Ceneri Base Tunnel: More than 30 percent of railway infrastructure systems installed

Work on the Ceneri Base Tunnel is on schedule. In total, more than 30 percent of the railway infrastructure systems have been installed. Currently, in both tubes of the Ceneri Base Tunnel the overhead conductor rails are being installed – an innovation as compared with the Gotthard Base Tunnel.

Following completion of construction work in the Ceneri Base Tunnel, in summer 2017 work began on installing the railway infrastructure systems. At the end of May 2018 in the Ceneri Base Tunnel the last tracks were laid. With the end of track-laying, the first major component of the railway infrastructure systems was complete.

Work is now in progress on installation of the overhead conductor rails and the electrical systems for the power supply, as well as the telecommunication, control and safety systems. In total, more than 30 percent of the railway infrastructure systems have already been installed.

Overhead conductor rails instead of catenaries

An innovative overhead conductor system is being installed. To comply with revised Swiss Federal Railways standards for overhead conductors in tunnels, in both tubes of the Ceneri Base Tunnel overhead conductor rails are being installed. Compared to a conventional overhead wire with catenary, like in the Gotthard Base Tunnel, this system has several advantages:

  • With an overhead conductor rail, tensioning devices for the conductor wire and supporting cable are not required. Consequently, simpler and more compact structures with less structural height are possible.
  • Compared to a catenary, the current-carrying capacity of an overhead rail is greater. Depending on the required current strength, amplification wires are therefore unnecessary.
  • Overhead rails can withstand greater short-circuit currents and are more fire-resistant.
  • Since the permissible wear is greater, the lifetime of the conductor wire that is inlaid in the overhead conductor is increased.

Installation of the railway infrastructure systems will be completed in summer 2019. Starting in March 2020, test operation will take place under the leadership of AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd. In this phase, the complex interaction of all the systems in the Ceneri Base Tunnel will be tested. The subsequent trial operation phase will take place under the overall responsibility of Swiss Federal Railways. According to the construction programme, the Ceneri Base Tunnel will be ready for scheduled train services in December 2020.

AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd is the constructor of the Gotthard axis of the New Rail Link through the Alps with base tunnels through the Gotthard and Ceneri. Established in 1998 as a subsidiary of Swiss Federal Railways (SBB), the company today employs around 120 people at its headquarters in Lucerne and its branches in Altdorf and Bellinzona.