Consortium led by Strabag Wins Huge Brenner Base Tunnel Contract

A consortium led by Strabag has won the largest contract so far awarded for work on the Brenner Base Tunnel. The contract is worth €380 million, and Strabag will get a 51% share of this total. The company will work alongside Salini Impregilo, who will take the other 49% share.
The Brenner Base Tunnel is a project worth €8.6 billion in total, and is expected to be completed by 2025. Upon completion, it will be the longest underground railway tunnel in the world, connecting with the Innsbruck bypass to reach a total length of approximately 40 miles (64km). Excluding the bypass, it will run for just over 34 miles (55km), travelling through the alps between Innsbruck and Fortezza. Upon completion, it will form a central part of the new railway connection between Munich and Verona.
The consortium that has won the most recent contract will be responsible for building a tunnel between Tulfes and Pfons. They will also be tasked with creating part of the exploratory tunnel, two side tunnels connecting to the main tunnel, and a rescue tunnel which will run alongside the Innsbruck bypass. Work on the 23.6 miles (38km) of tunnel that the consortium will construct is set to begin in the latter half of the year, and the project is expected to take 55 months in total.
The Brenner Base Tunnel is to be made up of two separate single-track tubes. These will be located 70m apart, and each will have a width of 8.1m. Every third of a kilometre, connecting side tunnels will link the two main tunnels and provide routes for escape and rescue in emergencies. The current Brenner Railway, which has existed for more than 140 years, suffers as a result of steep gradients. The Brenner Base Tunnel will take advantage of its underground positioning to avoid this, and will be dug almost perfectly level.
Where it crosses the Alps, it is hoped that the Brenner Base Tunnel will greatly improve transport connections between the North Tyrol and South Tyrol, and therefore between Northern and Southern Europe. At the moment, one of the most important links between the North and South of the continent is the Brenner Pass, over which a motorway flows. However, the motorway in question suffers from severe congestion and is famous for regularly experiencing traffic jams. There is also concern from many quarters over the pollution generated by the high-traffic motorway. By significantly improving rail links, it is hoped that the Brenner Base Tunnel will provide an easier, more eco-friendly alternative to the existing motorway pass. By diverting much human traffic away from the motorway and onto the railway, it is hoped that the tunnel’s existence will also significantly reduce congestion for those that do choose to travel by road over the pass.
Author: Matthew Scott