A few decades ago, it would have been inconceivable to think a tunnel would transport us under the sea to another country. Underground tunnels connecting major stations within a huge city were all but dreams in futuristic comic books, and the thought of a tunnel underneath the Swiss Alps? Never!
Jump forward to 2012 and we’re looking at world full of connecting tunnels, meaning easier transportation for all of us, be it to different points in a city at high speed, or even from country to country. Read on for the top five longest tunnels in the world at the present time.
1. Guangzhou Metro, Line 3 (China)
At a staggering 41.8 miles long, the Guangzhou Metro line 3 is the world’s longest rapid transit tunnel, which basically means it connects points around the metro system. In this instance, line 3 connects Tianhe Coach Terminal to Panyu Square. The entire metro system has 8 lines in total and over the course of 2012, it was used by an estimated 1.85 billion users. That’s a lot of people and a lot of travel!
2. Beijing Subway, Line 10 (China)
Half opened back in 2008 and fully so in 2012, the Bejing Subway as a whole is one of the longest in the world. Line 10 is 34.1 miles long and forms a loop, connecting various lines and points in the subway system. Always very busy and still being worked on to develop it further.
3. Seikan Tunnel, Japan
The Seikan Tunnel runs underneath the sea, namely the Tsugaru Strait, with a section 240m below sea level. This Japanese construction is currently the longest and deepest rail tunnel in the world, but will soon be overtaken by the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland, which is due to open in 2016/17, and will be the world’s longest rail tunnel (see below).
4. Channel Tunnel (England To France)
Connecting the UK and mainland Europe, namely France, the Channel Tunnel opened in 1994 and currently has the longest underwater section of any tunnel in the world. The tunnel links Folkestone in Kent, UK, with Coquelles, near Calais in France. It runs beneath the English Channel and carries Eurostar passenger trains, Eurotunnel vehicle transportation and international freight trains daily, all year around.
5. Seoul Subway, Line 5 (S. Korea)
Built in 1995, line 5 of the Seoul Subway is one of two lines to cross underneath the Han River. It has a massive 51 stations along the line and heads from west to east across Seoul. Standing at 29.6 miles, it is the fifth longest tunnel in the world.
When the Gotthard Base Tunnel (a railway tunnel of 35 miles, passing deep below the Swiss Alps) is completed, this list will change slightly. However line 3 of the Guangzhou Metro remains number one.
You may have noted that all the above are Rail/Metro tunnels. The longest road tunnel in the world (I hear you asking) – The Lærdal Tunnel in Norway – at just over 15 miles long
I have personally travelled on the Channel Tunnel and the thought of travelling underneath the sea to another country is really quite astounding. It just goes to show that the developments in transportation continue to grow and baffle common sense, but opens up a whole world of possibility for us all.