31.08.2015 - Work begins on the reconstruction of the Albula Tunnel
The ceremony marking the start of work took place at the northern end of the Rhaetian Railway's Albula Tunnel in Preda on Monday 31st August 2015. After 14 months of intensive preparations, the actual tunnelling work could now begin. This was an important milestone for both the RhB and the companies engaged by it to carry out the work. A small inauguration ceremony was held in the presence of the RhB's board chairman Stefan Engler, the media and representatives and employees of the firms engaged to carry out the reconstruction work.
The event marked the moment in which the physical task of tunnelling into the mountain actually began. A local priest, Father Kurt Benedikt Susak, conducted mass and blessed the site statue of Saint Barbara, the patron saint of miners. Hans Köhler, the head of the tunnel construction department of the main contractor, Porr Suisse, and the RhB's board chairman, Stefan Engler, gave a welcoming address to the tunnel workers present.
Project running to schedule
Comprehensive preparatory work has been carried out since the first turf was cut at the end of June 2014. As a large part of the site work is carried out from the actual railway, special site stations and track accesses have been built at both the northern (Preda) and southern (Spinas) ends of the tunnel. The rubble extracted in the course of tunnelling work is to be processed in Preda from next year for reuse as hardcore in the subsequent concreting and formwork. This will also involve the installation of a concrete mixer, working areas and a gravel preparation plant. A landfill site near Preda, known as Las Piazzettas, has been designated for the burying and landscaping of up to 250,000 cubic metres of material found to be of insufficient quality for this purpose. Work in the existing tunnel involves the upgrading and securing of the unstable natural-stone lining and the expansion of the hollow at metre 1,300 to prepare for the task of drilling through the cellular limestone of the Rauwacke geological fault.
Onsite information in Preda about the reconstruction of the Albula Tunnel
The Infoarena exhibition at the north end of the Albula Tunnel in Preda will document the completion of the new tunnel right up to the year 2021, thereby giving visitors an insight into both this major project and the world of tunnel building in general. It will also deal with issues such as building work within a UNESCO World Heritage site and the measures taken to protect the local flora and fauna. Infoarena is open daily until the end of October. In addition to free, individual visits to Infoarena, there will also be opportunities to take part, until the end of September, in guided tours designed to supply more specific information.