The Swiss Gotthard high-speed rail tunnel that goes through the Swiss Alps and connects North and South Europe opened on Wednesday. The project is expected to completely change freight transport in the continent and goods that are carried by up to a million lorries each year will now go via this route.

The video above offers a 360-degree view of the ride.

The route was formally opened by Swiss Federal President Johann Schneider-Ammann and transport minister Doris Leuthard and after their speeches, two trains set off in opposing directions, packed with guests who had won tickets in a lucky draw.

The base tunnel, which cost $12 billion and 17 years of work to make, overtakes the previous tunnel to hold the record was Seiken tunnel in Japan which is 53.9 km. Not only is it the longest tunnel, but, at a depth of 2.3 km, it is also deeper than any other tunnel by 2.2 km. It is also the first tunnel through the Alps that goes on a flat journey, unlike the Gotthardbahn base tunnel.

The tunnel will undertake test runs until December 2016, when it will go to full service. It cuts travel time through Switzerland by 45 minutes and travel time between Zurich and Milan by 90 minutes, and reduces traffic, accidents and environmental impact caused by the lorries. When it finally opens, 260 freight trains and 65 passenger trains will travel through the tunnel each day.

The tunnel hasn't come without setbacks. Eight miners lost their lives while it was being built.

Below is a documentary about the tunnel while it was being built.