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Old October 2nd, 2012, 08:43 PM   #681
StuZealand
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Great photos thanks Cocco.

I assume that those signs above the tunnel entrance in the first pic (410, 420, 430) denote metres above sea level?

Looking at the monthly excavation progress updates, I would estimate that the tubes will be > 90% excavated before any breakthrough to the north or south occurs.

I look forward to more of your excellant photos in the future.
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Old October 2nd, 2012, 09:18 PM   #682
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Yes the entrance is at around 400 m, but I don't know why they put these signs (I haven't seen such signs on other AlpTransit construction sites).

The official planned breakthrough dates are end 2014 for the northern heading and spring 2016 of the southern one (the length to be bored there is shorter, 6 versus 8 km, but being shallower explosions cannot happen at nights - I heard some people living above the boring face that they heard these explosions even 150 m above them). At this moment the northern heading is around 6 months late, and the southern one 6 months ahead of planned schedule (however I don't know if the dates I gave consider this delay or not).

I will certainly post more photos in the future

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No, that is the entrance tunnel. (I was there too )
You have reason, I should have noticed the three conveyor belts on the ceiling and the road crash barrier on the right
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Old October 15th, 2012, 09:01 AM   #683
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It's been two years today since the first final GBT tunnel breakthrough.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 08:56 PM   #684
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Construction of two others parts of the AlpTransit project are a step nearer. The government has proposed to build before 2030 the second section of the Zimmerberg Base Tunnel (lengthening it from 10 to 20 km) and to build internal lining, tracks and other railway equipment into 15 km of uncompleted tunnel in the Lötschberg Base Tunnel.

The Lötschberg Base Tunnel today is composed of a 35 km eastern tube completed and in service, while of the eastern tube 13 km are in service (on the southern side), 15 km are bored but not completed, and 7 km don't exist at all. There is thus a 22 km section of single track line without any passing loop, that would be reduced to 7 km. The tunnel carries around 110 trains a day, which are sent in batches, but basically southbound (in an average hour, there are 4 southbound and 2 northbound trains). Even with 7 km of single track, the tunnel would be capable to handle the traffic that today use the old Lötschberg line, which is around 400 m above the base tunnel. It had been proposed to finish the tunnel in one time, by also boring the remaining 7 km, but that's unlikely for now.

The Zimmerberg Base Tunnel will instead be double track, and supplement the existing Zimmerberg and Albis summit tunnels (2 and 3.3 km respectively) which are single track, with a station for crossings between them.

As for the Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels, there are no big news in this period. Construction is progressing, the only "notable" news being the decision to double track 2.6 km of the Bellinzona-Luino-Laveno line, an important feeder line for the Gotthard base tunnel which is impossible to double entirely because it runs between mountains and a lake (just imagine a Norwegian fjord, but on a smaller scale and with warmer climate!).
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Old November 30th, 2012, 01:18 AM   #685
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coccodrillo View Post
Construction of two others parts of the AlpTransit project are a step nearer. The government has proposed to build before 2030 the second section of the Zimmerberg Base Tunnel (lengthening it from 10 to 20 km) and to build internal lining, tracks and other railway equipment into 15 km of uncompleted tunnel in the Lötschberg Base Tunnel.

The Lötschberg Base Tunnel today is composed of a 35 km eastern tube completed and in service, while of the eastern tube 13 km are in service (on the southern side), 15 km are bored but not completed, and 7 km don't exist at all. There is thus a 22 km section of single track line without any passing loop, that would be reduced to 7 km. The tunnel carries around 110 trains a day, which are sent in batches, but basically southbound (in an average hour, there are 4 southbound and 2 northbound trains). Even with 7 km of single track, the tunnel would be capable to handle the traffic that today use the old Lötschberg line, which is around 400 m above the base tunnel. It had been proposed to finish the tunnel in one time, by also boring the remaining 7 km, but that's unlikely for now.

The Zimmerberg Base Tunnel will instead be double track, and supplement the existing Zimmerberg and Albis summit tunnels (2 and 3.3 km respectively) which are single track, with a station for crossings between them.

As for the Gotthard and Ceneri base tunnels, there are no big news in this period. Construction is progressing, the only "notable" news being the decision to double track 2.6 km of the Bellinzona-Luino-Laveno line, an important feeder line for the Gotthard base tunnel which is impossible to double entirely because it runs between mountains and a lake (just imagine a Norwegian fjord, but on a smaller scale and with warmer climate!).
That's good news about the Lötschberg; it's a pity that the last 7 km of tunnel boring weren't done while all the equipment was in place at the time. Another 15 km of usable tunnel will certainly be better than the present situation. Do you know if there are any plans to use the unused branch tunnel to Steg?

Another question, is the southern extension to the Ceneri base tunnel going ahead or will the branch structures be left like the northern Gotthard base tunnel branches? Thanks.

Oh, and the Bellinzona-Luino-Laveno line; is there any technical reason why this line couldn't be fully double tracked by tunnelling through part of the mountain to bypass the area that's too narrow to for an additional track?
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Last edited by StuZealand; November 30th, 2012 at 07:43 AM. Reason: Additional thoughts
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Old November 30th, 2012, 08:15 AM   #686
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Quote:
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Oh, and the Bellinzona-Luino-Laveno line; is there any technical reason why this line couldn't be fully double tracked by tunnelling through part of the mountain to bypass the area that's too narrow to for an additional track?
Technical not, but financial...

And even partially double tracking it will increase capacity significantly. Trains in Switzerland run on an interval timetable (even the freights...) so they always meet at the same spots. You only need double track where trains actually have to cross.
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Old November 30th, 2012, 11:10 AM   #687
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Originally Posted by StuZealand View Post
That's good news about the Lötschberg; it's a pity that the last 7 km of tunnel boring weren't done while all the equipment was in place at the time. Another 15 km of usable tunnel will certainly be better than the present situation. Do you know if there are any plans to use the unused branch tunnel to Steg?
The branch will not be opened without the 7 km remaining gap, because qith 7 km of single track there wouldn't be enough capacity (or, better said, the increased capacity with the reduction from 22 to 7 km of single track is better used for transit freight traffic and some more InterCity passenger trains).

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Another question, is the southern extension to the Ceneri base tunnel going ahead or will the branch structures be left like the northern Gotthard base tunnel branches? Thanks.
Alternatives for that extension are being evaluated but they are unlikely to be built before 30 to 50 years. All of them require crossing Lake Lugano, thus an underwater tunnel or a bridge, and are estimated at more than 5 billion CHF (same value in USD). The Ceneri Base Tunnel would then be extended from 15 to more than 40 km.

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Oh, and the Bellinzona-Luino-Laveno line; is there any technical reason why this line couldn't be fully double tracked by tunnelling through part of the mountain to bypass the area that's too narrow to for an additional track?
There are places where there is space for a second track near the existing one, but in many places there isn't, because of the mountain. And where there is space, many houses would have to be destroyed and there would be the problem of the noise generated by trains.

The current project is for a ~20 km single track tunnel north of Luino and for a ~10 km tunnel south of it, plus various connecting tunnels and bridges. These long tunnels would have underground passing loops and the whole infrastructure would likely be operated as two single track lines, not as a double track line (freight trains mainly in the new tunnel line to reduce noise, passenger trains on the old line to serve the towns and villages located here). But nothing is likely to happen before 20 to 30 years.

The 2.6 km that are going to be doubled are on a plain section used for agriculture, that is, where doubling is cheap. But that is enough, with extended passing loops on the existing line, to increase the capacity to 90 trains a day, which is a lot for a single track line (the Lötschberg base tunnel has 110 trains a day, but the single track section is shorter, and used mainly one-way).

I suppose that the southern extension of the Ceneri Base Tunnel and the second Bellinzona-Luino-Laveno line might exclude each other, in other words, if Italy in the future decides to run freight trains more via Luino and west of Milano than via Chiasso (the border station where the extended Ceneri tunnel would end) then this extension might not be built, and vice versa.
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Old November 30th, 2012, 07:19 PM   #688
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coccodrillo View Post
The 2.6 km that are going to be doubled are on a plain section used for agriculture, that is, where doubling is cheap. But that is enough, with extended passing loops on the existing line, to increase the capacity to 90 trains a day, which is a lot for a single track line (the Lötschberg base tunnel has 110 trains a day, but the single track section is shorter, and used mainly one-way).
How does that actually work? Are those freight trains which come back from the North using some other route?
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Old November 30th, 2012, 08:29 PM   #689
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The timetable is based on passenger trains, then freight trains fill up every remaining slot.

On the base tunnel the pattern is a train every 30-30-60 minutes (10.00, 10.30, 11.00, 12.00, 12.30, 13.00, 14.00, ...), so there it is an hourly service with a superposed two-hourly service, but with exceptions.

Usually a southbound passenger train is followed by three freights (but only one when there is the two-hourly InterCity), while a northbound passenger is followed by a single freight.The remaining freight trains, plus car shuttles and regional passenger trains, use the summit line via Kandersteg-Goppenstein. Even with a 7 km single track gap, all freight trains could pass through the base tunnel.

Map: http://www.bueker.net/trainspotting/...witzerland.gif

Graphic timetables: http://www.quadri-orario.ch/it/archivio/orari-grafici/
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Old November 30th, 2012, 11:30 PM   #690
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Details of the long term projects can be seen in this PDF:

http://www.bav.admin.ch/php/modules/...WWpI3N2pWn6A-- (16MB)

Page 121 for projects south of the GBT, page 145 for those in the north. The language of the text depends of the region involved (DE-FR-IT).

Taken from: http://www.bav.admin.ch/aktuell/vern...x.html?lang=it

The Sachplan/plan sectoriel/piano settoriale is used to coordinate any kind of construction, like to avoid planning a railway and an airport, an industrial area or whatever other thing conflicting each other. Nothing is said about costs or technical details (although estimations of them can be found elsewhere).
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Old December 1st, 2012, 01:29 AM   #691
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coccodrillo View Post
The branch will not be opened without the 7 km remaining gap, because with 7 km of single track there wouldn't be enough capacity (or, better said, the increased capacity with the reduction from 22 to 7 km of single track is better used for transit freight traffic and some more InterCity passenger trains).
Ok, that makes sense; even if it's a waste of resources having the Steg tunnel branch built and unused for the forseeable future. Though perhaps if it hadn't been excavated when the LBT was built, it would've never gone ahead at all?


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Alternatives for that extension are being evaluated but they are unlikely to be built before 30 to 50 years. All of them require crossing Lake Lugano, thus an underwater tunnel or a bridge, and are estimated at more than 5 billion CHF (same value in USD). The Ceneri Base Tunnel would then be extended from 15 to more than 40 km.
Holy shit that is pricy; about half the cost of the GBT in today's money. I do appreciate that tunnelling under the lake or bridging it would cost a hell of a lot!

Like any country, Switzerland will never have enough money to do all the civil engineering projects that it would like to do. It's always a matter of what can be afforded and making priorities with the resources available.


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There are places where there is space for a second track near the existing one, but in many places there isn't, because of the mountain. And where there is space, many houses would have to be destroyed and there would be the problem of the noise generated by trains.

The current project is for a ~20 km single track tunnel north of Luino and for a ~10 km tunnel south of it, plus various connecting tunnels and bridges. These long tunnels would have underground passing loops and the whole infrastructure would likely be operated as two single track lines, not as a double track line (freight trains mainly in the new tunnel line to reduce noise, passenger trains on the old line to serve the towns and villages located here). But nothing is likely to happen before 20 to 30 years.
I had a look on Google street view and satellite view, and yes, it is a tight space between the lake and the mountain side for any extra railway lines to be installed.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 12:06 PM   #692
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How does that actually work? Are those freight trains which come back from the North using some other route?
I forgot to explain why most trains through the LBT travel southbound.

By weight, around 2/3 of transalpine rail freight travel southbound, and 1/3 northbound. Then, southbound the maximum uphill grade is just 15‰, while northbound the maximum slope is 27‰ (between Domodossola and Iselle, just before the Simplon tunnel).

To compare, the Gotthard base line will have a maximum grade of 12% on the Luino branch, but 20‰ on the Ceneri-Chiasso branch (not in the Ceneri base tunnel itself, but between its southern portal and the plain near Chiasso). So there will be a flat line between northern Europe and Italy, but only partially single track via Luino.

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Ok, that makes sense; even if it's a waste of resources having the Steg tunnel branch built and unused for the forseeable future. Though perhaps if it hadn't been excavated when the LBT was built, it would've never gone ahead at all?
I suspect that the last phrase is true. However, there are two more reasons to have built this branch now:

1) it hosts high-voltage cables to feed the trains in the tunnel (providing also a road access for now)

2) on the main southern portal there is little space, so a flatter and bigger area near the branch portal was more practical to install a works site for a TBM (another TBM has been assembled for the eastern tube on the very cramped southern portal)

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I had a look on Google street view and satellite view, and yes, it is a tight space between the lake and the mountain side for any extra railway lines to be installed.
Note that the Luino branch was initially (1870s) planned to be the main route to Italy, leaving the Ceneri-Chiasso line a secondary role, but they quickly swapped importance. The Ceenri-Chiasso line was electrified around 1920-1930, while the Luino branch had to wait 1960 or so, and it still is an obsolete traffic management system (but it will be upgraded to modern standards by the opening of the GBT).
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Old December 1st, 2012, 04:30 PM   #693
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Quote:
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I forgot to explain why most trains through the LBT travel southbound.

By weight, around 2/3 of transalpine rail freight travel southbound, and 1/3 northbound. Then, southbound the maximum uphill grade is just 15‰, while northbound the maximum slope is 27‰ (between Domodossola and Iselle, just before the Simplon tunnel).

To compare, the Gotthard base line will have a maximum grade of 12% on the Luino branch, but 20‰ on the Ceneri-Chiasso branch (not in the Ceneri base tunnel itself, but between its southern portal and the plain near Chiasso). So there will be a flat line between northern Europe and Italy, but only partially single track via Luino.
Thanks a lot. Those kind of details are not easily found with just google.
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Old December 1st, 2012, 05:12 PM   #694
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This also means that empty or lightly loaded trains usually run via the old line (and a certain amount of them are northbound), while loaded trains on the base line (like most RoLa / RoRo trains).
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Old December 2nd, 2012, 10:54 PM   #695
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A locomotive with an advertisement for the AlpTransit project has been presented on 15th November in Erstfeld (GBT's northern portal). The engine with three coaches has been pushed out of the western tube by a diesel loco, giving a hint of what will look that spot within 4 years. Around 20 km of tracks have been laid in the eastern tube from the north, 5 km in the western tube from the north, and 15 km in the western tube from the south. Until now, the south-eastern tube has been used to transport construction material using 900 mm gauge trains (slightly less than 3 feet). From now construction material will be transported using standard gauge trains in the western tube, so that track lying can start also in the eastern tube.

The first 4 minutes of this video are nice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFYc017uJPU (while the other 16 minutes are a just a speech of the CEO of AlpTransit and another person)
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Old December 3rd, 2012, 09:21 AM   #696
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Good video, thanks. Pity that I don't speak or understand any German.
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Old December 3rd, 2012, 12:43 PM   #697
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Good video, thanks. Pity that I don't speak or understand any German.
Wouldn't make much of difference: the second speaker, in particular, speaks such as strong Swiss dialect that most Germans would be unable to understand.
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Old December 3rd, 2012, 11:38 PM   #698
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The SBB launched a call for bid for a notable number of maintenance vehicles: 44 of various types, with options to bring the total to 71. These are planned for the GBT and CBT, but I don't know if they will also be used on other sections of the Gotthard railway.

https://www.simap.ch/shabforms/COMMO...ctOverview.jsf
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Old December 4th, 2012, 06:59 AM   #699
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Quote:
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The SBB launched a call for bid for a notable number of maintenance vehicles: 44 of various types, with options to bring the total to 71. These are planned for the GBT and CBT, but I don't know if they will also be used on other sections of the Gotthard railway.

https://www.simap.ch/shabforms/COMMO...ctOverview.jsf
SBB actually plans to replace most of its maintenance fleet by 2018. So one can expect more calls for bids, where SBB has the ambition in the long run to reduce the number of different types they have, so vehicles can be pooled. So it's quite possible these vehicles will see use over a large part of the network.
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Old January 28th, 2013, 01:00 PM   #700
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Progress report?
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