The work on the Brenner Base Tunnel, the 64 km long heart of the new Brenner rail line between Munich and Verona, is progressing apace. On March 19, 2015, work began on the main tunnel in Austria. Many high-level representatives of the European Union as well as national and local politicians took part in the official ceremony. EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc acted as “Tunnel Godmother” for the first main tube of the Brenner Base Tunnel. Also present were the Transport Minister of the seven Alpine States, the Presidents of the regions and provinces from Bavaria to Verona.
Excavation work has been under way since September 2014 on the biggest construction lot so far, Tulfes–Pfons. The contract is worth 380 million euros; it was awarded to the JV Strabag/Salini-Impregilo and includes the construction of four tunnel sections. After only three months, the Ahrental access tunnel reached the level of the future main tunnels, thereby creating the logistical preconditions for the excavation of the first kilometres of the main tunnel and the connecting tunnels from the Innsbruck bypass to the main tunnel. The two connecting tunnels (east connecting tunnel 2800 m length, west connecting tunnel 3800 m length) with an excavated cross-section of 110 m² will be excavated by drill and blast. The estimated construction time for this stretch is about 2.5 years.
36 km of Tunnel already driven
In Italy, 3.6 km of main tunnels have already been excavated. A total of 36 km of tunnels have already been driven on both sides of the Brenner. Work is proceeding at speed on the Isarco underpass construction lot, worth 300 million euros. This construction lot covers the southernmost part of the Brenner Base Tunnel and is very close to the railway station in Fortezza. Three more excavations will be launched in coming months in Austria. As of November, a tunnel boring machine will be used for the first time and move from Ahrental towards the Brenner pass, driving a further 15 km stretch of the exploratory tunnel.
Further Invitations to tender
The Mules-Brenner section is about to go into tender; this construction lot includes the exploratory tunnel north of the Periadriatic seam to the Brenner, both main tunnels from the Isarco river underpass to the Brenner and the Campo di Trens emergency stop. In 2016, the main Ahrental-Brenner construction lot in Austria will be tendered; this lot, estimated at 1.8 billion euros, includes the construction of the main tunnels from Ahrental to the Brenner, the stretch of the exploratory tunnel from Steinach am Brenner to the border and the emergency stop at St. Jodok. The longest underground railway connection in the world is scheduled to become operational at the end of 2026.