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Fresh air in the world’s longest rail tunnel

When finalized in 2017, the Gotthard tunnel through the Swiss Alps will be the world’s longest rail tunnel. During the construction work, Emotron AC drives ensure efficient operation of fans and pumps used for ventilation and cooling.

[14 April 2011]

Increased capacity and reduced environmental impact

Switzerland is a major transit country for goods freight between northern and south-eastern Europe. Through traffic is constantly increasing, with an estimated 3,000 heavy vehicles passing the Swiss Alps every day. Limited capacity as well as environmental concerns have resulted in AlpTransit, a federal project to provide a link for heavy freight and high-speed trains. The goal is to shift as much tonnage as possible from road to railway transport.

Gotthard tunnel

Photo: © AlpTransit Gotthard Ltd.

The world’s longest rail tunnel

The Saint Gotthard massif is one of the most important passages. Here a rail tunnel is being constructed 600 metres below the narrow winding tunnel from 1881. With a total of 152 km of tunnels, passages and shafts, it will be the world’s longest railway tunnel. Two single track tubes 57 km long, with a maximum elevation of 550 metres above sea level, will allow up to 300 trains per day, including freight trains weighing up to 4,000 tonnes and passenger trains with speeds of up to 250 km/h.

Emotron drive system Gotthard tunnel

Efficient ventilation and cooling during boring

On 23 March 2011, the 9.5 metre diameter drill-head made its final break-through after several years of boring and 28 million tonnes of excavated rock. During this work several Emotron AC drives controlled fans and pumps for ventilation and cooling on the construction site. The robust IP54 certified metal enclosures make them well suited for the harsh conditions, and dedicated functionality ensures energy-efficient and reliable operation.

New orders for the continued construction work

New orders mean that Emotron AC drives will continue their work under the Swiss Alps. The tunnel is planned to be opened in 2017, and the focus is now on the tunnel lining, infrastructure systems and railway installations. The supplier for ventilation equipment, Korfmann Lufttechnik GmbH, will use Emotron regenerative drives with Active Front End technology to control the 560 kW driving motors. Emotron will also deliver AC drives to Wärmeaustauschtechnik GmbH for their cooling equipment installations. Liquid cooled regenerative drives for up to 250 kW will be used for pump control.