TUNNEL Euralpin Lyon Turin (Telt), the state-owned company overseeing construction of the Mont Cenis base tunnel that will form part of a high-speed line between Lyon in France and Turin in Italy, has announced that it is ready to tender contracts worth a total of €3bn to equip the new tunnel.

Details of the work required to move from construction to operation were presented at an event at the Train World museum in Brussels on April 20, attended by over 230 representatives from 86 companies.

All tunnelling contracts on the French section of the project have now been awarded, with those covering remaining 20% of work in Italy due be awarded shortly.

The Italian government recently approved €1.27bn in funding for the third lot of construction work, bringing its total contribution to €4.3bn.

The project involves the construction of 65km of new infrastructure between Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in France and Susa in Italy, including the 57.5km tunnel, which Telt says will be the longest twin-bore base tunnel in the world.

Telt has been working for two years to define the functional and technical specifications of the railway equipment and other systems that will be required to fit out the new base tunnel for use by both passenger and freight trains.

There will be 140km of track and catenary, and a control centre at each end of the tunnel monitoring the line around the clock by means of 900 CCTV cameras and sensors installed along the new route. Traction current will be supplied by three independent substations.

There will be five emergency passenger refuges, three located underground, each able to accommodate up to 1200 people and equipped with a ventilation system supplying fresh air.

There will be five ventilation plants drawing in air via tunnels already built to provide site access, as well as four shafts at Avrieux which will enable smoke to be drawn out of the base tunnel at the same time as supplying the refuges with fresh air.

The refuges will be equipped with water mist fire fighting systems, with heat-sensitive cabling enabling the exact location of a fire to be identified and water mist deployed by the control centre to extinguish the blaze.

The twin running tunnels will be connected by a total of 180 cross-passages located every 333m, equipped with 360 evacuation doors, and eight fire-fighting stations with capacity to store enough water to tackle fires for over 10 hours.

Telt plans to deploy two rescue trains and six road-rail vehicles to respond to fires and other incidents.

As it prepares for the operating phase of the project, Telt will be tendering a technical assistance contract. The successful bidder will provide engineering support for the design and supervision of railway systems and other fit-out work on the new line and its two connections to the existing route between Lyon and Turin.

Telt will also appoint a shadow operator to advise it on the staffing structure and staff training, operations management, safety, maintenance, the strategy for offering train paths on the new line to the market, and management of the project’s two stations.

A maintenance contract will also be awarded.

“We are preparing ourselves for our new future role, when we will manage the international section of the Lyon - Turin route for 99 years,” says Telt CEO, Mr Mario Virano.

“With the creation of the Telt railway division, we are developing the skills necessary for this task.”

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