Great celebrations for Gotthard TBM arrival Jul 2009
- In mid-June 2009, some six months ahead of schedule, the Herrenknecht Gabi 1 TBM reached its target destination of Amsteg under the Gotthard Massive of the Swiss Alps. Politicians, tunnel workers and 650 invited guests cheered on the machine as it arrived. This final breakthrough by the first machine in the Erstfeld-Amsteg section constitutes the achievement of an important milestone on the project. Moritz Leuenberger, a member of the Swiss Federal Council, congratulated the tunnel constructors on their excellent performance at the last stage target.
Gabi 1 TBM is star of the breakthrough celebrations
- With the new Gotthard Baseline Project, Switzerland is creating a monumental construction project that is breaking new ground in the management of traffic and transportation. After completion, the twin 57km long baseline rail tunnels through the Alps will be the longest in the world and will draw Europe closer together on its North-South axis. This eventuality generated great excitement as on June 16, 2009 at 11:58 am the 9.58m diameter Herrenknecht TBM Gabi 1, broke through the last meters of gneiss in the eastern tube of the base tunnel complex at the target destination Amsteg. The 650 waiting guests, cheered the cutterhead as its steel face, polished clean by the rock and glowing under a flurry of camera flashes, emerged. Shortly before that, Swiss Federal Council Member Moritz Leuenberger, announced the arrival of the machine, describing it as "the last stage goal before achieving the ultimate goal". He thanked the tunnel workers and tunnel constructors of the Gotthard Base Tunnel North Consortium who worked tirelessly day and night on the project. The Federal Councilor also stated that this achievement was a victory of strong will over the skeptics.
- Shortly before that, Swiss Federal Council Member Moritz Leuenberger, announced the arrival of the machine, describing it as "the last stage goal before achieving the ultimate goal". He thanked the tunnel workers and tunnel constructors of the Gotthard Base Tunnel North Consortium who worked tirelessly day and night on the project. The Federal Councillor also stated that this achievement was a victory of strong will over the skeptics.
- What has been achieved by completing the eastern tunnel of the Erstfeld-Amsteg section - the last section on the north side - is extremely impressive. In only 18 months, the hard rock gripper machine had completed a drive of 7.2km, six months earlier than planned and with the utmost precision. Deviation at breakthrough was only off target by 4mm horizontally and 8mm vertically. The average advance, through very hard rock and mountain overburdens of up to 1,000m, was about 14m/day. The best performance achieved in a single day was almost 40m of excavated and supported tunnel.
Northern section breakthrough at Amsteg from Erstfeld portal
Sprinter in the mountain rock
Gabi 1, the Herrenknecht Gripper TBM S-229, had already proven to be a sprinter during its first operation on the Amsteg Lot in the direction of Sedrun. After being put into operation in May 2003 and taking up high-performance tunnelling in October 2003, this TBM completed a stretch of 11.3km from north to south in June 2006 some nine months ahead of program. After its breakthrough, the TBM was disassembled below ground, brought out of the tunnel using the supply trains, subjected to a comprehensive overhaul, and reassembled at the north portal in Erstfeld. From there, on December 4, 2007, the day of their patron, Saint Barbara, the tunnel workers started their mechanized tunnelling work towards Amsteg, the last stage target. The breakthrough on June 16, 2009 caused a great deal of excitement and celebrations.
- In the parallel drive, the Herrenknecht TBM Gabi 2 is still on its way. By the middle of June, the sister machine, with a cutterhead power of 5,000hp, had completed 5,908m or some 83% of this section. The western tube is expected to be completed in Autumn this year (2009). All in all, what has already been achieved in the Gotthard means that Switzerland is coming ever closer to its grand and historical goal in traffic management.
A victory for Europe
At the celebrations in Amsteg, Moritz Leuenberger, Swiss Federal Councillor for Transport, described the construction project as "the first Wonder of the World in Switzerland and the longest Wonder in the World." He said that completion of the tunnel was a victory for Europe. It would provide Europe with a high-performance rail corridor through the middle of the Alps, making it possible to transport goods from Rotterdam to Genoa in an environmentally friendly way. Leuenberger called on his "friends in Europe" to follow Switzerland's example. Without shifting part of the traffic from road to rail, people would be miserably stuck in the permanent traffic jams caused by 60-ton freight traffic trucks.
- The construction work on the Gotthard axis is well underway according to AlpTransit Gotthard AG. Of the total 153.5km of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, some 133.9km or about 87.3% has been excavated. Two other Herrenknecht TBMs working in the southern section between Faido and Sedrun are moving forward at a good rate after successfully overcoming the Piora Basin in October 2008 and February 2009 respectively. About 6,644m (61%) in the eastern tube, and 6,048m (53%) in the western tube has been excavated. According to the schedule, workers will celebrate the main breakthrough of those drives at the beginning of 2011.
- Commercial rail traffic is expected to be using the Gotthard Base Tunnel route by the end of 2017.
Gotthard TBM safely across the Piora Mulda - TunnelTalk, Nov 2008