Switzerland's Gotthard base tunnel, which will provide high-speed rail connectivity between Northern and Southern Europe, witnesses the maiden train journey through it on Wednesday. The tunnel, situated under the Alps, measures 57 km in length and cost $11 billion to build and the construction was completed in 17 years. 

The project has been called "a masterpiece of timing, cost and policy," the Guardian reports. 

Economic benefits of the tunnel include easier movement of goods and passengers, and increase in tourism. The rail network will be open to the public in December 2016. It would also enable 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains to pass through the two-tube tunnel every day in 17 minutes.

Through this tunnel, the journey between Zurich (in Switzerland) and Milan (a province of Italy) would take about two hours and 40 minutes, the BBC reported. 

"Today is an historic day for our country: We have completed the Gotthard Base Tunnel, an epic feat of engineering, a project that has involved generations, from the first sketches, to the planning and construction of the tunnel. I feel extremely proud, but also quite humble," Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann said.