Navigation | Page content | Additional information

Page content

InnoTrans Blog

Brenner Base Tunnel: Construction progress on schedule

April 2020

Tunnel construction site in Mauls (Italy)
Photo: BBT SE

The largest infrastructure project in Europe and at the same time the world‘s longest underground rail link is on schedule: 115 kilometres, or 50 percent of the gigantic project, have been excavated. Around 1900 employees in Austria and Italy are working on the construction progress of the Brenner Base Tunnel.

So far, around 115 kilometres of tunnel have been excavated, including 34 kilometres of railway tunnel, 43 kilometres of exploratory tunnel and 38 kilometres of other tunnel structures such as emergency stations, logistics and access tunnels. At the four construction lots Tulfes-Pfons, Pfons-Brenner, Mauls and Eisack underpass, the weekly advance rate averages around 500 metres – both mechanically and conventionally. Three tunnel boring machines are capableof driving eleven tunnels simultaneously. The number of drives will soon increase even further with the start of the work on the Sillschlucht gorge section near Innsbruck. The Brenner Base Tunnel will connect North and South Europe as the heart of the longest core network corridor that the EU has defined with the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN). Between 40 and 50 percent of this construction project of the century will be co-financed by the EU, since the most important measure is to counteract the constantly increasing traffic volume over the Brenner Pass. Last year, 2.4 million lorries crossed the Alps there, more than the four Swiss and the two French Alpine passes combined recorded in the same period.

Contribution to climate protection

The Brenner base tunnel is scheduled to go into operation in 2028 and will herald a new era of mobility in the Brenner corridor with a significant reduction in travel time of almost 70 percent. In addition, the tunnel is considered to be one of the most important environmental protection projects in Europe, since climate targets cannot be achieved without shifting traffic to rail: One tonne of goods transported by rail generates 21 times less CO2 than transported by road. The construction of the Brenner base tunnel will pay for itself in terms of the emissions it generates after around 18 years of operation – with a project life of around 200 years. The construction is also accompanied by numerous ecological compensation measures.

Special feature: the exploratory tunnel

A special feature of the Brenner base tunnel is its third tunnel tube, the so-called exploratory tunnel. This is primarily used for geological preliminary exploration in order to make driving smoother. Half of the work is carried out by blasting and half by tunnel boring machines. The exploratory tunnel saves time and money: as a service and logistics tunnel during the construction phase and as a maintenance and drainage tunnel during operation.