Monday, October 18, 2010

Within minutes through the Alps

Part 1: The project

As of 2015 high-speed trains will race through the Alps. Milelong jams in incredibly long tunnels will belong to the past once the Gotthard Base Tunnel project has been completed.

Image source: Alp Transit Gotthard AG

Preliminary work on the project started in Sedrun in 1996. Since then colossal boring machines have been making their way through the age-old rocks of the Alps.

Image source: Alp Transit Gotthard AG

In the main mountain range of the Alps drilling is done at five locations in three different cantons (Uri, Ticino, Graub√ľnden). The 153 km long tunnel and shaft system will cost approx. 10 billion Swiss francs. The huge project is a challenge for engineers: sliding soft rocks, tunnel boring machine standing in water or enormous pressure forcing down steel girders. A great deal is, of course, required of technology. Actually, conditions can hardly be any harsher: extremely rough environment, much dust caused by blasting, moisture because of mountain water, high vibrations and temperature fluctuations. Sensors and controllers must be able to take a lot.

Image source: Alp Transit Gotthard AG

More information about the project:


Part 2 provides information about the construction of the new rail link from Arth Goldau to the Lugano area and the technology used.

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