Two tenders have been launched worth €830 million for the construction of a 55 kilometre railway tunnel between Austria and Italy.
The €8.6 billion Brenner Base Tunnel (BBT) will be the second-longest rail tunnel in the world, behind the Gotthard Base Tunnel, once complete in 2025.
Work is expected to start next summer and should be completed by 2019.
The BBT is at the centre of the 2,200 kilometre Berlin – Palermo railway and once open, will cut the overall journey time by two-and-a-half hours.
The second tender is for the construction of the main tunnels between Oberau and the connection with the existing line at Mittewald – a section described as ‘complex’ because of its location just a few metres below the Eisack river.
The second tender has been valued at €370 million.
BBT SE expects this phase to take between nine and 10 years to complete, with the SS12 highway needing to be moved and bridges built over the Eisack and the Rio Bianco before excavation of the tunnels can begin in 2015.
Planning first started on the BBT in 1989, but early mentions of a need for a new tunnel along the route can be traced back to a joint study by Germany’s Deutsche Bahn (DB), Austria’s Österreichischen Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) and Italy’s Ferrovie dello Stato (FS) published in 1971.