• Lötschberg Base Tunnel to be Completed - Switzerland

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by lpetrich
 
Lötschberg plans full rail baseline finish

The Bern–Lötschberg–Simplon railroad company, BLS AG, now plans to complete the west bore of the Lötschberg Base Tunnel. It is only partially done, and the tunnel is operated as a single-track line in the east bore, thus being a major bottleneck. Approvals should be done in mid-2020, contracting should start in 2021, construction should start in 2021-22, and it should be done by the end of 2028.

From north to south, the state of completion is:
  • Wengi-Ey
  • West bore unfinished (Engstlige tunnel) - 4 km
  • Frutigen
  • West bore not tunneled - 7 km
  • Mitholz crossover unfinished
  • West bore unfinished - 14 km
  • Ferden crossover
  • West bore in service - 14 km
  • Raron
The undone bit of the west bore will likely be tunneled by drill-and-blast.

The project's cost will be nearly USD 1 billion. Scaling from Switzerland's population of 8.27 million to the US's population of 327.2 million (2018 numbers) gives about USD 40 billion.
  by kato
 
No direct contribution from either. The construction is paid from a public fonds for large railway projects in Switzerland of which 55% is financed by truck tolls though.

The project is part of the EU Rhine-Alpine transport corridor, a pretty minor one at that; overall cost for rail infrastructure in the corridor is 75 billion Euro (83 billion USD), distributed about 48.3% Switzerland, 27.1% Germany, 19.2% Italy, 2.8% Belgium and 2.6% Netherlands. Another 25 billion will be invested in roads, ports, airports and waterways, though not much of that in Switzerland. Largest single project within the corridor was the Gotthard base tunnel at 12.5 billion, though there's about half a dozen other projects in the 4-7 billion range.

The main benefit of the tunnels is that Switzerland doesn't drown in trucks. Literally. And the tunnels are the vehicle to achieve that. They're currently at 900,000 trucks per year transiting (lowest level since the early 90s) and a rail modal share of 72% for freight for that.

Target is to cut it to 650,000, which they were technically by law supposed to reach last year. The Lötschberg "extension" (second tunnel) is part of a number of projects to get to that target number.
  by ExCon90
 
David Benton wrote: Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:58 pm Are Germany and Italy not chipping in ? The main benefit of the Tunnels is to them, I think. I.E , traffic that passes through Switzerland.
When the St.-Gotthard highway tunnel was built the saying in Switzerland was "the Italians built it, the Swiss paid for it, and the Germans use it."
  by spRocket
 
Do SBB and BLS operate roll-on/roll-off trains carrying trucks? I've seen such trains on cab footage from Austria, but I don't know if this is something done elsewhere in Europe. The truckers ride along in a passenger car at the head of the train.
  by Benny
 
David Benton wrote: Wed Jul 24, 2019 2:30 am Probably better than having the Italians driving on it, sorry Benny!.
:-D :-D :-D

To Sprocket. Yes, in Switzerland the main north-south lines are served by lorry (and private cars) carrying trains.

Ciao :wink:
  by kato
 
The "rolling road" between Freiburg in South Germany and Novara near Milan is operated by RAlpin, a joint venture of the three major Swiss rail freight companies BLS, SBB Cargo and Hupac. They do a schedule with up to 60 trains per week and direction, all running through Lötschberg. Last couple years they've been filling 80% of their slots.

A minor second route originally operated by Hupac from Basel to Lugano with about 8 trains per day through Gotthard was cancelled without replacement last year. RAlpin is working on doubling their operations by running the same amount as through Lötschberg through Gotthard from 2020.

Longterm RAlpin and RCG (operating the line through the Brenner in Austria) are planning to switch to the same rolling stock. Passenger cars for the drivers are currently being switched to ex-ÖBB sleeper cars being rebuilt with double cabins.
  by ExCon90
 
The Ceneri





The Ceneri Base Tunnel cited in the link is on the Gotthard route, not the Loetschberg; it's farther south than the recently opened Gotthard Base Tunnel but on the same line. Incidentally, the CNN piece errs in saying the tunnel establishes a through rail route between Rotterdam and Genoa. The route has existed for decades; the new tunnel simply straightens it and levels it by going through the mountains, not around them.
  by David Benton
 
Another thing i wondered was why the speed limit for passenger trains is only 125 mph ?
I would have thought 150 - 180 mph easily possible, 200 -250 achievable .
Perhaps it is to do with seperation from the freight trains, i remember with the Channel tunnel , the passenger speed was exactly double the freight speed , to take 2 slots per passenger train .
  by lpetrich
 
Titled link: Huge tunnel network creates new railway link through the Alps | CNN Travel

I checked on the construction effort's home page, and I found: Opening of Ceneri Base Tunnel – NRLA completed: AlpTransit Gotthard AG

But I also checked on Ceneri Base Tunnel - Wikipedia and I found:
The tunnel was officially opened on 4 September 2020.[21][22][23][24][25] Final testing will conclude with a rescue test scheduled for October 2020, and routine operations are expected to start in December 2020.[26][27][28] The construction has cost CHF 2.5bn.[29]
  by lpetrich
 
That CNN article mentioned some other Alps tunnels.

Brenner Base Tunnel - Wikipedia - north-south near the west end of Austria beneath the Brenner Pass. It will be 40 km / 28 mi long, longer than the Gotthard Base Tunnel. It should be done in 2028.

Semmering Base Tunnel - Wikipedia - east-west near the east end of Austria beneath the Semmering Pass. It will be 27 km / 17 mi long. It should be done in 2027.

Turin–Lyon high-speed railway - Wikipedia with the Mont d'Ambin Base Tunnel - Wikipedia a.k.a. the Mont Cenis Base Tunnel.
  by kato
 
David Benton wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:27 am Another thing i wondered was why the speed limit for passenger trains is only 125 mph ?
I would have thought 150 - 180 mph easily possible, 200 -250 achievable .
All the new construction tunnels through the Alps are laid out for 249 km/h or 156 mph maximum speed.

Swiss rail regulations currently do not allow for rail tracks above 250 km/h. Since tunnels for speeds above 250 km/h (starting at exactly that mark) require extensive, costly accomodation for wind pressure generated by high speed trains it is unlikely for this to change any time in the near future, especially for any long tunnels.

Also, all tunnels through the Alps are actually primarily freight tunnels - with passenger services seen as a somewhat unwelcome intruder that have to be accomodated in some way.
David Benton wrote: Wed Sep 09, 2020 12:27 am Perhaps it is to do with seperation from the freight trains, i remember with the Channel tunnel , the passenger speed was exactly double the freight speed , to take 2 slots per passenger train .
Same for the Gotthard base tunnel. The Gotthard base tunnel is laid out for 6 train slots per hour. During passenger service operating hours one of these slots is reserved to be used by two passenger trains. Passenger services through the tunnel are limited to these two half-slots and to limited hours (about 12 hours per day) in order to maintain the legally mandated 130 freight train slots per day per direction.

Freight trains in this scheme therefore have to maintain a minimum speed of 100 km/h (62.5 mph), passenger trains are limited to maximum 200 km/h (125 mph).

Furthermore, until the Ceneri Base Tunnel is finished the Gotthard Base Tunnel will be limited to 4 slots per hour.

The Ceneri Base Tunnel has the same 249 km/h limit, although the connection between the two tunnels will for now remain the old one through Bellinzona, limited to maximum 140 km/h. There are plans for a high-speed connection to bridge this gap (with two further tunnels of 7 km and 8 km length), but it's unlikely we'll see construction on this even begun within the next 20 years. Building this part may possibly allow accomodating higher-speed passenger semi-slots along the full length up to the 249 km/h limit.