The 10 longest tunnels in the world

Summary

What is the longest tunnel in the world? Here is a ranking of the longest rail (and road) tunnels ever built on Earth!

Tunnels are one of those spectacular structures that showcase engineering. Built across mountains and even under the sea to meet rail and road needs, the world's largest tunnels feature unusual dimensions. The recent inauguration of the world's longest tunnel in Switzerland in 2016 has led us to establish an updated ranking of the world's longest tunnels.


Please note that this ranking only covers railway tunnels open to traffic and excludes aqueducts, underground tunnels and canal tunnels.

10. Iwate-Ichinohe Tunnel, Japan (25.8 km)

The Iwate-Ichinohe tunnel is a 25.81 km long railway tunnel located north of the Tōhoku Shinkansen line connecting Tokyo to Aomori in Japan. When it opened in 2002, it was the longest land tunnel in the world, before being overtaken in June 2007 by the Lötschberg Base Tunnel.

9. Hakkôda Tunnel, Japan (26.45 km)

Bored on 27 February 2005 and opened on 4 December 2010, the Japanese Hakkôda railway tunnel is 26.45 km long. It is located north of the Tōhoku Shinkansen line.


8. Taihang Tunnel, China (27.8 km)

The Taihang tunnel is the third longest mountain railway tunnel in China. It is a double-tube tunnel and was built to allow the Shitai Passenger Railway to cross the mountains of Taihang. The left tube is 27.84 km long and the right tube is 27.85 km long. The tunnel was completed on 22 December 2007.

7. Guadarrama Tunnel, Spain (28.4 km)

The 28.4 km Guadarrama railway tunnel, built as part of the Madrid-Valladolid high-speed line, is the longest railway tunnel in Spain and the seventh longest railway tunnel in the world. The two-tube tunnel crosses the Sierra de Guadarrama, about 45 km north of Madrid, and opened in 2007.

6. New Guanjiao Tunnel, China (32.65 km)

The New Guanjiao Tunnel is a railway tunnel located in China, which is the longest high altitude tunnel in the world, as it is built at an altitude of more than 3300 meters.

5. Lötschberg Base Tunnel, Switzerland (34.6 km)

The Lötschberg Base Tunnel is a railway tunnel linking Frutigen and Raron in Switzerland. This tunnel crosses the Swiss Alps about 400 metres below the existing Lötschberg tunnel. It can save up to an hour to cross the Alps to Italy. The journey from Basel to Milan will take only four hours.

4. Yulhyeon Tunnel, South Korea (50.3 km)

The Yulhyeon Tunnel is the fourth longest tunnel in the world, just behind the Channel Tunnel. Inaugurated in 2015, work is currently underway to complete the final permanent installations in preparation for the planned opening of rail services in July 2017. It will host part of the Suseo high-speed line in South Korea.


3. Channel Tunnel, France / Great Britain (50.5 km)

The Channel Tunnel, one of the largest engineering projects ever undertaken in the world, is a rail tunnel linking Folkestone in the UK with Coquelles in northern France. The tunnel carries Eurostar TGV passenger trains and Eurotunnel's shuttle for road vehicles. It is currently the tunnel with the longest underwater section in the world.

2. Seikan Tunnel, Japan (53.9 km)

The Seikan Railway Tunnel runs under the Tsugaru Strait in Japan and connects Aomori Prefecture on Honshu Island and Hokkaido Island. The Seikan Tunnel is the deepest railway tunnel in the world, with its route located 140 meters underwater.

1. Gotthard Base Tunnel, Switzerland (57.1 km)

The Gotthard Base Tunnel, which entered into operation on December 11, 2016, has become the longest tunnel in the world at 57.1 km. Its main purpose is to facilitate trade between northern and southern Europe, especially for freight, and to shift freight volumes from road to rail to reduce the fatal accidents and environmental damage caused by an increasing number of heavy goods vehicles. The colossal project took 17 years to complete and cost nearly €11 billion.

Bonus: Lærdal Tunnel, Norway (24.5 km), the world's longest road tunnel

The Lærdal Tunnel is a 24.5 km long road tunnel between Lærdal and Aurland in Norway. Since its opening in 2000, it has been the longest road tunnel in the world. The design of the tunnel takes into account the stress of the crossing for drivers. The tunnel is distinguished by three large caverns dug into the mountain, which break up the routine, providing a soothing and bright view.

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