TunnelSAFE Commissioning at Brenner Base Tunnel Project began at the Austrian construction site on the first three TunnelSAFE Chambers to be used on the project.
The Brenner Base Tunnel (BTT) is the main element of the new Brenner railway from Munich to Verona. At 64 km, it is the longest underground railway connection in the world.
The BBT was planned primarily to relieve freight transport between Austria and Italy. Currently, it relies on roads over the Alps, or it contends with the steep uphill and downhill slopes of the old Brenner railway line, parts of which date back 140 years.
German tunnel boring machine (TBM) manufacturer, Herrenknecht AG, has supplied the TBM that is scheduled to bore a 15km pilot hole at the Arge Tulfes Pfons site. This will later become the service tunnel to adjacent railway line tunnels as the project progresses. Once assembled at Herrenknecht’s facility in Schwanau, the TBM was split into modular sections for easy transportation to the site.
A MineARC TunnelSAFE Gantry Design Refuge Chamber was purchased by Herrenknecht for use not only during the tunnel boring phase but also during the TBM assembly, which is currently taking place several kilometres underground.
Operating concurrently to the tunnel boring phase is the drill and blast section of the BBT project, for which the site purchased two TunnelSAFE Standard Design drill and blast refuge chambers with fly rock protection and 5psi blast rating. The chambers will be positioned close to the working face of the tunnel, where they will be required to withstand multiple blasts per day.
All three TunnelSAFE Chambers feature the unique MineARC Positive Pressure Maintenance System (PPMS), designed to help maintain a safe, breathable atmosphere within the refuge chamber and allowing personnel to pre-prepare the chamber for secure entry. Once initiated via the external activation button, the PPMS disperses measured quantities of compressed, breathable air into the chamber, maintaining a positive pressure at 200 Pa. By ensuring that the pressure inside the refuge is slightly higher than outside, toxic contaminants are prevented from infiltrating the chamber during entry of personnel.