Mont Cenis Base Tunnel: Construction Contracts Worth 3 Billion Euros Awarded

In early July 2021, TELT (Tunnel Euralpin Lyon Turin), the Franco-Italian company responsible for the construction and management of the cross-border section of the new Lyon–Turin rail link, has given the go-ahead for the signing of contracts for three construction lots on the French side of the Mont Cenis Base Tunnel. The construction sites, that at the peak of the work will employ five tunnel boring machines, represent an investment of more than 3 billion euros for the excavation of 80% of the base tunnel.

Mont Cenis Base Tunnel: portal on the French side
Credit/Quelle: TELT
Mont Cenis Base Tunnel: portal on the French side
Credit/Quelle: TELT

Lot 1 (22 km of tunnel between Villarodin-Bourget/Modane and Italy) was awarded to a joint venture of Eiffage Génie Civil (group head), Spie Batignolles, Ghella and Cogeis.
Lot 2 (23 km of tunnel between Saint-Martin-la-Porte/La Praz and Modane) was awarded to a joint venture of Vinci Construction Grands Projets (group head), Dodin Campenon Bernard, Vinci Construction France TP Lyon and WeBuild.
Lot 3 (3 km of tunnel between Saint-Julien-Montdenis and Saint-Martin-la-Porte) was awarded to a joint venture of Implenia Suisse (group head), Implenia France, NGE, Itinera and Rizzani de Eccher.

One of the World’s Longest Railway Tunnels
with 57.5 km

The railway tunnel under the Alps between France and Italy will be one of the longest in the world with two tubes, each 57.5 km long. In the coming months, the Italian lot, worth approximately 1 billion euros, will see the excavation of the tunnel that will emerge at Susa (Turin).
By the beginning of July 2021, a total of 30 km of tunnels already had been excavated. This represents more than 18% of the total 162 km planned for this complex project, with two parallel main tunnels, four access adits and 204 cross passages. Environmental controls in the construction site areas are undertaken constantly, with daily measurements of 135 parameters (from water and air quality to the protection of flora and fauna, etc.). 
At the peak of the work, the project will employ approximately 8000 direct and indirect workers.
The Lyon–Turin railway line represents the primary section of the Mediterranean Corridor – the TEN-T European rail network axis linking the Iberian Peninsula to Eastern Europe, to reduce road transport and CO2 emissions. The project is fully in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal.
The railway line allows crossing the Alps at a steady speed (220 km/h for passenger trains and 120 km/h for goods trains). As a consequence, over 1 million lorries will no longer be present on Alpine roads, with significant environmental and economic benefits.

Lot 1

The companies will build the 22 km stretch of tunnel between the existing Villarodin-Bourget/Modane tunnel and Italy. The tunnels will be excavated in approximately 72 months: towards Turin with the use of two tunnel boring machines and towards Lyon with the conventional method. The value of this lot is 1.47 billion euros.

Lot 2

Excavation continues along the 10-km-long section, already completed at Saint-Martin-la-Porte, towards Italy. All 23 km of the twin-tube between Saint-Martin-la-Porte, La Praz and Modane will be excavated. The work will be carried out using three tunnel boring machines, while the more geologically complex sections will be excavated using the conventional method. Approximately 65 months of work are planned for lot 2, which will cost around 1.43 billion euros.

Lot 3

This is the section of tunnel between the French entrance portal at Saint-Julien-Montdenis and Saint-Martin-la-Porte. Excavation in this section will be carried out using the conventional tunnelling method. This lot is worth 228 million euros and will take approximately 70 months to complete.

The Tender Process

The tender process has taken place in the context of the pandemic, which has imposed restrictions on travel, face-to-face meetings and on accessibility to the construction sites. However, the IT equipment available ensured the efficiency and confidentiality required to deal with the complexity of the bids analysed (almost 30,000 documents were received), which between June 2020 and May 2021 were evaluated by a team of 70 people in 138 meetings of negotiations with the candidate companies. 

pdf: Alignment of the Lyon-Turin railway project with the Mont-Cenis tunnel as the centrepiece


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