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Balfour Beatty to work on longest rail tunnel in the world

The last major construction contract on the Gotthard base tunnel in Switzerland was awarded yesterday to a consortium which included Balfour Beatty. The Gotthard base tunnel will be the longest railway tunnel in the world and will bypass winding mountain routes to establish a direct route for high-speed passenger and heavy freight traffic.

The contract, worth £790m in total, is for the design, installation and commissioning of rail infrastructure equipment of the railway for the Gotthard Base Tunnel. It involves equipping two single-track tunnels, each with a length of 57 km, as well as contructing 11km of overground lines to the north and south to connect with the existing railway network.

The Transtec Gotthard Consortium comprises Atel Installationstechnik, Alcatel-Lucent Schweiz, TRSS Thales Rail Signalling Solutions, Alpine-Bau and Balfour Beatty Rail.

Work on-site is expected to start at Biasca adjacent to the south portal at the end of 2009, with a construction period of approximately seven years. Commercial rail services are due to start through the tunnels in 2017.

On completion, it is expected that the current 3 hour 40 minute travel time from Zurich to Milan will be reduced by approximately one hour.

Balfour Beatty’s responsibilities for the installation programme include total project management, complex logistics, trackwork, overhead catenary and part of the medium voltage supply lines for the tunnel works and a wide range of other rail control technology.

Balfour Beatty Chief Executive, Ian Tyler, said:
"We are delighted that our consortium has been selected to carry out this major long-term project which will utilise a number of Balfour Beatty’s multi-disciplinary rail skills. We believe that our high-speed, high-performance rail experience is second to none and will continue to prove attractive to rail network owners around the world as rail infrastructure investment accelerates."

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