Dancing about infrastructure
June 1, 2016 10:14 AM   Subscribe

Stretching 57km (35mi) under the Swiss Alps, the Gotthard Base Tunnel officially became the world's longest and deepest active tunnel when it opened for service earlier today, completing a critical link in Europe's rail network. The tunnel's completion was commemorated by an extravagant ceremony and interpretive dance. [The last two links may be NSFW]
posted by schmod (53 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Damn, and I needed just one more card to complete my Altdorf-Blasca route.
posted by Gelatin at 10:18 AM on June 1, 2016


[The last two links may be NSFW]

Let me guess ... Video of trains going in and out of tunnels?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:23 AM on June 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


Oh my god that ceremony. Yes. I love this. Please keep making inscrutable, barely watchable public art. I can see the day coming when instant snarky internet disapproval kills work like this dead before it gets off the ground.
posted by phooky at 10:24 AM on June 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


This is at a marvelous intersection between horrible and wonderful and I hope whatever rustic sylvan elder god this ceremony was meant to consecrate the tunnel to appreciated it.

A topless woman decked as a bird hovered above actors representing the nine construction workers who died during the building of the tunnel

brb updating my will to include new requests for my memorial service
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:25 AM on June 1, 2016 [29 favorites]


interpretive dance

They delved too greedily and too deep.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:31 AM on June 1, 2016 [11 favorites]


Should somebody go tell CNN that they've posted a topless nude on their site.

(I also thought this was a dude at first glance)
posted by schmod at 10:33 AM on June 1, 2016


World's longest tunnel? Multiple heads of state? Pretty sure I've seen this episode of Thunderbirds. Are they travelling on a nuclear-powered train?
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:33 AM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Wowsers - the interpretive dance in the last link gives you the world's longest cringe.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:34 AM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


schmod -- that image was pushed out via AFP so faaaar more places that cnn are running a topless photo.
posted by nathan_teske at 10:43 AM on June 1, 2016


This is so freaking bad ass.

meanwhile in seattle U.S engineers are excited at approaching 2,250 feet after 5 years.

(sorry, always gotta rib the Alaskan Viaduct project at every chance I get)
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:44 AM on June 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


Should somebody go tell CNN that they've posted a topless nude on their site.

That's the US's problem, not Switzerland's, where being topless isn't some criminal act. Photos of topless women can be found in advertisements in city centers, sports events - everywhere.
posted by alex_skazat at 10:47 AM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Engineers had to dig and blast through 73 different kinds of rock, some as hard as granite and others as soft as sugar.

I bet they preferred digging through the one that's more like sugar
posted by Greg Nog at 10:53 AM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing that the soft ones were a nightmare because of how hard they had to work to preserve integrity.
posted by ambrosen at 10:57 AM on June 1, 2016 [6 favorites]


73 different kinds of rock, some as hard as granite

Like granite, for example?
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:00 AM on June 1, 2016 [24 favorites]


I think the ceremony was just a bit of fun, and why not? Otherwise folk would think tunnels were boring.
posted by Emma May Smith at 11:02 AM on June 1, 2016 [14 favorites]


Like granite, for example?

Could be, but I wouldn't want to take anything for granite.
posted by RobotHero at 11:05 AM on June 1, 2016 [11 favorites]




Otherwise folk would think tunnels were boring.

I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE
posted by schmod at 11:09 AM on June 1, 2016 [8 favorites]


I care much less about dignitaries and weird dancers (you do you, ibex furries) than I do about inappropriately anthropomorphized tunnel boring machines.

Sissi got a party, and her head lives in a museumlives at a museum, but it seems like she doesn't like to share the limelight with her sisters Gabi I, Gabi II, and Heidi.

Bless the Maker and all His Water. Bless the coming and going of Him, May His passing cleanse the world. May He keep the world for his people.
posted by sparklemotion at 11:11 AM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Well, I liked the hole thing.
posted by Kabanos at 11:13 AM on June 1, 2016 [5 favorites]


That was a blast!
posted by mazola at 11:18 AM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Autechre dance videos are getting surreal.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 11:22 AM on June 1, 2016


the temperatures can vary as much as 20 degrees F at each end of the tunnel and without ventilation the interior of the tunnel would reach 115 F.

ENGINEERING IS AWESOME
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:22 AM on June 1, 2016


this rocks so hard?
posted by Annika Cicada at 11:23 AM on June 1, 2016


What the hell did I just watch

Where do I see more
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:23 AM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


Engineers had to dig and blast through 73 different kinds of rock, some as hard as granite and others as soft as sugar.

I bet they preferred digging through the one that's more like sugar


Oh, to blast through Sugar Mountain
With the harpies and the orange jumpsuits,
You can see plenty on Sugar Mountain
Though you think you can't be leaving there too soon
Leaving there too soon . . .
 
posted by Herodios at 11:34 AM on June 1, 2016




Man, I'm not usually claustrophobic in tunnels, but 35 miles is a damn long time to be pent in with no way of escape.
posted by tavella at 11:38 AM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


9 people died in the construction of this tunnel. I guess that means it's haunted?
posted by blue_beetle at 11:39 AM on June 1, 2016


Not haunted, but proves that you can be bored to death.
posted by dr_dank at 11:57 AM on June 1, 2016 [4 favorites]


I thought it was nice when it was just "construction workers" dancing with bladeless shovels (or long sticks). Then it got weird and I had no idea what I was supposed to be seeing.
posted by The arrows are too fast at 12:02 PM on June 1, 2016


These are from the Bloomberg article about Seattle's Bertha and I will never get over them.

Yes! The article with the boring machine for a progress bar!

It's OK Bertha! We all get stuck sometimes!
posted by sparklemotion at 12:07 PM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Why are tunnel boring machines anthropomorphised as female? I'm going to stick my neck out here and say that the symbolism of tunnel boring tends towards masculine.
posted by ambrosen at 12:16 PM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Thanks to Bertha, Sound Transit nixes nicknames for its own tunnel machines

“Naming the machine after an individual just doesn’t reflect what the machine is. People can start to personify the machine. It can be an affectionate thing to do, but it doesn’t reflect the work these machines do,” Reason said.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:23 PM on June 1, 2016


Man, I'm not usually claustrophobic in tunnels, but 35 miles is a damn long time to be pent in with no way of escape.

A tunnel, by definition, offers a minimum of two paths of escape.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 12:27 PM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Not when you have vehicles in front of you and behind you!
posted by tavella at 12:39 PM on June 1, 2016


Man, I'm not usually claustrophobic in tunnels, but 35 miles is a damn long time to be pent in with no way of escape.

Well, you can see why they were so eager to appease their god.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:46 PM on June 1, 2016 [2 favorites]


Man, I'm not usually claustrophobic in tunnels, but 35 miles is a damn long time to be pent in with no way of escape.

This particular tunnel is exclusively a rail tunnel, so that's less of a concern. The longest road tunnel in the world is a mere 15 miles long, so there's absolutely no chance of claustrophobia there.
posted by Johnny Assay at 12:54 PM on June 1, 2016


not when it collapses or is on fire or full of bees and then all the lights go out and you're stuck in a collapsed hole underground being attacked by fiery bees

I'm not claustrophobic you're claustrophobic
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 12:55 PM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I guess that the dance with the weird costumes is directly inspired by actual pagan ceremonies that still take place in Europe (including Switzerland) (previously on MeFi).
posted by elgilito at 1:05 PM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


Outstanding title, btw.
posted by rlk at 1:28 PM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


What does the 'base' in 'base tunnel' mean?
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:40 PM on June 1, 2016


Base means that it's bored at the base of the mountain. All the previous alpine tunnels (and those in the Rockies) are at the top of fairly high climbs.
posted by ambrosen at 2:17 PM on June 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


If all of that's not enough, Railway Gazette has a 78-page PDF supplement on the Gotthard Base Tunnel, going into great detail.
posted by acb at 6:05 PM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


I would watch a behind the scenes documentary on how this dance performance got made so hard.
posted by lownote at 6:44 PM on June 1, 2016 [3 favorites]


"Gotthard Massif" is my new porn name. I'll leave the tunnel jokes to others.
posted by bryon at 9:09 PM on June 1, 2016


Juvenile humor aside, this is a tremendously impressive accomplishment. I'd much rather take a train under a mountain than travel over one.
posted by bryon at 9:14 PM on June 1, 2016


I traveled over the mountain decades ago, and it was magnificent.
Now, I want to take that tunnel too.
posted by seawallrunner at 9:56 PM on June 1, 2016


Juvenile humor aside, this is a tremendously impressive accomplishment. I'd much rather take a train under a mountain than travel over one.

In terms of efficiency, absolutely. In terms of scenery, no.

I once had the fortune to take the old route over St. Gotthard's Pass, from Zurich to Milan. (The previous day, the Eurostar to Paris was delayed by 90 minutes, causing me to miss my sleeper train to Florence by 10 minutes. They managed to rebook me on a sleeper to Zurich (which is no longer running) and the Zurich to Milan train the following morning.) The journey from Zurich was the most scenic railway journey I have ever taken; the train made its way past green fields and silvery lakes with little white houses by them, corkscrewing its way up mountains and passing its own route several times, before entering a tunnel. When it emerged on the southern, Italian-speaking side, everything from the climate to the architecture were different; it then made its way down and to the Italian border.

As much as the tunnel is a great achievement and will improve travel times, bring Europe closer together and take dirty diesel lorries off the roads, I can't help but be a little wistful about an hour or so of corkscrewing past magnificent scenery being replaced by disappearing into a dark hole for some twenty minutes.

(I have similarly mixed feelings about the Fehmarn Belt tunnel under the Baltic between Germany and Denmark; it'll be a tremendous capacity improvement, but the experience of watching your train roll onto a ferry, then disembarking and having a drink on the deck while it crosses the Baltic before getting on and resuming your journey on the other side, will have to be sacrificed.)
posted by acb at 3:18 AM on June 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


That opening ceremony (starting at 5:57:56 in the long RT video) was pretty cool, until it somehow veered off into silly self-parody around 6:19:45. Not sure what the point of that final section was.
posted by klausness at 7:18 AM on June 2, 2016


There's also an indoor portion of the opening ceremony. You can see excerpts here, but I haven't been able to find the whole thing uncut anywhere on line.
posted by klausness at 7:26 AM on June 2, 2016


Ah, the entire indoor portion is at 1:58:31 in the long RT video.
posted by klausness at 3:22 PM on June 2, 2016


I didn't even watch the video, but I did read the Wikipedia page:
Access to the Sedrun station site is by a level access tunnel 1 km (0.6 mi) long from the valley floor near Sedrun, at the end of which two vertical shafts lead 800 m (2,625 ft) down to the base tunnel level. A proposal to construct a functioning railway station, called Porta Alpina, at this site was evaluated, but the project was put on hold in 2007 and definitively shelved by the federal authorities in 2012 as uneconomic.
Seems like a shame, that sounds like such a great and bizarre feature to add ... catch an elevator to the top of the Alps ...
posted by nickzoic at 9:20 PM on June 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


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