of World War I, delayed Simplon II until 1921; it was opened in 1922.

The Lötschberg Tunnel, opened in 1913, is a 9-mile (14.6-kilometer) double-track railroad tunnel between Kandersteg and Goppenstein in south-central Switzerland’s Bernese Alps. It is part of the 46-mile (74-kilometer) standard-gauge Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon Railway connecting Spietz and Brig. The branch lines from Thun and Interlaken meet at Spietz, where the main trunk leads to Frutigen and begins a steep mountain section, much like the Gotthardbahn’s, to the Lötschberg Tunnel at Kandersteg. South of the tunnel the line descends from Goppenstein to the Rhone valley, where it reaches Brig and the line to the Simplon Tunnel and Domodossola, Italy. Together, Lötschberg and Simplon completed a through-route from Germany and France to Italy.

In 1987, the Swiss government initiated further investment in its railroad network. The major part of the plan, estimated to cost EUR10 billion (U.S.$8.8 billion), is the largest construction project in Europe. Known as NEAT (for Neue Eisenbahn-Alpen Transversale, i.e., New Alpine Railroad Crossing), it involves the creation of two new 30-foot-diameter (9-meter) twin-tube alpine tunnels, suitable for high-speed trains, through the St. Gotthard and Lötschberg Mountains, respectively. Built at lower altitudes than their predecessors, they will double rail-transit capacity and significantly reduce journey times between northern and southern Europe. The first axis is expected to be in service by 2006.

Further reading

Allen, Cecil John. 1965. Switzerland’s Amazing Railways. London: Nelson.

Marti, Franz, and Walter Trüb. 1971, The Gotthard Railway. London: Allan.

Amsterdam Central Station

The Netherlands

Amsterdam Central Station is in fact geographically central in the city. Although it conformed to the general pattern of many metropolitan railroad stations before and after, it was an architectural and engineering achievement in that it was built on three artificial islands in the River IJ, supported by no fewer than 26,000 timber piles driven into the soft river bottom. That was a feat perhaps remarkable to the rest of the world but quite commonplace to the Dutch, who for centuries had coped with too much water and too little land.

Economic activity in Amsterdam revived with the railroads in the second half of the nineteenth century. New shipyards and docks were built. Extravagant public buildings such as P. J. H. Cuypers’s National Museum (1876–1915) and H. P. Berlage’s famous Stock Exchange (1884–1903) celebrated both the financial boom and awakening nationalism. In 1876 Cuypers and A. L. van Gendt were commissioned to design the Amsterdam Central Station. It was the first time that such work had been trusted to an architect rather than to engineers, a decision taken because the building would hold an important place in the nation’s image. Indeed, the brief jingoistically demanded that it should be in the Oud-Hollandsche (Old Dutch) style.

That qualification presented little difficulty to Cuypers, who had developed a personal historical-revivalist manner based on late Gothic and early Renaissance forms and ideas. His abundantly decorated National Museum was already under construction. Eclectically drawing on a wide variety of styles, it did not readily expose his rationalist architectural philosophy, gleaned from E. E. Viollet-le-Duc’s theories. Cuypers wanted to restore the crafts to a place of honor and insisted on the honest application of traditional materials. He was responsible for the appearance of the station; van Gendt, thoroughly experienced as mechanical engineer for the railroad, would take care of constructional aspects.

Work commenced in 1882. The station was built on the artificial islands in the Open Havenfront of Amsterdam’s original harbor, which had been cut off from the River IJ by the railroad. Special engineering skill was needed to create a solid foundation for the massive building and the rolling loads imposed by trains. As noted, 26,000 timber piles support the structure. The four-story station building, of red brick with stone dressings, is unmistakably Dutch. It is 1,020 feet (312 meters) long and 100 feet (30.6