• Lötschberg Base Tunnel to be Completed - Switzerland

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of Canada and the United States.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of Canada and the United States.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by David Benton
 
Thanks Kato , very interesting. Seems to me the way to increase capacity in the future is to use technology to reduce train spacing/ increase the number of slots per hour.
I'm thinking electronic brake control , and a positive train control system that measures down to the metre or so .
  by kato
 
As a note on this older post btw:
David Benton wrote: Sat Jul 20, 2019 8:58 pm Are Germany and Italy not chipping in ? The main benefit of the Tunnels is to them, I think. I.E , traffic that passes through Switzerland.
Both the Gotthard Base Tunnel and Lötschberg Base Tunnel are a contractual obligation Switzerland agreed to mandated by the 1992 Agreement between the European Economic Community and the Swiss Confederation on the Carriage of Goods by Road and Rail.
That treaty basically established the reciprocal basis of mutual transport access between Switzerland and the European Union, as a step towards allowing Switzerland access to the European Economic Area, and as the price for that established certain investments that Switzerland had to make - mostly those two tunnels and a certain guaranteed amount of trains and goods ("consignments" transited even before that starting in 1994.

To be fair this treaty was rushed through negotiations and signed only two weeks (!) after the Swiss in a referendum rejected joining the European Union - the Swiss government was kinda in a hurry after that to at least get economic access. It is rather ... favourable to the EU, altogether, especially since where it mandates similar future infrastructure investments on the EU side those are far more vague in language ("shall increase capacity on route..." and similar).

Competing projects such as the Brenner Base Tunnel or the TELT Turin - Lyon tunnel which only run on EU territory are 40% cofinanced by the EU.
  by kato
 
David Benton wrote: Fri Sep 11, 2020 6:35 pm Thanks Kato , very interesting. Seems to me the way to increase capacity in the future is to use technology to reduce train spacing/ increase the number of slots per hour.
I'm thinking electronic brake control , and a positive train control system that measures down to the metre or so .
The minimum train spacing already is 3 minutes distance between trains in rolling blocks using ETCS Level 2.

The problem is the overlapping of speed vectors, the last concept apparently assigned alternating 200 km/h and 160 km/h passenger trains at 30-minute frequency with one package of three 100 km/h freight trains and one package of three 120 km/h freight trains between them.

There are some (mostly pro-freight, as well as anti-Gotthard) counterproposals by lobby groups that either:
a) want to banish passenger trains into a single hourly window (of two trains following each other) that by their calculation would allow spacing for up to eight 100 km/h freight trains between them or
b) further propose going to all-identical-low-speed minimal-spacing freight train spacing (with no higher-speed passenger trains) at an estimated up to 17 trains per hour.
  by lpetrich
 
Lötschberg Base Tunnel Upgrade Enters Next Stage | Railway-News - 12 Aug 2020
I can't find anything more recent than that.
The reason the full upgrade is being reviewed once more is because of an eight-month closure that would be necessitated to connect the new tunnel section to the existing single-track section at Mitholz. Major construction works would have to be performed on the existing bore. ...

It will be on the basis of the results presented that the parliament will decide by early 2023 whether to move ahead with the previously approved partial upgrade or whether to go for a full upgrade instead. It is this deliberation that is causing BLS to hold back on issuing its invitation to tender for the primary construction work on the partial upgrade. Instead, starting in 2022, BLS will conduct some preparatory work that are necessary for both upgrade plans.
So it's a rather interesting dilemma.
  by lpetrich
 
BLS is upgrading the Lötschberg Base Tunnel
At the beginning of 2024, BLS got the green light to expand the full length of the tunnel to two tubes. This will finally complete the construction.

...
The Lötschberg Base Tunnel is now on the cusp of full capacity. More and more passenger and freight trains are travelling through the approximately 35 kilometre-long tunnel, but only 14 kilometres of the Base Tunnel currently has twin tracks. A second 14-kilometre tunnel tube has indeed been cut, but it has not yet been equipped for railway operation. A further seven kilometres are still to be cut through, so that trains can travel continuously through the tunnel on two tracks
Raron - south end - 14 km of double track - (Ferden) - 14 km of 2 bore 1 track - (Mitholz) - 7 km of 1 bore - north end - Frutigen

A partial upgrade would make only the middle second double-track, and that would have requires an 8-month complete shutdown. A full upgrade would not require such a shutdown; the existing track can remain in service during all the construction.

Construction is expected to start in 2026.

BLS AG - Wikipedia - BLS = Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon

The Swiss Federal Council opted to fully double the Lötschberg Tunnel | RailFreight.com - 2023 Aug 18 - "The Swiss Federal Council has submitted a proposal to double the entirety of the Lötschberg tunnel, running for 35 kilometres from Raron to Frutigen. Now it is up to the country’s Parliament to approve the decision. If greenlit, construction is expected to start in 2026 and the new infrastructure shall be commissioned by 2035."