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The Brenner Base Tunnel (German: Brennerbasistunnel; Italian: Galleria di base del Brennero) is a planned 56-kilometre (35 mi) long railway tunnel through the base of the Brenner massif. It will run from Innsbruck Hauptbahnhof in Austria to Franzensfeste (Fortezza) in Italy, replacing part of the current Brenner railway. The line is part of the Line 1 of Trans-European Transport Networks (TEN-T).

The Brenner Pass, in the Alps at the border between Austria and Italy, is one of the most important traffic connections between northern and southern Europe, and the motorway going over it is infamous for its frequent traffic jams. Also, pollution from this traffic is a major concern and political issue not only in the adjacent Inn valley, but also for European Union politics.

The hope is to relieve this situation by greatly improving the railway connection between North Tyrol and South Tyrol with the new tunnel, which will allow trains to cross the Alps much faster. Currently, speeds in the Brenner region barely exceed 70 km/h (43 mph) due to the steepness of the existing tracks, which cross the pass at a rather high elevation.

The project is funded by Austria and Italy, and a contribution by the European Union. Due to the magnitude of the project (it will be the world's second longest tunnel, after the Gotthard Base Tunnel), the funding promised so far will not suffice for the estimated costs. Austria and Italy are prepared to pay 30% each of the estimated €6 billion construction costs, and negotiations are underway concerning the rest of the funding.[1] A new construction time line with a 2022 finish date was put forth in a memorandum signed by the Austrian and Italian ministers of transport.[2]

It is predicted that 320 freight trains as well as 80 passenger trains will traverse the tunnel daily after its completion. The travel time from Innsbruck to Bolzano will be reduced from 2 hours to 50 minutes.[1]

Contents

Background

Brenner Base Tunnel
Legend
Unknown route-map component "tSTR"
From Innsbruck
Exit tunnel
Brenner Base Tunnel South portal
Junction from right
Brenner railway from Brenner/Brennero
Station on track
Franzensfeste/Fortezza
Junction to left
Brenner railway to Brixen/Bressanone
Enter and exit tunnel
Bridge over water
Eisack bridge
Unknown route-map component "KRZo"
Brenner railway
Enter tunnel
Unknown route-map component "tABZrf"
Exit to Waidbruck/Ponte Gardena
Unknown route-map component "tABZlg"
Connection to Kardaun tunnel
Exit tunnel
Junction from right
Brennerbahn from Bozen/Bolzano
Straight track
Brenner railway to Verona

The passenger and freight traffic across the Alps has increased greatly in recent years and further growth is forecast. About three-quarters of traffic through the Brenner Pass is currently carried by road transport. Local residents have long fought for relief from the associated pollution. The construction of a rail tunnel is considered by its proponents to be necessary for a shift of freight traffic from road to rail.

The railway line from Innsbruck to Bolzano was built between 1860 and 1867. Tight curve radii and gradients of up to 25 per thousand complicate rail operations. However, improvements on the Italian side in recent years to the existing line, which were completed in late 2008 allow the line theoretically to accommodate 240 trains per day. The grades were not significantly improved.

The new Brenner line would have a maximum gradient of 12 per thousand and the gradient in the tunnel would be about seven per thousand. Thus, a locomotive would be capable of hauling more than double the weight. The new line (the base tunnel together with the southern approach from Waidbruck/Ponte Gardena to Franzensfeste/Fortezza) would cut travel time between Innsbruck and Bolzano from about two hours today to less than half that.

Project

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Main tunnel

The 55 km long, twin-tube tunnel begin in the Innsbruck suburb of Wilten and penetrates the Alps at a height of about 840 m above sea level (ASL). It would tunnel at up to 1800 m below the surface to Franzensfeste/Fortezza. Since under the most recent plan the tunnel starts as a twin-tube tunnel, the junction already prepared in the Inntal tunnel on the Innsbruck bypass will not be used, instead a costly diversion with several branches is planned. The volume of rock to be excavated during the construction of the tunnel is estimated at 11.1 million cubic metres, of which approximately 6.8 million will be incurred in Austria, as about 60% of the tunnel will be in Austria. 6 million m³ of the spoil would be used as fill for the approach lines, 2.35 million m³ in the concrete aggregate and 2.75 million m³ would be used for line side embankments and revegetation. The main tunnels would have a circular cross section with a diameter of 9.6 metres.

According to current planning the apex of the tunnel would be at the border at an altitude of about 810 m ASL, although an apex farther south would have been lower. The placing of the apex at the border is set out in the treaty between Austria and Italy. As justification for this choice it is stated that this would allow Austrian water to run in the tunnel to Austria and Italian water to Italy. The Austrian section of the tunnel will have a gradient of 7.4 per thousand and the Italian section will have a gradient of 5 per thousand.

Northern approach

Concrete shell for the New Lower Inn Valley railway

The base tunnel (BBT) has in the north on two approach lines, which must go underground a few kilometres before the junction with the main tunnels, and will also be built as part of the BBT. One route leads from the main Innsbruck station under Bergisel and the other connects the Innsbruck bypass route.

The northern approach from Munich within Germany is the 165 km GrafingRosenheim–Kufstein route. A more direct route between Munich and Innsbruck, for example, via Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Mittenwald and Seefeld was not pursued, though it could be shortened the Munich Innsbruck line to 129 km. In Austria, a new double-track high-speed line is being built to supplement the Lower Inn Valley railway between Wörgl and Baumkirchen. About 32 km of the 40 km line currently being built underground; this section is due to be completed in 2012. Planning is under way on the continuation of this line to the German border at Brannenburg. There is currently no firm commitment to upgrade the two- line railway from Grafing to Brannenburg.

Southern approach

The southern approach for the BBT will be 189 km long and reach from the southern portal of the tunnel in Franzensfeste/Fortezza to Verona. Planning has been completed for some sections. The Italian government has budgeted €6 billion for the construction of the entire southern approach. Critics consider this estimate too optimistic and fear that the project will fail because of high construction costs.

Status

In the summer of 2006 work started on a pilot tunnel that will run along the line of the future tunnel and will be used for removing water and spoil during the major construction phase. Construction of the pilot tunnel between 2006 and 2009 is estimated to cost €430 million and will be 50% EU funded.The Brenner tunnel is the most important link in a series of projects that will create a single track from Berlin in Germany to Palermo in Sicily. On December 2008 Antonio Tajani, the European commissioner for transport, approved funds totalling €1.7 billion to finance 11 railway projects that together should establish two major routes across the continent.[3]

On the 11th of May, 2009, it was confirmed that final go-ahead for the project had now been given. The final design will consist of two tunnels, 55km long, with a centre tunnel used during construction as a guide tunnel used to determine geological conditions, and later for drainage and emergency access. There will be cross over between the tunnels every 333m. ETCS Level 2 will be installed, and running speeds will be 250 km/h for passenger trains and 160 km/h for freight trains. The final estimated cost was put at €6bn at 2006 levels. Work is expected to be completed by December 31st, 2025.[4]

See also

External links

References


Coordinates: 47°3′24″N 11°29′59″E / 47.05667°N 11.49972°E / 47.05667; 11.49972


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