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Fréjus Rail Tunnel: Wikis

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The Fréjus Rail Tunnel (also called Mont Cenis Tunnel) is a rail tunnel of 13.7 km (8.5 mi) length in the European Alps, carrying the Fréjus railway through Mount Cenis and connecting Modane, France and Bardonecchia, Italy. It passes beneath the Pointe du Fréjus (2932 m) and the Col de Fréjus (2542 m).

The Tunnel entrance from the italian side (Bardonecchia)

The initial gallery was 12.8 kilometres long, twice as much as the previously longest tunnel. Drilling started in August 1857 from Bardonecchia and in December 1857 from Modane. On 26 December 1870, French and Italian workers shook hands as both teams met halfway: the galleries were aligned to about 40 cm horizontally and 60 cm vertically. The tunnel opened for traffic on 17 September 1871, thus making it the oldest of the large tunnels through the Alps. The gallery was extended to its present length in 1881 with a new reinforced entrance on the French side.

The construction, directed by Germain Sommeiller, was scheduled to take 25 years, but was completed in only 14 years thanks to technical innovations such as pneumatic drilling machines and electrical ignition of explosive charges. In the final construction years, the use of recently-invented dynamite further accelerated the tunnel's completion. The next two Alpine tunnels were built with similar techniques: the Gotthard Rail Tunnel opened in 1882 and the Simplon Tunnel in 1906.

The Fréjus tunnel remains today as an important link in the connection between Rome and Paris, via Turin and Chambéry. Following the development of car and truck transportation, the Fréjus Road Tunnel was built along the same path from 1974 to 1980. A future high-speed rail tunnel to improve transit capacity between France and Italy is being planned as part of the Lyon Turin Ferroviaire initiative.

Mont Cenis Pass Railway

From 1868 to 1871 the Mont Cenis Pass Railway, a temporary mountain railway line over the Mont Cenis Pass, was used primarily to transport English mail to India as part of the All Red Route. The temporary line was built by Brogdens, Thomas Brassey and others (see John Brogden and Sons), and employed English engine-drivers.

The line used the Fell design of mountain railway with three rails. The railway, opened in June 1868, was 77 kilometres (48 miles) long, with a gauge of 1100 mm and a maximum inclination of 9 per cent. The Estrada de Ferro Cantagalo (Cantagalo railway) from Niterói to Nova Friburgo in Brazil, which opened in 1873, re-used some of the equipment from the Mont Cenis Pass Railway. Brazil's first mountain railway, it was to the same gauge of 1100 mm, and operated until the 1960s.

See also


Coordinates: 45°08′27″N 6°41′20″E / 45.14083°N 6.68889°E / 45.14083; 6.68889

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