Gotthard Base Tunnel: Installation of railway infrastructure systems begins

At the south portal of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, between Bodio and Faido, installation of the railway infrastructure systems has begun in the west tunnel. By 2012, the approximately 16-kilometres-long section will be completely equipped with the railway infrastructure including railway track, catenary, electric power supply, telecommunications, and safety systems. The Gotthard Base Tunnel will be ready for scheduled train services in 2017.

The first section of the tunnel to have the railway infrastructure installed is the Faido-Bodio West section. Test runs at speeds of up to 230 kph will take place in this approximately 16-kilometres-long section from 2013. These will allow the complex interaction of the railway infrastructure systems in the Gotthard Base Tunnel to be extensively tested. The logistical base for installation of the railway infrastructure in this section is the Surface Installations Site South at Biasca, which has been built on an area of 70,000 square metres. A further requirement is construction of the approximately 4.5-kilometres-long section of the Open Section South between the surface installations site and the tunnel portal at Bodio.

Northern installation to start in autumn 2011
Installation of the railway infrastructure systems also from the north portal will begin in 2011. The Erstfeld-Amsteg-Sedrun East section will be the first to receive the railway infrastructure systems. For this purpose the Railway Infrastructure Systems Surface Installations Site North will be built at Rynächt as from autumn 2010.

Rail-based installation
The first installations of railway infrastructure in the Gotthard Base Tunnel are therefore taking place in parallel with completion of the concrete shell in other sections of the tunnel. Installation and commissioning will take a total of eight years. The only effectively available access points for bringing the material into the tunnel are the two portals. „The unprecedented tunnel length of 57 kilometres and the restricted space conditions limit access for tyred vehicles and present a major challenge“, states Oliver Bratschi, Executive Director Railway Engineering for the tunnel owner, AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd. Virtually all transportation therefore takes place by rail from the two main surface installation sites in the north and south. As first railway infrastructure installations, cables will be pulled in and the ballastless trackbed laid.

Coordination of more than 1000 technical interfaces
At peak times, more than 700 people will be involved in installing the railway infrastructure. The complexity is high, detailed coordination of everyone involved is essential. „More than 1000 technical interfaces must be mutually coordinated to make trouble-free rail traffic in the Gotthard Base Tunnel possible, says Rolf Brunner, Chairman of the Construction Committee of Transtec Gotthard.

AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd.
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, the company now employs around 140 people at its headquarters in Lucerne and its branches in ALtd.orf, Sedrun, Faido and Bellinzona. The work contract „Railway Infrastructure Gotthard Base Tunnel“ with a value of CHF 1.7 billion is one of the world’s largest contracts in the field of railway infrastructure and the largest work contract of AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd.

Transtec Gotthard
Transtec Gotthard has been appointed general contractor by AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd.for installation of the railway infrastructure systems in the Gotthard Base Tunnel. The consortium comprises the companies Alpiq InTec AG, Alcatel-Lucent/Thales RSS (as a consortium), Alpine-Bau and Balfour Beatty Rail. As four equal partners, the companies contribute to the consortium their competences in the areas of railtrack, catenary, railway safety, railway and tunnel control systems, telecommunications, electric power supply, logistics, planning and execution.