The world’s longest railway tunnel, the Gotthard Base Tunnel, was opened after many years of construction. Trains can travel at speeds of up to 250 km an hour through the 57 km long tunnel. It took 17 years to complete and cost $12 billion. The engineeringmilestone will bring southern Germany and northern Italy closer together.
The new Gotthard Base Tunnel is also the world’s deepest tunnel, located 2300 metres below Swiss mountain peaks. A total of 2600 workers involved in building the tunnel had to excavate more than 28 million tonnes of rock.
Gottardinoshuttle trains will be running between the two endpoints of the tunnel and make a stop at Sedrun, a mountain station in the middle. 65 passenger and 240 freight trains are expected to travel through the tunnel every day. The Gotthard Base Tunnel will reduce the time it takes trains to pass through the Alps. A journey from Zurich to Milan, for example, will be reduced by an hour.
The new tunnel is part of a larger European transportation project that includes two other tunnels in the Alps. Ultimately, the EU plans a high-speed rail connection between its two majorharbours, Rotterdam and Genoa.
During the course of history the Alps have been a natural barrier to travel. In the past traders and merchants had to use mountain passes to travel from north to south. The first Gotthard rail tunnel opened in 1882, but as time went on it could not handle the growing traffic.
In the 1990s, Swiss citizens approved of a government plan to build a new tunnel. How hard such a construction feat would be soon became obvious . In places where there was hard rock boring was extremely slow. Workers could only advance only about half a metre every day.
The new tunnel is expected to reduce road traffic crossing the Alps as more and more lorries and cargo companies will put their freight on Swiss trains.
advance = move forward
approve = to agree with something or to say yes to a plan
barrier = a mountain, lake or any other natural object that stops people from going somewhere
boring = to make a hole in the mountain by using a special machine
cargo = goods carried by a train, ship, lorry, plane etc..
citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
course of history = as time went on
complete = finish
connection = joining or linking two places
construction = building
engineering = the building of roads, railways bridges etc..
excavate = remove earth
feat = something very difficult to do
freight = goods that are transported from one place to another
handle = deal with
harbour = place where ships load and load goods
high-speed = very fast
include = something as part of something else
involved = here: worked at the tunnel site
journey = trip
located = where something lies
lorry = truck ; large car that carries goods
major = very big and important
merchant = person who bought and sold things in the past
milestone = an important development in history
obvious = easy for everyone to see
peak = the top part of a mountain
reduce = lower
shuttle = train that travels regularly between two places
speed = how fast something is
Swiss = from Switzerland
ultimately = here: when the whole project is finished
Barack Obama has become the first American president to visit Hiroshima. During his recent visit to Japan he visited the city which was destroyed by the first atomic bomb.
Together with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Obama laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. In an emotional speech, Obama did not apologize to the Japanese people, but called the dropping of the first atomic bomb the biggest crime in human history. The American president demanded a world without nuclear weapons. The United States would also continue to stand by Japan, which turned from an enemy into an important ally in Asia. After the ceremony, Obama signed the guest book and spoke with survivors.
About 140,000 people were killed on August 6, 1945 when in the first atomic bomb exploded over the city. An additional 70000 died when the second bomb was dropped over Nagasaki. Nine days later Japan surrendered and World War II ended. Tens of thousands died from radiation illnesses in the decades that followed.
Obama did not mention the 20 000 Korean victims, who were forced to work for the Japanese in Hiroshima at the time of the bombing.
Although visiting Hiroshima has been a very sensitive issue for past American presidents, polls revealed that most Japanese wanted Obama to visit the city.
additional = extra
ally = a friendly country that you help
although = while
apologize = to say you are sorry for what happened
continue = keep on
crime = an action that is against the law
decade = period of ten years
demand = want, wish for
destroy = to damage completely, so that nothing is left
emotional = with strong feelings
force = make someone do something
lay a wreath = put down a circle of flowers at a place where people have died
memorial = an object or building that has been built to honor a person or a famous event
mention = talk about
nuclear weapon = a bomb that releases energy by splitting atoms; it can kill thousands of people and destroy whole cities
poll = a study in which people are asked about their opinion on a certain topic
radiation illness = here : people who became sick because of the dangerous energy that came from the bombs
recent = a short time ago
reveal = show
sensitive issue = here: something that you have to deal with carefully, so that you do not make others angry
sign = put your name on a document
stand by = support, help when it is needed
surrender = give up
survivor = person who managed to live on after the bombing
London’s Heathrow Airport is celebrating its 70th anniversary. The airport opened commercial services in 1946. Today over 70 million people pass through Heathrow Airport every year. It services 180 destinations in 90 countries. Over 93% of all passengers are international travellers. In 2015, Heathrow was the world’s sixth largest airport.
Heathrow,originally named London airport, lies 14 miles (22 km) west of central London . Construction of a military airport began in 1944. By the time it was finished the war had ended and Heathrow was turned over to civil authorities. The first passenger plane flew to Buenos Aires. In its first year of operation, 60000 passengers travelled through Heathrow Airport.
As time went on Heathrow grew and grew. In the last 10 years the airport has invested billions of dollars in modernising facilities for travellers.
Last year Terminal 1 was closed to make way for a modernised Terminal 2, which was reopened in 2014. Currently, the airport has two runways but there are plans for the construction of a third runway for Europe’s busiest airport.
anniversary = day on which an important event happened years ago
celebrate = to show that a day in history is important by doing something special on it
civil authorities = organisation that belongs to the public, not the military
commercial service = here: people pay money for travelling to and from other places
construction = building something
currently = at the moment
destination = place to travel to
facility = place or building that you use for something special
invest = here: to spend money to make it better
operation = here: in use
originally = at first
reopen = open again after being closed for some time
runway = long flat piece of ground on which planes take off and land
The American pharmaceutical conmpany Pfizer has said it will no longer sell drugs that can be used for lethal injections to the Amercian government. A total of 7 substances on the list are mostly used for operations and certain illnesses but are also in liquids used for executions. According to a Pfizer representative, the company’s aim is to save lives and not help kill people.
Pfizer says it will closely monitor buyers who try to resell the drugs to state institutions, which may use them for executions.
After Pfizer’s decision , there are no more companies in the USA and Europe that sell lethal injection drugs to the Amercian government . The European Union has banned the export of such drugs to the US.
As a result, state authorities are trying to find new drugs and combinations of substances that can be used for executions. Normally, three mixtures of drugs are used to execute a prisoner. The first one makes you unconscious , the second liquidparalyses the muscles and the third stops the heart from beating.
In the past few years, the number of executions has decreased, in partdue to the availability of lethal drugs. Last year only 28 executions were carried out in the US. Among the 32 states that allow capital punishment, all of them use lethal injections as the main method of execution but some allow the electric chair,hanging, the firing squad and the gas chamber as alternatives.
Human rights organizations and other groups opposed to capital punishment have welcomed Pfizer’s decision as a bold move to ban the death penalty in the United States.
according to = as said by …
aim = what someone wants to do or achieve something
authorities = group of people who make decisions and have power in certain areas
availability = the fact that something can be bought and used
ban = forbid, not allow
bold move = action that shows a lot of courage
capital punishment = to officially kill a person who has committed a crime
combination = mixture
death penalty = to officially kill a person who has committed a crime
decrease = go down
drug = chemical that is used as medicine
due to = because of
execution = the official killing of a person by the state
firing squad = group of people who are ordered to shoot and kill a prisoner
government = the people who rule a country
human rights = the basic rights that everyone should have, like the right to vote or the freedom of speech
illness = disease
in part = partly
lethal injection = a drug that is injected into your blood stream; it is used to execute people who have committed certain crimes
liquid = substance like water
main = most important
method = way
mixture = here: combination of liquids
monitor = watch closely
opposed to = against
paralyse = if a person cannot move arms or legs or feel anything
pharmaceutical = about producing medicine
resell = sell again
substance = here: drug, medicine
unconscious = if you are not awake and do not know what is going on around you