After over a decade of work Swiss engineers drilling the world’s longest tunnel broke through the last section of rock. With a length of 57 km (35 miles) crossing the Alps, the train tunnel should become operational at the end of 2017. The pictures coverage of the final break-through at the Faido-Sedrun section, shooting and transmitting the pictures from the intestines of the earth was a rare and difficult challenge for Zurich based Reuters photographers Arnd Wiegmann and Christian Hartmann.

Working on this major Swiss story for the past few years and covering all major steps of the construction, we decided to go underground some days before the ceremony, to produce pictures to illustrate preview stories. Our images were very well published in the week before ‘Drilling D-Day’.

Visitors walk through the construction site of the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel at the Erstfeld-Amsteg section October 5, 2010.    REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

While working underground we managed to secure an internet connection, essential to send out our pictures promptly. To shoot the right images is important, but to make them available for clients as soon as possible is the basis of our wire agency business.

As a special event needs special equipment, Arnd built a camera support in order to trigger simultaneously three cameras installed on the same tripod. “I wanted to release two Canon EOS 1 Mark IV cameras with two 16-35mm lenses from the same angle to shoot the moment of the final break through with short and long shutter speeds. In order to fix a 3-D camera it was necessary to build a special plate for the head of the tripod”, he explained.

A view of the camera set-up to cover the NEAT Gotthard Base Tunnel October 15, 2010.   REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

After talks with officials, it was clear that the number of media representatives would be strictly limited to 40. Among them would be a regular Reuters photographer and a Pool shooter provided by our agency.