European leaders ride the Gotthard tunnel through the heart of the Alps on its on opening day, in an engineering marvel hailed as a symbol of European unity despite E.U. divisions. Mana Rabiee reports.
And with THAT, Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann officially opens the Gotthard tunnel. It's the world's longest and deepest rail tunnel, an engineering marvel 17 years in the making. It will whisk high speed trains 57 kilometers -- over 35 miles -- straight through the heart of the Alps in just 17 minutes. But it didn't come cheap. The tunnel is part of a $23 BILLION infrastructure project to speed up passenger and cargo rail under the mountain chain that divides Europe's north and south. Still, French President Francois Hollande compares its significance to the Channel Tunnel that linked France and the U.K. more than 20 years ago. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH PRESIDENT, FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, SAYING: "Europe is to build projects together. It's to push our own limits further … It's to link countries and people. Well today, it's in Switzerland that the European dream has matched reality." European leaders were among the first to take a ride through the tunnel. They're calling it part of the 'European dream' of people circulating freely. But in fact Europe is consumed with a migration crisis within its borders and the possibility of Britain leaving the EU. The Gotthard tunnel may be hailed as a symbol of European unity -- but it opens as the continent appears increasingly fragmented.