Ida's first 1000 metres: a new milestone at the H41 Sill Gorge-Pfons site

Ida, one of the two large tunnel boring machines moving southwards in Austria, has just completed the first 1,000-metre stretch of excavation. And while the machines drive their way southwards, a specific design choice helps to protect the areas where the project is being built.


The BBT SE project company remains committed to the construction of an important infrastructure for mobility in Europe and, at the same time, to the protection of the natural habitats affected by the project.


Ida, which started work on 27 June, is about to complete the first thousand metres of its journey in the west main tunnel as part of the H41 Sill Gorge-Pfons construction lot in Austria. The TBM, as well as its counterpart Lilia, has already passed the critical fault zone called 'Viggertal' without any major problems. While excavating, the two TBMs also lay the inner ring lining of the tunnel, consisting of six concrete segments with a total weight of approximately 60 tonnes per ring.



The transport of excavated material from the Sill Gorge-Pfons lot: a sustainable choice


As Ida advances southwards, the excavated material must be dealt with and removed. The spoil is currently conveyed via a conveyor belt to the Padastertal valley, where the largest disposal area for excavated material in the entire project area is located. This is a neither simple nor random choice: it avoids thousands of truck journeys and the associated CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. For the same reason, the tubbing rings are produced directly on the construction site itself.


This complex system of conveyor belts, which connects the Sill Gorge-Pfons lot with the Padastertal depot for a total length of more than thirty kilometres, runs on electricity. It does not pollute or visually impact the local population, as it is located entirely underground and inside the exploratory tunnel.


The population living in the project area benefits considerably from this decision by BBT SE. In fact, those who live near the area of the H41 Sill Gorge-Pfons site, and not only, are not impacted by the noise, dust or traffic disturbances that the road transport of the material would have entailed.


In addition to being a sustainable way of handling excavated material, as Ivan Zamberlan, lot controller at the H41 Sill Gorge-Pfons site, explains, it is also efficient. “Thanks to the conveyor belt, excavated material can be disposed of twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. This would not be possible if the transport was by road, given the restrictions on heavy-duty vehicle traffic on the roads". In total, this long belt will transport approximately 4.5 million tonnes of excavated material for Lot H41 Sill Gorge-Pfons, which is about the volume of the Chephren pyramid in Giza.


The construction of the Brenner Base Tunnel continues to be carried out in an efficient and environmentally sustainable manner, with an eye to the well-being of the people living in the project area.