Work starts on Semmering base tunnel

Work has begun on a €623 million tunnelling contract to construct the main central section of a planned 27.3-kilometre rail tunnel in Austria.

A consortium comprising Swiss firm Implenia and Austrian construction company Swietelsky are to build the 12.9-kilometre central section of the Semmering base tunnel, for which preliminary earthworks started in 2012.

The tunnel will form part of a new southern railway in Austria, which will also connect up a trans-European corridor between the Baltic and Adriatic coastlines.

Implenia said that both tunnel boring machines (TBMs) and mining methods will be used to construct the tunnel, which “involves 26 cross passages, an emergency stop station and two 400-metre ventilation shafts to supply the entire construction site”.

Construction works are expected to continue for the next 10 years. Once complete, the tunnel will reduce the journey time for freight trains travelling between Vienna and Graz by half an hour and remove a major bottleneck on the existing rail line.

Photo: OBB.

Photo: OBB.