At the end of April 2016, the enlarged and modernised St. Maurice Tunnel in the Swiss canton of Valais was reopened. For this project, which is part of the modernisation and redesign of the Simplon Line, the tunnel profile was enlarged for the passage of double-decker trains.
The works in the St. Maurice Tunnel had started in autumn 2013. The 490 m long tunnel, which had been built in 1859, was enlarged by about 1.50 m in order to enable double-decker trains to pass. Up to 40 employees worked simultaneously in the tunnel, including working at nights and at weekends, with continued operation on the other track. Thanks to the smooth progress of design and construction works, the final costs are about 40 million Swiss francs instead of the originally budgeted 45 million. After the final completion works to the track geometry, trains have been running on both tracks since the start of May 2016.
Complete Simplon Line ready for Double-decker Trains by the End of 2018
The St. Maurice Tunnel represents an important stage for the modernisation of the Simplon Line. Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) intends to use double-decker trains on the route Lausanne–Brig. Until this aim can be achieved, two further tunnels, the Burier and the Raspille Tunnels, will have to be adapted and twelve bridges will have to be raised. According to plan, the complete Simplon Line should allow the running of double-decker trains by the end of 2018.