23-26/2016 Records and moments
One major event is following hot on the heels of the last one these days. No, really, it’s true, now more so than at other times. As we’re headquartered in the Swiss city of Basel, I’ll begin with the official opening of Switzerland’s new Gotthard base tunnel through the Alps early in June.
There’s a plethora of superlatives that apply to the 57 km passage. Tunnel of the century is one, others include longest railway tunnel in the world, work of engineering art, and heart of the trans-Alpine project. Symbolic moments are significant, it’s true, but everyday operations should dominate our analysis. Once the ongoing test phase has been completed, railfreight operations will commence in December. We’re looking forward to greater cargo capacities, faster services and improved reliability for Europe’s north–south rail goods flows!
A referendum in the United Kingdom on 23 June, answering the question of whether the country should stay in or leave the EU, is almost as important. Shippers have taken a critical stance towards the Brexit. The more than 50 corporations in the European Round Table of Industrialists (including Shell, Rio Tinto and L’Oréal, amongst others), evoked the unity of the continent’s economic and free trade zone in Brussels recently. It remains to be seen whether the voters on the other side of the Channel were impressed.
I recently suggested to an English colleague who lives in the Scottish capital Edinburgh that it is entirely possible that those in favour of the Brexit may rule the roads today – as was the case with the yes camp in the vote for Scottish independence – but the silent majority may in the end well vote against the Brexit, as Scotland voted against independence.
Not everything has to be sacrificed at the altar of commercial interests, however. The European football championship kicked off on 10 June, and we’re looking forward to four weeks of great – and hopefully peaceful – sport. At the same time we’ll be following the Copa América with our American friends from Tierra del Fuego to Alaska, all the way to the final on 27 June – the same day the expanded Panama Canal opens; we won’t mind being overtaken by Chinese engineers and their 123 km subsea railway tunnel in the Bay of Bohai; we’ll congratulate Senegal on its grandiose biennale; and be happy for Malta and its 5.2% rise in GDP in Q1 / 2016.
Here’s to your enjoyment of this issue of the ITJ – especially those readers turning the pages of our Specials in Malta and Africa.
Have a good start to a great summer!