by ASSOCIATED PRESS | December 12, 2016

Frankfurt, Germany (AP) - Switzerland's national rail company SBB has started regular service through the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world's longest railway tunnel. The first trains ran from Zurich to Lugano on Sunday, SBB said in a statement and YouTube video.

The 35.4-mile (57 km) tunnel can save 30 minutes travel time. It also increases capacity for freight trains and relieves the burden on roads by shifting the flow of freight over the Alps from truck to rail.

The tunnel took 17 years to build and cost US$12 billion. There was a formal inauguration in June with VIPs.

The Gotthard tunnel pushes Japan's 33.5-mile (53.9 km) Seikan tunnel into second place. Third-longest is the 31.4-mile (50.5 km) Channel tunnel connecting Britain and France.