Work has now actually started on the new 4.27-kilometre Rastatt tunnel in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, which will be a key part of the northern section of the upgraded route between Karlsruhe and Basel, Switzerland.
Preliminary work has been taken up to now, but the first tunnel boring machine has now been launched.
The Rheintalbahn (Rhine Valley Railway) is being upgraded from two tracks to four with the construction of the Karlsruhe-Basel high-speed railway.
Original plans for a 2008 opening have been put back, and the Rastatt tunnel, which will provide the two extra tracks between Ötigheim and Niederbühl under the town of Rastatt, will not be open until 2022.
The 182-kilometre route forms part of the Rotterdam to Genoa corridor and is being upgraded in sections, with the Rastatt tunnel being the heart of section 1. Sections 2-6, from Rastatt to Ofenburg, is already open as is section 9.1 which includes the 9.4-kilometre Katzenberg tunnel and avoids a narrow winding section of the original railway.
However, other sections, including the Offenburg tunnel and the bypass around Freiburg, have not yet been started. It is looking likely that the entire route now won’t be ready until around 2030.
The Rastatt tunnel project also represents the first time that BIM (building information modelling) is being used for a federal ministry of transport and digital infrastructure (BMVI) funded project. It is the largest of four pilot projects around Germany which are being used to assess the advantages of using BIM.