BrennerCongress 2013 in Bolzano

Uni.-Prof. Bergmeister, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna/A, opened the 6th BrennerCongress in Bolzano/I on February 21, 2013. He chaired the International Symposium jointly with Univ.-Prof. Purrer, Leopold Franzens University, Innsbruck/A. International experts presented papers on construction, operation and maintenance for road and rail on both days. Topics also included the construction work on the Brenner Base Tunnel (BBT) and its access routes and other ongoing projects. The event attracted in excess of 200 participants and wound up with 2 excursions – to the BBT’s Mauls tunnelling site and to the hydrogen pilot facility in Bolzano South on the A22.

BBT –Core of the European Corridor

Dr. Mussner, the chief administrative officer for Ladin Culture of the autonomous province of Bolzano was followed by Pat Cox, TEN-T coordinator PPI of the European Commission who presented a “political” overview of the BBT – the core of the European corridor from Helsinki to Valetta. The European Commission rated the development of the railway axis from Berlin to Palermo as a priority project (TEN No. 1). The section in the north running to Helsinki/Finland and in the south to Valetta/Malta is to be extended in the new TEN Strategy Plan (2014 – 2020). Cutting through the Alps with the BBT represents the core.

Mauro Fabris, Italy’s special government commissioner for the Brenner route dealt with the southern access route . He emphasised how important the 4 Italian corridors are for the infrastructure of the whole of Italy and Europe.

Prof. Bergmeister reported  together with Mag. Schieri, Brenner Basistunnel BBT SE, on the Ahrens­tal exploratory tunnel. Driving operations commenced in August 2007. By the end of January 2013, no less than 16.5 km of the roughly 60 km long exploratory tunnel had been driven. The 64 km long BBT runs between Tulfes/A and Franzenfeste/I possessing a maximal longitudinal gradient of 6.7 ‰. The exploratory tunnel is produced beneath the 2 main tunnels. It principally serves to investigate the rock in order to develop models, diminish the construction risk and optimise costs and times for construction. During the operational phase the exploratory tunnel serves as a drainage facility, in which monitoring and maintenance operations can be carried out independent of the running tunnels.

The paper presented by Dott. Ing. Zurio, Dott. Geol. Skuk and Dott. Ing. Roccia, Brenner Basistunnel BBT SE, dealt with penetrating the Periadratic Seam. For geologists penetrating this special tectonic zone represents a journey into the past and tunnellers must not underestimate it during the drive on account of possible surprises.

Koralmbahn and Lower Inn Valley Railway

Dipl.-Ing. Katzianer reported together with Mag. Harer, ÖBB Infrastruktur AG, about the KAT2 contract section of the Koralm Tunnel. The Koralmbahn is part of the international Baltic-Adriatic axis from Danzig to Bologna and currently one of Austria’s biggest construction projects. The 32.9 km long Koralm Tunnel, entailing complex construction processes and logistics, represents the core of the Koralmbahn.

In December 2012, the new Lower Inn Valley Railway opened as scheduled between the Radfeld hub and the Baumkirchen junction. Dipl.-Ing. Gradnitzer, ÖBB Infrastruktur AG, examined the project’s milestones between 1996 and 2012. He embarked on a critical analysis of the Lower Inn Valley Railway concentrating on the following aspects:

Chronological context between progress on the Lower inn Valley Railway and the TEN axis a between Munich and Verona.

Approval proceedings and effect on the subsequent operation of the Lower Inn Valley Railway.

Timely application of the constructional measures for the Lower Inn Valley Railway seen from the project management’s viewpoint.

Tunnel Boring ­Machines

Prof. Thewes and Dipl.-Geol. Holl­mann, Ruhr University Bochum, opened the TBM focus with a paper captioned “Driving with Hydro and EPB Shields in Clay Formations – Appraising Clogging Proclivity and Fine Grain Incidence”. In many cases there are negative effects when soft grounds tend to clog and fine grain is released from the cohesive soil structure. Whether a certain clayey soft ground becomes critical depends on the soil properties as well as the hydrogeological and construction operational general conditions. Thanks to an assessment diagram, which plots the possible water content changes during the drive, soils can be evaluated based on changing general conditions and a varying amount of water present.

Dr.-Ing. Bandieri, Toto S.p.A. Costruzioni Generali reported on “Martina”, currently the world’s biggest EPB TBM. The Sparvo Tunnel belongs to the “Variante di Valico” and is part of the 66 km long new motorway between Sasso Marconi and Barberino di Mugello, linking Bologna and Florence. The project is split up into 13 contract sections, of which the Sparvo Tunnel is one of the main ones. The EPB TBM “Martina” (Herrenknecht TBM S-574) has a diameter of 15.615 m. Apart from the large diameter, particular challenges were presented by soft ground and firedamp, which was expected during the excavation. The TBM was dismantled after a 2-year drive (Fig. 8) to excavate the second bore. The breakthrough is scheduled for June 2013 with a number of records being established on the way.

Dipl.-Ing. SIA Teuscher, tce Teuscher Consulting Engineer, wound up the main group of subjects with his lecture on “Nant de Drance Pumped Storage Power Plant – Penetrating a Fault Zone given pressurised Water”. Currently the country’s second largest pumped storage power plant “Nant de Drance” is being built in Switzerland. Work commenced in autumn 2008, The first turbine is scheduled to run in 2017. The clients are the Alpiq AG Electricity Company, the Swiss Federal Railways SBB, the Industrielle Werke Basel and the Valais Electricity Works FMV. Although the fault zone was well predicted, the access tunnel’s route alignment is not actually ideal. Teuscher concluded by saying that in spite of water ingresses of up to 30 l/s and 13 injection umbrellas around the full extent of the tunnel the tricky general conditions were mastered with an open gripper TBM even given up to 30 bar water pressure. The project was accomplished in the shortest possible period.

Other Topics

C. Costa, Brennerautobahn AG, reported on “Life on a Main Transport Artery through the Alps – the Future of Mobility geared to Sustainability”. G. Burger, Mobility Dept. – Autonomous Province of Bolzano, South Tyrol then examined the “Project Metrobus Überetsch-Bolzano and Rittner Cable Railway”. P. Montagner, Dept. of Road Services – Autonomous Province of Bolzano, South Tyrol looked at the “Asphalt Rubber Pilot Project”. Prof. Purrer examined how the “Accomplishment of an Infrastructure Project as a social Process” is to be assessed. Prof. Mailer, University of Innsbruck dealt with the significance of “Transport in the social-economic-ecological Field of Tension”.

Dipl.-Ing. Dr.-techn. Fröch and Dipl.-Ing. Flora, Innsbruck University, examined the “Potentials for Sustainability Evaluations for Tunnelling and Infrastructure Construction”. From their point of view this can only be reproduced and compared by introducing certificates. The value of such certificates is reflected in life cycle considerations, by means of which cost reductions attained in the utilisation phase are envisaged.

Prof. Marte and Georg Ausweger, TU Graz, explained how cuts in terrain in loose slopes could be secured. Dr. Mair, Dr. Strada and Dr. Carrara, Office for Geology – Autonomous Province of Bolzano, South Tyrol, presented a paper on “Safety Management and Assuring the Functionality of pan-European relevant Road Links given hydrogeological Hazards (Paramount Project)”. Prof. Bergmeister, Brenner BBT SE, described the life span of engineering structures and Dr. Lenisa, Dept. for Road Services – Autonomous Province of Bolzano, South Tyrol, appraised the state of an on average 40-year old legacy consisting of 1,758 bridges and 1,087 km of crash barriers along a mountain road network. B. Marinali, Ministry for Infrastructure and Transport, looked at cross-financing and operation.

2014 BrennerCongress

The 7th BrennerCongress will be held in Innsbruck/A from February 19 to 21, 2014. You can send proposals for lecture topics by e-mail to" >.⇥R.H.


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