Scheduled passenger and freight services begin through Gotthard Base Tunnel

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Photo: SBB.

Passenger and freight trains have begun scheduled services through the Gotthard Base Tunnel, marking the completion of a record-breaking project.

The first two trains to use the tunnel left Zurich and Basel for Lugano, a city in the Italian-speaking Ticino region close to the border with Italy, at 6:09 am and 4.55 am respectively on December 11 as the new 2017 timetable was introduced.

An official opening ceremony was held at Lugano station following their arrival.

The 57-kilometre tunnel, which provides a new, faster connection between Switzerland and Italy, is in the Guinness Book of Records as longest rail tunnel in the world.

From December 11, Journey times between Switzerland and Lugano will be shortened by around 30 minutes and the number of train paths for freight services will increase from 180 to 210 a day.

The true benefit of the project will be clear in a few years time once the Ceneri Base Tunnel has been completed and the new EC250 trains from Stadler have been introduced.

From 2020, passengers travelling between Zurich and Milan will see journey times cut by around an hour and freight paths through the tunnel will rise to 260 per day.

Correction: Although Italian-speaking, Lugano is most definitely in Switzerland.

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