€380 million Brenner Base Tunnel contract awarded

By Helen Wright08 April 2014

A consortium between Italian contractor Salini Impregilo and Austria’s Strabag has been awarded a €380 million contract to build an exploratory tunnel through the Alps.

The 38km Tulfes Pfons tunnel will be constructed ahead of the main bore for the Brenner Base Tunnel (BBT) – a rail tunnel which will connect Tulfes/Innsbruck, Austria, with Fortezza, Italy, when complete.

The Tulfes Pfons Tunnel is being built as a preliminary measure for geological prospecting on the Austrian side of the project, before construction of the main tube starts. Work on Tulfes Pfons is scheduled to begin in the second half of this year and last 55 months. Salini Impregilo’s share of the contract is 49%.

The 64km BBT is planned as the central element of the new Brenner rail line – the centrepiece of the European Union’s TEN-T Priority Project 1. Once complete, the tunnel will be the longest underground rail link in the world.

Two exploratory tunnels are planned for the project. In Italy, the Mules access tunnel and the section of the exploratory tunnel from Aica to Mules have already been completed. At present, the first kilometres of the main BBT tubes are being excavated while exploratory tunnel construction works continue northwards.

In Austria, the access tunnels Ampass and Ahrental, the exploratory tunnel section from Innsbruck to Ahrental, as well as the two logistic tunnels (Padaster and Saxen tunnel) at Steinach am Brenner, have also been completed.

The BBT has been granted up to 50% co-funding by the European Union for studies, planning and construction of the exploratory tunnels. For the construction of the main tubes, the co-funding rate amounts to 30%. The remaining sum is covered by the Italian and Austrian governments in equal parts. The total cost of the project is estimated at €8.6 billion.

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