- Agreement last week of its billions of Euro in funding marked the official start of Europe's most ambitious infrastructure project. EU Transport Commissioner Siim Callas with the Austrian and Italian transport ministers, Doris Bures and Altero Matteoli, and other officials gathered in Innsbruck, Austria, to celebrate an agreement that secures the estimated €9.7 billion (US$13.8 billion) capital investment for the Brenner Base Tunnel and launches its construction project realisation.
Planned alignment of the North-South link of Europe
- Austria and Italy have agreed to share the cost of the project with additional funding from the European Union. The 55km (34 mile) long mega-tunnelling project through the Alps to link Innsbruck, Austria with Franzensfeste (Fortezza) in Italy is a cornerstone of the EU's Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) Priority Project 1 that proposes a high capacity rail route from Berlin in the north to Palermo on Sicily in the south. The twin tube tunnel will link directly to an existing rail bypass tunnel around Innsbruck to become the world's longest railway tunnel complex. The Innsbruck bypass links further to 66km of new rail capacity through the Lower Inn Valley to the German boarder.
- The majority of the first 40km of the line to Kundl lies underground in lengths of TBM and NATM mined tunnels. As part of the EU's TEN-T Berlin-Palermo Priority Project 1, the Lower Inn Valley project also received EU funding support.
Siim Kallas steering the Brenner Base Tunnel forward - Photo EC
- Preliminary work on the massive tunnel undertaking began at both portals with exploratory headings designed to investigate characteristics and behaviour of rock conditions likely to be encountered to minimise risks and verify budget cost calculations.
- In Austria the Strabag and Porr JV is advancing drill+blast excavation of a 5.6km long exploratory tunnel towards a known fault zone while on the Italian site, SELI, as psrt of a consortium with Pizzarotti, Bilfinger Berger, Alpine Meyreder, Beton-und Monierbau, Jaeger, Collini Impresa Costruzioni, and Societa Italiana per Condotte d'Acqua, completed a 10.5km TBM bored segmentally lined tunnel using a 6.3m Aker Wirth double shield machine. Started in Spring 2008, the TBM battled through fault zones and against water pressures of up to 27 bar to hole through into an underground chamber at the end of a 1.8km long intermediate adit at Mauls (Mules).
- With work now set to progress on the Brenner Base Tunnel in earnest, the BBT, Brenner Basis Tunnel SE, client organisation has had discussions tunnelling teams that have recently completed all deep mountain TBM and drill+blast excavation for the 57km long Gotthard Base Tunnel, in Switzerland. Valuable lessons and the actual experience of this first deep tunnelling project into the Alpine massive can be shared with those who now face an even greater challenge at Brenner.
End of the exploratory tunnel celebrations - Nov 2010
- Currently, the Brenner Base Tunnel client sees the majority of the main running tunnels being completed as TBM operations with a total of about 77km of TBM tunnelling and about 33km of drill+blast work. Three contract packages are presently planned for the main tunnel works with a series of preparatory tunnelling contracts currently in the procurement phase. A call for tenders for the three main tunnel contract packages is planned for 2015.
- While details of the financial packages by Austria and Italy being finalised, the EU has pledged some €768 million to 2014, after which its continuing contribution is yet to be confirmed.
- Confirmation of the start of the Brenner Tunnel construction is a tribute to Karel Van Miert of The Netherlands, the previous European Coordinator for the TEN-T Priority Project 1 who kept all sections of the Berlin-Palermo rail link dream alive and the complex process of reaching Brenner Baseline agreement between Italy and Austria moving forward, before he died in a tragic accident in the summer of 2009. His successor Pat Cox and EU Transport Commissioner Siim Callas take it forward.
Brenner project takes a major leap forward - TunnelTalk, February 2011
Brenner Baseline exploratory bore holed through - TunnelTalk, November 2010
Design considerations on approach to Brenner Baseline connection in Austria - TunnelTalk, February, 2008
Mammoth excavation task for Gotthard Baseline all finished - TunnelTalk, March 2011
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