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The Gotthard Base Tunnel, Switzerland

March 22nd, 2007 / / Links: Google Earth, Google Maps, Yahoo! Maps, Virtual Earth / Nearest places

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File for Google Earth with the plan of the tunnel

The Gotthard Base Tunnel (GBT) is a railway tunnel under construction in Switzerland. With a planned length of 57 km (35 miles) and a total of 153.5 km (95 miles) of tunnels, shafts and passages planned, it will be the longest railway tunnel in the world upon completion, ahead of the current record holder, the Seikan Tunnel. The project is designed to feature two separate tunnels containing one track each. The tunnel is part of the Swiss AlpTransit project, also known as New Railway Link through the Alps NRLA which also includes the Lötschberg Base Tunnel between the cantons of Berne and Valais. Like the Lötschberg tunnel, it is intended to bypass winding mountain routes and establish a direct route suitable for high speed rail and heavy freight trains. On completion it is expected to decrease the current 3.5 hours travel time from Zürich to Milan by one hour. The two portals will be near the villages of Erstfeld, Canton Uri and Bodio, Canton Ticino. Completion has been projected for 2015 but due to delays the tunnel may only be completed as late as 2017. Nearby are two more St. Gotthard Tunnels: the 1881 railway tunnel and the 1980 road tunnel.

The route over Gotthard Pass or one of its tunnels is one of the most important passages through the Alps on the north-south axis in Europe. Traffic has increased more than tenfold since 1980 and the existing road and rail tunnels are at their limits. In order for a faster and flatter passage through the Alps, the Swiss voters have decided to build this tunnel cutting through the Gotthard massif at nearly ground level, 600 metres below the existing railway tunnel. On the current track, the Gotthardbahn, only limited freight trains with a maximum weight of 2,000 tons using two or three locomotives are able to pass through the narrow mountain valleys and through spiral tunnels climbing up to the portals of the old tunnel at a height of 1,100 meters above sea level. Once the new tunnel is completed, standard freight trains of up to 4,000 tons will be able to pass this natural barrier as easily as if the Alps did not exist. Because of the ever increasing international truck traffic, the Swiss voted on Feb. 20, 1994 for a shift in transportation policy (Traffic Transfer Act, enacted on Oct. 8, 1999). The goal of both the law (and the goal of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, which is one of the means by which the law will achieve its objective), is to transport trucks, trailers and freight containers from southern Germany to northern Italy and vice versa by train to relieve the already overused roads (intermodal freight transport and so called rolling highway where the entire truck is being transported) and to meet the political requirement of shifting as much tonnage as possible from truck transport to train transport, as required by the Alpine Protection Act of 1994.

Passenger trains, on the other hand, will be able to travel as fast as 250 km/h (155 mph) through the new tunnels, reducing travel times for trans-alpine train trips by 50 minutes--and by one hour once the adjacent Zimmerberg and Ceneri Base Tunnels are completed.

Responsible for the construction is the AlpTransit Gotthard AG, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB-CFF-FSS). In order to decrease the construction time by half, four access tunnels were built so that the construction of the tunnel can start at four (finally five) different sites at the same time (Erstfeld, Amsteg, Sedrun, Faido and Bodio).

It was decided to build a tunnel system with two single-track tunnels. The two rail tunnels are joined approximately every 325 metres by connecting galleries. Trains can change tunnels in the two multifunction stations (MFS) at Sedrun and Faido. These stations will house ventilation equipment and technical infrastructure and will serve as emergency stops and evacuation routes once the tunnel is operational.

The access to the construction site where the multifunction station of Sedrun is being excavated is quite difficult. It is only reachable by a one kilometer long flat access tunnel from the valley floor near Sedrun, where at the end two 800 m long shafts lead straight down to the base tunnel level. There is a local project to extend this multifunction station to an official train stop called Porta Alpina which will connect to the Rhaetian Railway/Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn east-west rail route via local buses to Sedrun and Disentis stations. Preparations are already ongoing but the final decision has not been made yet. Fears are that Porta Alpina would significantly reduce the base tunnel capacity.

  • Length: 56,978 m (western tunnel ) 57,091 m (eastern tunnel)
  • Total length of all tunnels and shafts: 153.4 km

  • Begin of construction: 1993 (sounding drills), 1996 (preparations), 2003 (mechanical excavation)
  • End of construction: 2016 - 2017
  • Commissioning: 2015
  • Total cost: CHF 8,035 billion (US$ 6.428 billion)
  • Trains/day: 200-250
  • Volume of excavated rock: 24 million tons (13.3 million m³ or the equiv. of 5 Gizeh-pyramids)
  • Number of tunnel boring machines (TBM): 4 (2 southbound from Amsteg to Sedrun, 2 northbound from Bodio to Faido and Sedrun, section from Erstfeld to Amsteg will also be built with TBM, maybe the same used for Amsteg-Sedrun)

  • Total length: 440 m (incl. back-up equipment)
  • Total weight: 3,000 tons
  • Horse power: 5 MWatt
  • Max. excav. daily: 25-30 m (in excellent rock conditions)
  • Total excav. length by TBM: about 45 km
  • Manufacturer: Herrenknecht AG, Schwanau, Germany

[Source: Wikipedia]

Send by: Jeronimo

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All of the rock that they are extracting needs to be put somewhere.

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