Gotthard base tunnel, Switzerland

Gotthard base tunnel, Switzerland

Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group takes part in the construction of the world's longest railway tunnel

On the occasion of the opening of the 57 km long Gotthard base tunnel, the world's longest railway tunnel, much was reported about the enormous engineering feat and about the excavation of the 152 km of tunnel tubes, caverns and ventilation tunnels.

However, the installation of the entire infrastructure in the tunnel tubes, which is required for the operation of the railway tunnel, is equally as impressive.

Did you know that

  • 140,000 cubic meters of concrete were used for building the slab track, which also involved the installation of 380,000 sleepers and 300 km of rails?
  • A total of 6,000 km of cable has been installed and that the 115 km long overhead contact wire is suspended from 2800 support structures and another 3,200 sprung support structures?
  • A total of 2,500 switch cabinets has been installed in 178 cross galleries and caverns, and much other equipment required for operating the railway – such as ventilation and safety devices, 417 SOS telephone points, signals and various construction site equipment – had to be transported to its location in the tunnel?

Major deployment of personnel and machinery

Since the autumn of 2010, Sersa Group AG (Switzerland) – a company of the Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group – has been making sure that all materials, all construction teams and many visitors were punctually transported into the tunnel and out again.

To achieve this, up to 12 diesel locomotives, a large number of goods and personnel trucks, as well as 36 engine drivers of various categories had to be deployed throughout the construction period, mostly working around the clock.

The specification for this once-in-a-century project had called for particularly low exhaust emission values for all traction engines. For this reason, Sersa has equipped the large, powerful locomotives (Vossloh Am843 with 1500 kW / 2040 hp) not only with diesel particle filters but also with nitrogen oxide filters – a world's first. Another special technical feature was the use of wired remote control with a separate control truck because wireless remote control does not work reliably enough with long trains in the tunnel.

A highly trained specialists at work

In order to ensure the availability of the locomotives and construction trucks (maintenance and repairs), at least two mechanics were available in the workshops at the installation sites in Biasca and Rynächt/Erstfeld throughout the construction period.

Two schedulers and one railway operations manager, who had been made available to the employer, the Transtec Gotthard Consortium, for three years ensured that work proceded safely and largely without incidents.

As the last operating unit in a long chain of organisations, the Sersa schedulers had to carry out last-minute organisational changes almost every day to ensure that the various different trades were able to carry out their work in time. In this process, many operators were driven to the limits of their capabilities. Nevertheless they all managed to complete this enormous challenge to the fullest satisfaction.


Competence in logistics has been documented

After completing all construction-related infrastructure transport duties during the construction of the 34 km long Lötschberg tunnel, Sersa has again documented its extensive competence and capabilities in logistics with the work on the Gotthard base tunnel. The Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group is proud to have made a significant contribution to the successful completion of this once-in-a-century construction project.

Press contact Rhomberg Sersa Rail Group