The hole-through occurred 20km from the northern portal and 27km from the southern portal. The deviation of the two sections of tunnel was tiny: 8cm horizontally and just 1cm vertically.
The event was witnessed by about 200 people including Swiss transport minister, Mr Moritz Leuenberger, who said: "this breakthrough is a symbol of what policy can do when we make it together."
Exploratory boring started in 1993 followed by blasting of the access shafts between 1996 and 1998. Boring of the main tunnels started in 2001, and final hole-through of the western bore is planned for April 2011. The two single-track bores are connected every 325m by 40m-long cross passages. Crossovers and emergency evacuation stations are located one-third and two-thirds along the tunnel. Overall, the project has involved the construction of 151.8km of tunnels, shafts and passages. The current estimate of the final costs of the AlpTransit Gotthard project is SFr 12.25 billion ($US 12.45 billion) of which SFr 9.83 billion is for the Gotthard base tunnel and SFr 2.42 billion is for the associated 15.4km Ceneri base tunnel.
Alp Transit plans to complete the lining of the tunnels and shafts by 2014, but final equipping will start before this. It is planned to open the tunnel in December 2017. This will create a fairly level railway through the Alps and cut the journey time from Zurich to Milan from 3h 40min to 2h 50min. The project will also allow the capacity of freight trains to be doubled to 4000 tonnes and the number of freight trains per day to increase from 150 to 200.