Brenner Tunnel start

24 April 2008

Work has started on the exploratory drive for the proposed 56 km Brenner Base Tunnel in The Alps. This stage of the project is expected to cost€ 430 million - 50% of which has come from central EU grants - with completion due in 2009.

The 5 m diameter pilot tunnel will follow the route of the proposed rail link, and will be used to gather geological information. Once work starts on the Brenner Tunnel itself, the pilot tunnel will be used for de- watering and spoil removal.

The Brenner Base Tunnel will provide a rail link between Austria and Italy, and is a key link in Trans European Network (TENs) project No. 1, the Berlin-Verona & Milan-Bologna-Naples-Messina-Palermo high-speed rail link.

The tunnel will be a 56 km long twin tube structure at valley floor level. Construction is expected to run from 2007 to 2013, and the projected cost is € 4,5 billion. It is the Austrian and Italian Governments' responsibility to fund the scheme, although a contribution of € 900 million from central EU funds has also been pledged to the project.

The tunnel is also expected to play a role in the European Commission's strategic aim of transferring passengers and freight from road to rail when crossing the Alps, the so- called ‘modal shift'.

Karel Van Miert, the Commission's European co-ordinator with responsibility for the project said, “Our aim is to put in place the conditions for a competitive rail capability to enable it to meet a higher proportion of transport needs. The Brenner Base Tunnel project forms an integral part of this plan.”

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