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Record-breaking structure gains speed

Record-breaking structure gains speed

Just for the connection between Fortezza in Italy on the one side and Innsbruck in Austria on the other, the current journey time for passengers will be reduced from 80 minutes to 25 minutes and from 105 minutes to 35 minutes for freight transport.

An European project

The Brenner Pass is not only the most important border crossing between Italy and Austria, but due to ist low altitude of 1,370 metres above sea level, it is also the lowest Alpine crossing which can be used all year round. This makes it one of the most important north-south links in Europe. The tunnel between Italy and Austria is the centrepiece of the new Munich-Verona railway corridor. This 435-kilometre route in the heart of Europe aims above all to increase freight transport capacity, to allow for longer and heavier trains thanks to the lower gradient of the line and to reduce CO2 emissions and noise pollution caused by heavy goods traffic. The new railway line will make it possible to run up to 740-metre long trains. Their length is currently limited to 450 metres. One locomotive will then be able to pull up to 2,000 tonnes of goods, whereas currently two locomotives are required to transport 1,400 tonnes. The Brenner Base Tunnel is an important section of the Scandinavian Mediterranean corridor in the trans-European transport network (TEN-T).

Significant project progress

2023 was a particularly successful year for the Brenner Base Tunnel project. Last year, two of the project's most technically challenging construction sites were completed, the "Eisack undercrossing" and "Hochstegen". In order to be able to leave the Eisack in its original riverbed, the environmentally friendly method of ground freezing was used at the "Eisack undercrossing" construction site in the Italian project area. This technique made it possible to overcome the natural challenges of the construction site, such as the excavation of some tunnel sections under the Eisack. At the same time, flora and fauna could be protected. The "Hochstegen" construction lot in the Austrian project area was also a complex and challenging project. This section is located in the "Hochstegen" fault zone with water-bearing carbonate rock layers. There are currently four active structural shell projects - three in Austria and one in Italy: "H21 Sillschlucht", "H41 Sillschlucht-Pfons", "H53 Pfons-Brenner" and "H61 Mauls 2-3".

Complex requirements

The tender for the engineering services for the railway equipment is currently running parallel to the structural work. Engineering services relate to the planning services for the railway technology equipment. The cross-border project with ist high level of technical complexity represents a major challenge for the planning of these railway engineering systems. It is not only necessary to comply with the already very high technical standards of the Italian and Austrian railway networks, but also – due to the cross-border nature of the Brenner Base Tunnel – with the European standards for interoperability. Once the shell has been completed, the slab track, the traction power supply, the telecommunications and radio systems, the interlocking and train control systems, modern control technology as well as the ventilation and safety equipment will turn the tunnel structure into a pioneering railway infrastructure which can make a significant contribution to a sustainable shift of cross-border passenger and freight traffic from road to rail.