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World’s Top 10 Longest Railway Tunnels [Comprehensive Analysis & Statistics]

Longest Railway Tunnels

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The Gotthard Base tunnel in Switzerland is the longest railway tunnel in the world right now. The 35-mile-long Gotthard tunnel was built so that high-speed trains could go from Genoa, Italy, to Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The tube is also the world’s deepest, going down 2,300 meters. 

The second-longest train tunnel in the world, after the Gotthard, is the Seikan tunnel in Japan. The length of this tunnel is about 33.4 miles. The Seikan tunnel was built 100 meters (328 feet) below the surface of the ocean. This part of the tube is 14.5 miles long. Since 1988, this tunnel has been open and being used.

The Channel Tunnel is the third largest train tunnel in the world. It is 31.4 miles long and runs along the border between the UK and France. This tunnel is also the longest undersea train tunnel in the world. Before this tunnel could be used for the first time in 1994, it took almost six years to finish. 

Longest Railway Tunnels At A Glance

Name

Location

Length

Year

Gotthard Base Tunnel

Central Swiss Alps, Switzerland

57,104 m (35.5 mi)

2016

Seikan Tunnel

Tsugaru Strait, Japan

53,850 m (33.5 mi)

1988

Channel Tunnel

English Channel, United Kingdom / France

50,450 m (31.3 mi)

1994

Yulhyeon Tunnel

Seoul Capital Area, South Korea

50,300 m (31.3 mi)

2016

Songshan Lake Tunnel

Dongguan, China

35,391 m (22.0 mi)

2016

Lötschberg Base Tunnel

Bernese Alps, Switzerland

34,577 m (21.5 mi)

2007

New Guanjiao Tunnel

Qinghai, China

32,645 m (20.3 mi)

2014

Guadarrama Tunnel

Sierra de Guadarrama , Spain

28,377 m (17.6 mi)

2007

West Qinling Tunnel

Gansu, China

28,236 m (17.5 mi)

2016

Taihang Tunnel

Taihang Mountains , China

27,848 m (17.3 mi)

2007

Top 10 Longest Railway Tunnels in the World in 2023

1. Gotthard Base Tunnel

Longest Railway Tunnels

  • Length: 57 kilometres
  • Location: Switzerland

This tunnel through the Swiss Alps is the longest and deepest traffic tunnel in the world. It goes through the Alps for 151.84 kilometres and is 57.09 kilometres long. It has two tubes. The tunnel is part of the New Railway Link through the Alps (NRLA), which is a project to make the journey faster from north to south through the Alps.

Read More: Highest Railway Station in Europe

2. Seikan Tunnel

  • Length: 53 kilometres
  • Location: Japan

Japan’s 53.85-kilometre Seikan tunnel is one of the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnels. It passes through the Tsugaru Strait, which connects the islands of Hokkaido and Honshu.

It was constructed 100m below the ocean floor and comprises a 23,3 km submerged section. It was officially inaugurated in March 1988 and is utilized by express trains.

The Japan Railway Construction, Transport, and Technology Agency sponsored JR Hokkaido to operate the tunnel. The tunnel’s internal height and width are 7.85 meters and 9.7 meters, respectively.

The tunnel was constructed using 168 000 metric tons of steel, 1.74 million cubic meters of concrete, and 2,860 metric tons of explosives. The primary construction contractor was Seikan Construction Bureau. Inside the tunnel are the Tappi Kaitei and Yoshioka Kaitei stations.

3. Channel Tunnel

Longest Railway Tunnels in the World

  • Length: 50 kilometres
  • Location: United Kingdom

The Channel Tunnel goes under the English Channel from Folkestone, England, to Coquelles, France. It is the only permanent way to get from Great Britain to the rest of Europe. The tunnel is 50.45 km long and costs £9 billion to build. It was finished in 1994.

This tunnel, which is sometimes called the “Chunnel,” is the third-longest railway tunnel in the world. It also has the longest part of any transportation tunnel that goes under the sea. The tunnel is used by both passenger and freight trains, as well as a shuttle train for cars.

4. Yulhyeon Tunnel

  • Length: 50 kilometres
  • Location: South Korea

The Yulhyeon Tunnel in South Korea is a single-tube tunnel with two tracks. It is part of the Suseo High-Speed Railway, which connects Seoul and Pyeongtaek. The New Austrian Tunnel Method (NATM) was mostly used to build the tunnel. This method works best when the rock and soil conditions change. 

The Yulhyeon Tunnel in South Korea is the fourth-longest train tunnel in the world. It is 50,3 km long. It was finished at the end of 2016 and links Suseo Station in the southeast of Seoul to the Gyeongbu high-speed railway. The tunnel was built so that cars could go up to 300 km/h.

Read Also: World Longest Flight

5. Songshan Lake Tunnel

  • Length: 35 kilometres
  • Location: China

China’s largest train tunnel is the Songhan Lake Tunnel. It is 35.391 kilometres long and goes through the province of Dongguan in China. It was finished in 2016.

6. Lötschberg Base Tunnel

Longest Railway Tunnels in the World

  • Length: 34 kilometres
  • Location: Switzerland 

The Lotschberg Base Tunnel was built in the Swiss Alps. The 34.6-kilometre-long tunnel lets BLS run both passenger trains and freight trains on the Lotschberg line. Trains go 250 km/h on a track in the tunnel that doesn’t have ballast.

Construction on the tunnel started in April 2005 and was finished in 2006. It started running at full capacity in December 2007. About 20% of the tube was built with tunnel boring machines, and the rest was built with traditional blasting methods. The amount of stuff dug out of the tunnel was 16 million tonnes.

The tunnel was supposed to have two single-track tubes, but it was only half finished because only one of the tubes was fully equipped and the other was mostly just a shell. At 333m intervals, there are tunnels that go across the two tubes and join them.

7. New Guanjiao Tunnel

  • Length: 32 kilometres
  • Location: China

Part of the Qinghai–Tibet Railway, the New Guanjiao Tunnel goes through Guanjiao Mountain in the Qinghai Province of China. The tunnel was built from 2004 to 2014 when it was publicly opened.

This tunnel was the longest underground train tunnel in China until 2016 when the Songshan Lake Tunnel became longer.

Also Read: Top Ten Fastest Cars in World

8. Guadarrama Rail Tunnel

Longest Railway Tunnels in the World

  • Length: 28 kilometres
  • Location: Spain

The Guadarrama tunnel is Spain’s longest two-tube tunnel. For the high-speed train between Madrid and Valladolid, a 28.4-kilometre tunnel is being dug through the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range. From their centres out, the two parallel tubes are 30 m apart.

Between 2002 and 2007, TBMs made by Herrenknecht and Wirth were used to build the tunnel. The Spanish company Administrador de Infraestructuras Ferroviarias (ADIF), which is owned by the government, paid for the project. The northern part of the tunnel was built by FCC Construction.

The tunnel is 8.5m across on the inside and 9.45m across where it was dug. The two tubes are connected by passageways that are every 250m. In the middle of the tube, there is an emergency room that can fit up to 1,200 people.

9. West Qinling Tunnel

  • Length: 28 kilometres
  • Location: China

The West Qingling Tunnel is in the middle of the Qin Mountains, where the Chongqing–Lanzhou Railway crosses. It is in the isolated province of Gansu in the northwestern part of China. It is 28.236 kilometres long. The tunnel was built between 2008 and 2016, but it didn’t open until the end of 2016.

You can Read: Largest Cities in the World 2023

10. Taihang Tunnel

  • Length: 27 kilometres
  • Location: China

Taihang Tunnel is the tenth-longest railway tunnel in the world. It is in the Taihang Mountains in China. As part of the Shijiazhuang-Taiyuan railway project, the 27.8-kilometre-long twin-tube tunnel was built to go through the Taihang Mountains. In December 2007, the tunnel was done being built.

With a maximum cover of 445m, the tunnel goes through Yue Xiao, which is the main peak of the Taihang Mountains. The length of the left track is 27,839m, and the length of the right track is 27,848m. There are 35m between the two holes. Pöyry made the design for the tube.

Conclusion

The Gotthard Base Tunnel is the world’s longest tunnel, connecting north and south for both people and goods. The Seikan Tunnel is the oldest railway tunnel in the world, connecting Honshu and Hokkaido Islands in Japan. The Channel Tunnel is the world’s longest undersea tunnel, connecting France to the United Kingdom in Europe. The Yulhyeon Tunnel is part of the Suseo High-Speed Railway, connecting Suseo Station in Seoul and Pyeongtaek in South Korea.


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