Lötschberg Summit Tunnel Track Renewal

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dm1

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I stumbled upon this animation/advert about the ongoing track renewal in the Lötschberg Summit Tunnel in Switzerland that I thought might be interesting for users here.

They are replacing ballasted track with slab track, and building a temporary monorail (!) in the tunnel to transport building materials, because the neighbouring track is still in use. Some pretty fancy engineering!


 
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Bald Rick

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What a terrific video.

And what a clever system! Looks horrendously expensive though.
 

HSTEd

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A lot of expenisve looking engineering there!
 

Bald Rick

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How else would you do it and remain open alongside?

At least you won't be doing it again for a lot longer than usual.

You wouldn’t, you would have to work on it whilst it’s closed.

It seems there is bidi working on one (or the other) line for about 4 years.
 

furnessvale

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A lot of expenisve looking engineering there!
Yes, but if the equipment is still usable after this job it can be moved to another where the only additional work will be rock anchors in the roof.
 

HSTEd

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You wouldn’t, you would have to work on it whilst it’s closed.

It seems there is bidi working on one (or the other) line for about 4 years.

Be interesting to know if they would be taking this approach if the Lötschberg Base Tunnel wasn't half finished with a huge single track section in it.
 

Bald Rick

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Yes, but if the equipment is still usable after this job it can be moved to another where the only additional work will be rock anchors in the roof.

... and installing all the fixed equipment, and removing the OLE, and then actually doing the work in a relatively inefficient manner.

Be interesting to know if they would be taking this approach if the Lötschberg Base Tunnel wasn't half finished with a huge single track section in it.

I think they probably would - there’s a well established, and relatively vital (and certainly profitable), car carrying service from Goppenstein to Kandersteg, which they would want to keep running.
 

dm1

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... and installing all the fixed equipment, and removing the OLE, and then actually doing the work in a relatively inefficient manner.
As far as I can tell in the video, the OLE hasn't been removed, just isolated.
 

Bald Rick

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As far as I can tell in the video, the OLE hasn't been removed, just isolated.
I thought that on the track that was being renewed, it had been removed. Otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to use the overhead ‘monorail’

Clearly it wa still up on the open line.
 

MarkyT

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I thought that on the track that was being renewed, it had been removed. Otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to use the overhead ‘monorail’

Clearly it wa still up on the open line.
Those strong overhead tunnel ceiling anchors for the monorail could presumably be reused for a new suspended rail traction conductor system once the trackwork is finished.
 

dm1

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It's a bit difficult to see in the video, but as far as I can tell the anchors are next to the OLE and don't actually disturb it - maybe I'm mistaken.

In that case only the monorail and the anchors need to be removed and the OLE can be turned back on. If there's the space for it, that would probably be the simplest way to do it in any case.
 

hpknow

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A fascinating video as I have been through the Lötchsberg tunnel. The UK equivalent would no doubt be to close the line and tunnel down for the work as does indeed happen when we slab track these. The Swiss as always prove far more ingenious.
 

Bald Rick

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They also have more space in the tunnel than we have in tunnels here... which will make that type of logistics somewhat more possible.
 

furnessvale

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... and installing all the fixed equipment, and removing the OLE, and then actually doing the work in a relatively inefficient manner.



I think they probably would - there’s a well established, and relatively vital (and certainly profitable), car carrying service from Goppenstein to Kandersteg, which they would want to keep running.
Depends how you measure efficiency. If the alternative is a blockade lasting weeks or months this could be the most efficient.
 

Re 4/4

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Not just more efficient, but a lot of Swiss politics is about making sure one region doesn't feel too disadvantaged compared to the others. Shutting the Lötschberg route for a few months would be politically unpalatable.

The reason that there's a single track section in the base tunnel is another political compromise: there wasn't the will to spend the money to build both Gotthard and Lötschberg double tracked all at once, and building one first and then the other one possibly years later wouldn't have gone through parliament.
 

Austriantrain

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Not just more efficient, but a lot of Swiss politics is about making sure one region doesn't feel too disadvantaged compared to the others. Shutting the Lötschberg route for a few months would be politically unpalatable.

The reason that there's a single track section in the base tunnel is another political compromise: there wasn't the will to spend the money to build both Gotthard and Lötschberg double tracked all at once, and building one first and then the other one possibly years later wouldn't have gone through parliament.

Thank you. These two examples actually define Swiss railway politics quite well. It’s not only parliament though, all major rail investments have been passed in a referendum, so another reason why Investment has to be regionally balanced.

It is also a good explanation why the „integrated Takt“ was first rolled out in Switzerland: invest very efficiently (thus no real High Speed Rail) and ensure that the whole country benefits through coordinated timetables.
 
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P Binnersley

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There are two pairs of intermediate crossovers in the tunnel so the single line working can be kept to 1/3 of the total length.
 

MarkyT

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This old route refurbishment work seems essential to take the full traffic on the corridor for a while if the base tunnel requires complete closure as envisaged for around 8 months to implement planned 'partial' as opposed to 'full' completion work, should the Swiss Parliament choose this option by early 2023. The partial option, already planned in some detail, would provide a further 14km of additional track in an already bored tunnel that has yet to be been fully fitted out, leaving just 7km of single track at the northern end where boring has not yet commenced. The unused 14km tunnel is a blind stub, so closure is required is to construct a new junction cavern connecting to the active bore deep under the mountains.

The current 21km single track section is a major challenge for planning and performance, requiring heroic-scale 'flighting' of traffic convoys in alternating directions to handle the 100+ trains a day scheduled. 'Partial' would vastly improve capacity and flexibility, enabling a half-hourly regular interval intercity passenger service and allow the last remaining freight to be removed from the legacy route. 'Full' would improve capacity further, clearly, and enhance real-time flexibility, reliability, maintainability, etc. Most importantly it would avoid any extended complete construction closure of the base tunnel. No doubt there would still be a series of short no traffic commissioning periods for systems changeover.
 
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