Miners have made the penultimate breakthrough in the construction of the Ceneri Base Tunnel in Switzerland.
The blast, which was carried out 700 metres from the north portal at Camorino in the west tunnel, was shown live on Swiss TV.
Through a combination of drilling and blasting, miners have been excavating the tunnel inwards from the north and south portals. Meeting in the middle, the two bores deviated by just 2 cm horizontally and 1 cm vertically.
The final breakthrough will take place in the east tunnel next week.
Due to be commissioned in 2020, the Ceneri Base Tunnel – a 15.4-kilometre railway tunnel through Monte Ceneri – is being constructed alongside the Gotthard Base Tunnel.
Lining of the tunnels will be completed by the end of this year and installation of the railway systems will start next summer.
Addressing the 1,000-strong project workforce, Renzo Simoni, chief executive officer of AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd, said: “You have done a tremendous job and can justifiably feel proud.
“Without your dedication this great success would not have been possible.”