Switzerland opens world’s steepest railway

The Stoos Bahn has opened to the public in Switzerland and is now the world’s steepest railway – or funicular with the exact terminology.

It runs from the town of Schwyz up 110m to the car-free Alpine village of Stoos and the steepest gradient is 110%. Due to the gradients involved it also has specially constructed cylindrical wagons with tilting floors in order to make the short journey more comfortable for the riders.

Source: BBC News

World’s longest tunnel is inaugurated

The Gotthard Base Tunnel had its official inauguration ceremony on June 1. Even if normal traffic will not start until December.

With a length of 57.5 km it is the current record-holder of longest tunnel, overtaking the earlier longest tunnel – Japanese Seikan tunnel between the tho islands of Honshu and Hokkaido – which is 53.9 km. The new Gotthard tunnel is simultaneously the world’s deepest tunnel with 2.3 km of mountain above its deepest point.

Source: BBC News

A future tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn?

Architect composite depiction of rail connection
Architect composite depiction (Sweco).

A preliminary feasibility study on a tunnel between the Finnish capital Helsinki and the Estonian capital of Tallinn concludes that the future construction of such a connection is worth more study.

A rail transport connection between the two cities would include the construction of a tunnel under the Gulf of Finland at a current cost estimate of 9 to 13 billion euros.

Source: YLE

The problem with Swiss nudist hikers

Nudist hikers in Harz, Germany, where hiking in the nude is allowed. Photo: DPA.
Nudist hikers in Harz, Germany, where hiking in the nude is allowed. Photo: DPA.

The Swiss cantonal government of Appenzell Innerrhoden wants a new law in place to cope with the rise in popularity of nudist mountain hiking.

I must admit that until I read this news, I hadn’t even reflected over the possibility that it was something that existed, and definitely not something that apparently has become so prevalent that the canton sees it as a problem. To be perfectly honest, I’m almost as surprised – if not more – to read that it apparently under current Swiss law is perfectly legal. As for the actual question at hand, I don’t know what to say.

Photo: DPA

France’s turn to lead EU

From 1 July France holds the rotating EU presidency and for the coming six months it’s up to french president Nicholas Sarkozy to try to steer the EU, a task that is made more complicated by the Irish no to the proposed reform treaty. Nevertheless he has ambitious plans for the future of the union. Beside trying to solve the administrative crisis brought on by the Irish referendum, high on the list are also the Mediterranean Union project and the climate.

Source: Tagesschau.de