After 20 months of methodical work, track-laying in the first 40km phase of the Lower Inn Valley railway upgrade and as part of Austria's preparation for its link to the Brenner Base Line railway through the Alpes to Italy, has been completed and ready for commissioning of services on the new line to start before the end of 2011.
ÖBB Division Manager Johann Herdina (in yellow) is joined by company directors and workers to celebrate end of track laying Photo by Gerhard Berger
Some 80% of the new twin-track rail route through the valley runs underground in a medley of different tunnelling techniques including two Herrenknecht slurry TBM drives, compressed air and jet-piled supported open-face tunnel excavations, subaqueous open-cut works within metres of the Inn River, as well as two long drill+blast, and top-heading, bench and invert tunnels through the mountainsides and just a minimum of surface work in between.
With all excavation completed in 2010, up to 350 workers have laboured around the clock over the past 20 months to lay and bolt up 120m long steel rail lengths onto concreted track slab installed through the mostly underground rail alignment.
Table 1. During 20 months of construction, the new 40km rail line required installation of:
841,000 bolts for rail mounting
Noise protection covers 27,000m2
300,000m3 of concrete
23,000m of the mass-spring system
142,000m of rail
13,149 single-slab tracks
71,000m of slab track
1,130km of cable
35,000m of water supply line
995km of optical fiber
Working from both ends of the new railway, the final gap, in the Tiergarten was closed to within millimetres of precision.
Marking the occasion, Johann Herdina, Project Manager for ÖBB, said: "Companies and employees have performed well and we are pleased to complete this important track laying process two weeks ahead of schedule. Despite tons of heavy steel rails, and masses of concrete work, the construction crews worked with mechanical precision. The closing track lengths fitted to the millimeter," he said.
The new railway is one of Europe's most modern lines with a mass-spring system providing an effective shock protection to minimise vibration of the trains on the line. All rails are screwed to the modern 'slab track' system of precast concrete panels. The logistics for handling the 120m long pieces of rail and other supplies was an enormous challenge. Through careful planning, the vast majority of materials, including the entire track and the track ballast, was shipped by rail to construction sites.
Commemorative plaque set with final track length on 15 Dec 2011
Where that was not possible, the carriers used the network of ÖBB-site roads and temporary highway connections. Every day a train of ten wagons and more than 900 tons of total weight, delivered the tonnes of heavy slab tracks from precast concrete plants in the Lower Inn Valley to the work sites without disrupting normal rail traffic schedules.
Commercial ervices on the new railway are set to begin in December 2012 when the Railjet train journey between Innsbruck and Vienna will be shortened by 20 minutes to 4 hours 17 minutes.
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