary of Defense himself got raked over the coals for even daring to suggest the military didn't actually need all of the money they get every year, and wouldn't it be great if they could stop buying all this crap they have no use for. If the guy in charge of the military can't cut the military budget, then who the hell can? Congress sure isn't going to do it, nobody ever gets elected by being "soft on defense", especially in our post-9/11 fear-based system.

Re:Good for them (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33913212)

FWIW, just cause i want to say it,

Fuck Bush. Worst president ever.

Taft was far less daft than the douche we call bouche.

Oxygen (1)

pinkfalcon (215531) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911746)

I remember reading something a while ago, about a train tunnel in Russia that was so long, the coal engine and the passengers used up all the oxygen on it's first trip through, and some bad stuff happened.

I would assume(/cough) hope a modern day train would carry it's own air supply with sufficient reserve supply and backup safety systems in case of a breakdown.

Re:Oxygen (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912084)

That's why they use ventilation systems. One of our railway tunnels had that problem. That was over a hundred years ago, and they finished electrifying it just over a hundred years ago. Even in parking garages, they'll still typically have ventilation fans, though they may or may not need to be on at all times. Cascade Tunnel [wikipedia.org]

Meanwhile in the U.S. (5, Informative)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911752)

A third of the nation's highways are in poor or mediocre shape. Massively leaking water and sewage systems are creating health hazards and contaminating rivers and streams. More than 6,000 of our nation's 115,000 bridges that are part of the national highway system are structurally deficient, and we can't even get a new tunnel built to link traffic from New York and New Jersey to Manhattan.

Re:Meanwhile in the U.S. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911806)

Hey, don't fill bad, you had the Big Dig.

No, on second thoughts, I see what you mean.

Re:Meanwhile in the U.S. (3, Informative)

TimHunter (174406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912076)

Over the past few decades, governments have become entwined in a series of arrangements that drain money from productive uses and direct it toward unproductive ones.

New Jersey can't afford to build its tunnel, but benefits packages for the state's employees are 41 percent more expensive than those offered by the average Fortune 500 company.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/12/opinion/12brooks.html?_r=1&th&emc=th [nytimes.com]

What kind of trains? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911780)

Are we talking passenger trains, freight trains, or both? Will this (presumably) be an electrified train system, so no fumes in the tunnels, or something else? Any word on where the power is expected to come from if electrified (nuclear, coal, gas, hydro? I'm guessing you wouldn't run a train system on wind or solar, but perhaps I'm wrong)?

Re:What kind of trains? (2, Informative)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911816)

Well, this isn't a complete answer, but I just noticed this in the article. . .

"It is also a cornerstone of the policy to move freight in particular from road to rail."

So I guess there will be at least some freight running through it, but there could also be passenger trains running at other times, I suppose.

Re:What kind of trains? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912140)

The tunnel will be used for freight trains and for high speed passenger trains. Passenger trains can travel with up to 250 km/h inside the tunnel.

Re:What kind of trains? (1)

Jeng (926980) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911858)

Isn't electricity once produced and connected to the grid a fungible product?

ie: it doesn't matter where the electricity comes from.

Re:What kind of trains? (1)

JSBiff (87824) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912750)

Yes, this is true, but I wasn't sure if the rails would be powered from the main 'open grid', or if there might be some generation specifically planned for being the primary power source?

Someone in one of the other replies mentioned there are nearby hydro dams already powering some trains in the region, so it might be a lot of the power ends up coming from those. Hard to say without a more definitive answer from someone who knows more about the project and the specific plans being made.

Re:What kind of trains? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911904)

The trains travelling through the Gotthard are already powered by hyrdo power from local dams/generators in the mountains built specifically to supply the rail line.

Re:What kind of trains? (2, Informative)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911910)

Steel on Steel wheels, larger more efficient engine, and a much more areodynamic shape (compared to trucks with shipping containers hauling the same amount of cargo) all comes together to mean that they could generate the power at a coal plant and still be an order of magnitude more efficient than a fleet of semis.

Re:What kind of trains? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912300)

The tunnel will be used for mixed traffic, meaning freight trains traveling at up to 160 km/h (100 mph) and passenger trains traveling at up to 250 km/h (155 mph). (The train schedule planning on mixed lines is an art in and of itself, since the passenger trains obviously do catch up with the freight trains.) Most of the trains will be electric trains powered through a catenary. The same stuff that you'll find anywhere in Western Europe.

The electricity question is a hard one. Electricity production is a long-term planned (by government or huge corporations) economy. They took the decision to build the tunnel in 1993. What you'd really want to know is what kind of power plants they have been building since that decision. I don't know.

Re:What kind of trains? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33912998)

The electricity question is a hard one. Electricity production is a long-term planned (by government or huge corporations) economy. They took the decision to build the tunnel in 1993. What you'd really want to know is what kind of power plants they have been building since that decision. I don't know.

According to SBB Infrastructure [mct.sbb.ch] over 70% of the energy required comes from hydroelectric sources, and the remaining 30% from nuclear power.

Re:What kind of trains? (1)

bsolar (1176767) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912868)

Both, part of the goal is to relieve the already existing Gotthard Road Tunnel which is more dangerous due to possible accidents and cannot last much longer the increase in traffic expected in the future, not to mention the environment considerations. Switzerlands generates most of its energy from hydric plants and nuclear plants, but note that hydric energy is not completely environment-friendly because of the damages on the rivers (still probably a lot better of the impact of coal & company).

Re:What kind of trains? (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912930)

Basicly Switzerland has basicly only electric trains, and the electricity is produced by hydro power.

Re:What kind of trains? (1)

Boldoran (1660753) | more than 3 years ago | (#33913166)

There will be passenger trains and freight trains. The tunnel was partialy paid for by a road toll that every lorry (above a certain weight) that passes through switzerland has to pay (LSVA). The electricity. The federal railway company (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SBB-CFF-FFS) owns several hydro power plants that generate energy for the train network. I don't know if they are sufficent to provide enough power for all the train network but if not the additional power is likely to be produced by nuclear energy.

The first tunnel with high enough kinetic energy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911824)

...to test elements of Supertrain Theory.

Re:The first tunnel with high enough kinetic energ (1)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911942)

Yes. With any luck, they might actually observe the elusive "Gotthard Particle".

137 KM? (1)

Stonesand (922187) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911926)

Here in the United States, we say that the Delaware Aqueduct is 85 miles long. Get off my lawn!

Re:137 KM? (1)

Pieroxy (222434) | more than 3 years ago | (#33912256)

That said, an aqueduct is not a tunnel. So yes, we can still compare man made stuff, but it doesn't make a lot of sense.

Super collider? (2, Funny)

jimmydigital (267697) | more than 3 years ago | (#33911928)

with a significantly larger kinetic energy than the LHC's beams

So... are we going to be colliding trains here then? I don't think I'll be getting a ticket for that route...

In the meantime, the Hudson River Tunnel: canceled (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33911934)

In the meantime, we (as in the US) cancel the Hudson River tunnel. Hats off!

ARC project vs Gotthard Base Tunnel (1)

Reverberant (303566) | more than 3 years ago | (#33913134)

In discussing the ARC project and the Gotthard Base Tunnel pundits have been asking why the 35-mile Gotthard tunnel costs $10 billion dollars while the ARC project (with it's much smaller tunnel) is projected to cost up to $15 billion dollars.

There are a few reasons:

  • The Gotthard tunnel was bored through solid rock while the ARC tunnel will be going through a combination of soil nod chalk. Tunneling through soil is a more complicated operation than tunneling through rock. Using a TBM [wikipedia.org] to tunnel through rock, you can just kick the muck out and keep going. With soil, since soil can't support itself, you have to bring in concrete to support the tunnel as you go or else it will just cave in behind you. Also, different types of cutting wheels may be needed for different types of soils so as you go, you may have to switch out comments on the TBM or you'll get stuck.
  • The Gotthard tunnel was bored through an empty mountain. The ARC tunnel will be bored through through on of the most populous cities in the world with an extensive subterranean infrastructure - it will be going under existing Amtrak and MTA tunnels, various gas/water/sewer lines and surface buildings and care must be taken to prevent subsidence [wikipedia.org] problems (this was an issue with the Big Dig as well).
  • The ARC cost isn't just for the tunnel - it's also for a new station underneath 34th Street (a big deal by itself), a new rail maintenance/storage yard in New Jersey, vent buildings, electrical substations, and rolling stock. Those elements by themselves probably add up to a couple of billion dollars.
  • The wildcard is New York City itself - this project will be happening under and at one of the most populous cities in the world - given real estate costs, the project will be paying top dollar to acquire land for project and construction staging purposes. The project will have to jump through hoops to minimize impact to New Yorkers (it's an underground project but there will be plenty happening at the surface). There will undoubtably be all kinds of contaminated soil the project will come across that will have to be disposed of properly which will also add to the cost.

Wasteful design (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33913000)

Looking at the image [wikimedia.org] , one wonders why they didn't run the thing from Faido to Erstfeld, rather than from Pollegio to Estefeld. The Pollegion to Faido strech of the tunnel runs on basically the same route as the existing road - the only obvious advantage of a tunnel is reduce noise pollution and saved space in the valley. But, that strech seems like it will save little actual travel time at what is likely to be a great capital cost.

Maybe this is like a swiss watch - just a little too precise, and a little too efficient, with more consideration for aesthetics and - if we're honest - ego, than practicality.

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