Alpine Rail Foundations

01 May 2008

Bauer is currently working on the foundation construction for the northerly approach to the Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland. It is installing some 200 fully cased bored piles ranging from 1200 to 1500 mm in diameter for the northern approach. Installing the piles involves drilling through massive boulders measuring up to 40 m3 and with a compressive strength of 160 N/mm2, using purpose-built tools designed and manufactured by Bauer.

A further challenge for the foundation contractor is the anchoring system, which requires 20000 m of anchors to be drilled in rock. All these are fabricated at Bauer's Schrobenhausen factory in Germany and each comprises up to eight strands with lengths of up to 80 m. As well as being built to high tolerances, the anchors have to be handled with extraordinary care during their transport.

The Gotthard Base Tunnel, which at 57 km will be the world's longest rail tunnel, is part of Switzerland's North-South rail transit through the Alps. This enormous project is known as NEAT - Neue Eisenbahn AlpenTransversale (New Alp Rail Transit). While the current Gotthard Tunnel sits at an elevation of 1200 m, the new route is being constructed at an elevation of around 500 m, running under the 3000 m high Aare and Gotthard massifs between Piz Nair and Oberalpstock. The line is expected to be open for traffic in 2014.

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