TUNNELLING work has now been completed on 13.5km of the running tunnels of the 57.5km Mont Cenis Base Tunnel. This will form the centrepiece of a new high-speed line between Lyon in France and Turin in Italy.

In order to build 65km of new infrastructure between Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne in France and Susa in Italy, a total of 164km of new tunnels are being excavated. This includes four access shafts and 204 cross-passages between the twin running tunnels.

Tunnel Euralpin Lyon Turin (Telt), owned equally by the French and Italian governments and overseeing construction of the base tunnel, says that a total of 37km has been excavated so far.

At Saint-Julien-Montdenis on the French section, tunnelling from the western portal is progressing on two work fronts using the blasting method. The fourth cross-passage, 585m from the western portal, has been completed.

Work is in progress to complete cross-passage number 26 at Saint-Martin-la-Porte, while tunnelling is also underway to build two cross-passages at La Praz. Ventilation shafts are under construction at Villarodin-Bourget/Modane and Avrieux.

On the Italian side of the project, the UXT joint venture is preparing to start tunnelling work at the Chiomonte worksite. A new junction on the A32 motorway is being built that will enable construction traffic to reach the worksite without using the local road network.

At Salbertrand, work is in progress to clear the site of the future plant that will process material excavated during the construction of the base tunnel.

System contract tendering

Meanwhile, Telt has announced its intention to award three contracts to support its work in preparing the base tunnel for operation. This follows the start of tendering in June 2023 for a €2.93bn contract to supply railway systems and other equipment, including 140km of track and catenary, two control centres and five ventilation plants.

One contract will be to assist Telt in the management and supervision of the systems contract, including project schedules, costs and interfaces.

Under a separate technical assistance contract, the successful bidder will provide Telt with engineering support for the design and supervision of systems work on the base tunnel its two connections to the existing line between Lyon and Turin.

Telt will also appoint a shadow operator or virtual infrastructure manager to advise it on staffing structure and training, operations management, safety, and maintenance. The contractor will help to develop the marketing strategy for train paths and assist with management of the project’s two stations.

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