An important milestone for the continuous four-track east/west axis in Switzerland has been accomplished: The tunnel boring machine has finished the 2600 m long tunnel through the Eppenberg in its carcass state following roughly a year’s construction time. The breakthrough took place in Gretzenbach. As a result, the half of the 855-million-franc project “Olten-Aarau four-track upgrade” has been accomplished.
Around 200 invited guests experienced the successful breakthrough in Gretzenbach in early February. Anna Barbara Remund, vice-director of the Federal Office of Transport (FOT), Philippe Gauderon, the head of SBB Infrastruktur, Stephan Attiger, state councillor of the Canton of Aargau and Roland Fürst, state councillor of the Canton of Solothurn took advantage of the occasion to underline the project’s significance for the strong East/West Axis.
Construction on the “Main Artery”
Like all such projects, which must be tackled while train services continue to operate, the Eppenberg Tunnel represents a complex “operation on the main artery” for the SBB. Around 550 trains per day make the route one of the busiest in Switzerland. The SBB wants to complete the four-track upgrade within a six-year construction period. As things stand SBB reports that the project is on track both in terms of time and costs.
After the breakthrough at the Eppenberg, it will take roughly a year to furnish the tunnel with ultra-modern rails, sleepers and ballast. When the new timetable comes into force in late 2020, the four-track upgraded section is scheduled become operational.