The excavation of the first 9 km of the Turin-Lyon base tunnel has ended: the “Federica” boring machine has now broken down the last section of rock and has completed the first phase of the great European infrastructure.
The boring machine that set off from Saint-Martin-la-Porte in summer 2016 has excavated the first part of the south tunnel of the 57.5 km tunnel, arriving in the large cavern at the foot of the La Praz inclined shaft (a tunnel of 2,480 m, completed in 2009), where Federica will be dismantled.
It is an important stage in the history of the Turin-Lyon line, because it constitutes the first section of the tunnel in which passenger and freight trains will pass in the direction of France, as of 2030.
The ceremony for the cutting of the face was held in the presence of Philippe Chantraine, representative of the European Commission’s DG Move, of the new French minister of transport Jean-Baptiste Djebarri, with the participation also of senior national and local institutional representatives of the two countries.
To celebrate the event, the front row was filled with all the skilled workers involved in the construction of the infrastructure: as is traditional in underground work, the workers on board the boring machine from SMLP were first to cross the perforated rock, welcomed by the guests who awaited on the other side. Symbolically, the miners passed the baton to a young colleague who will continue to work on the advancement of the base tunnel. The workers are part of the group of companies that won the tender for the first lot of works (worth about 390 million euros), consisting of Spies Batignolles TPCI, Eiffage TP, Ghella, CMC, Cogeis, Sotrabas and of professionals of the works management entrusted to Egis and Alpina.
Under the flags of Italy, France and the European Union, over 450 workers have brought the work forward, digging 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The workforce is mainly made up of Italians and French, of whom about 200 are workers from the Maurienne itself and about 70% from the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The Turin-Lyon is thus the third-largest employer in the area and, in view of the progress of the construction sites on the French side, over 2,000 direct jobs are planned.
Federica stops after a 3-year journey in which it has made constant progress in the most complex geological section of the mountain, characterised by the presence of coal and water; however, the tunnel was built on time, within budget and without serious problems.
Subsequently, the technology deployed and the extraordinary nature of the work have attracted over 3,000 visitors during the worksite’s period of activity, including institutions, associations, students and citizens, as well as newspapers from all over the world.