An anonymous reader quotes a report from Los Angeles Times: More than 2,200 years after the commander from the ancient North African civilization of Carthage led his army of elephants and troops over Europe's highest mountain chain, the Swiss have completed another gargantuan task: burrowing the world's longest railway tunnel under the Swiss Alps to improve European trade and travel. European dignitaries on Wednesday inaugurated the 35.4-mile Gotthard Railway Tunnel, a major engineering achievement deep under the Alps' snow-capped peaks. It took 17 years to build at a cost of 12.2 billion Swiss francs ($12 billion) -- but workers kept to a key Swiss tradition and brought the massive project in on time and on budget. It also bores deeper than any other tunnel, running about 1.4 miles underground at its maximum depth. The thoroughfare aims to cut travel times, ease roadway traffic and reduce the air pollution spewed from trucks traveling between Europe's north and south. Set to open for commercial service in December, the two-way tunnel can handle up to 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains per day.