THE final civil works contract for 57.5km Mont Cenis base tunnel between France and Italy has been awarded by Tunnel Euralpin Lyon Turin (Telt), the state-owned company overseeing construction of the project.

Worth €1bn, the contract has been awarded to a joint venture led by Itinera that also includes Spie Batignolles and Ghella and covers the 12.5km section of the base tunnel from the eastern portal at Susa in Italy to the French border.

Work is expected to take up to seven years and seven months to complete, and will comprise the excavation of a total of 28.5km of tunnels in Italy, employing around 700 people based at the existing La Maddalena worksite in Chiomonte.

A well as the two main running tunnels, work will include the cross-passages between them, as well as the Maddelena 2 access shaft that will be used by maintenance and emergency personnel once construction is completed.

The Italian tunnelling contract also covers underground emergency evacuation facilities at Clarea, where a third tunnel able to accommodate a passenger train up to 400m in length will be built between the running tunnels.

The main running tunnels will be excavated using two bi-mode tunnel boring machines (TBM), able to cut through hard rock and also use the earth pressure balance method in softer ground conditions where sand or gravel are expected be encountered, such as on the 1.5km section under the Cenischia valley.

A total of 2.3 million m3 of material is expected to be excavated during tunnelling, with up to 60% reused on the project. In addition, Telt says that the contract requires the winning bidders to guarantee that they will meet their energy needs from renewable sources.

“Now that all the contracts for excavating the tunnel have been awarded, this central link in the Mediterranean Corridor of the TEN-T network becomes even more tangible,” says Telt chairman, Mr Daniel Bursaux.

“As with the work in France, this contract award will quickly translate into jobs, generating significant opportunities for the region from the construction phase onwards,” says Telt CEO, Mr Maurizio Bufalini.

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