First Tunnel Boring Machine Starts Driving Towards Sedrun

On Friday, July 6, 2007, in the multifunction station at Faido, the tunnel boring machine in the east tunnel resumed driving. The machine in the west tunnel will start in October 2007. Breakthrough between Sedrun and Faido is expected to take place in 2011.
At a simple ceremony in Faido, the first of the two tunnel boring machines was restarted just after 2 pm. Mechanical driving towards Sedrun is the last major challenge in excavating the Gotthard Base Tunnel, explained Renzo Simoni, CEO of AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd. Along the approximately 14 km distance between Faido and Sedrun that remains to be cut, complex geological formations such as the Piora Zone must be overcome. Based on the results of the exploratory bores conducted in the nineteen-nineties, the tunnel constructors are optimistic and expect the last breakthrough on the Gotthard Base Tunnel to take place in about four years time.
In autumn 2006 - some four years after starting out from Bodio - both tunnel boring machines reached the multifunction station at Faido after a drive of 13.5 km. As part of a total overhaul performed over the last few months, the cutting heads of the machines were enlarged by 60 cm. To take account of the greater depth of rock and consequently greater rock pressure between Faido and Sedrun, the tunnels will be excavated with a diameter of 9.40 metres.
Of the total system of 154 km of tunnels under the Gotthard, more than 104 km or 68 % have already been excavated. Preparatory work for constructing the Ceneri Tunnel has also begun. Two hundred million Swiss francs have already been invested. Work contracts for a total of CHF 600 million have been signed, including the contract for the first tunnel construction lot for the access tunnel at Sigirino.
For operation of the Gotthard Base Tunnel to start on schedule, other factors than the driving advance rate are critical. As an example, Renzo Simoni mentioned the appeal that has been lodged with the Swiss Federal Administrative Tribunal against the award of the railway infrastructure. For the Gotthard Base Tunnel to go into operation as planned at the end of 2017, as well as to avoid additional costs, a legally binding award must be made by autumn 2007.