Digging deep: Vinci JV to bore shafts for 57km Lyon-Turin rail tunnel

A Vinci-led consortium has won a €220m contract to excavate four 500-metre-deep ventilation shafts, plus galleries and seven caverns, for the 57.5km-long base tunnel of the planned €9.6bn Lyon-Turin railway under the Alps.

The preparatory works package, named 5A, will take place at Modane, near the midpoint of the tunnel that will connect stations in Saint Jean de Maurienne (France) and Susa (Italy).

The excavations will create a logistics hub 500m below ground ahead of the drilling of 18km of tunnel under the Ambin Massif in the direction of Italy.

The owner, TELT (Tunnel Euralpin Lyon Turin) awarded the contract to a consortium led by Vinci Construction (65%), Webuild (33%) and Bergteamet (2%).

The shafts at Avrieux will be constructed using raise-boring machines, which are mechanical excavators working up from the bottom, a technique Vinci said "optimises work safety, costs and time".

The work also involves digging galleries and seven caverns, using conventional explosives at the foot of the existing Villarodin Bourget-Modane decline, which is up to 22 metres high and 23 metres wide.

The project will employ up to 250 people over the coming 36 months.

Scheduled to start operating in 2030, the Lyon-Turin line is intended to shift long-distance freight from Alpine roads to rail.

Developers say it will replace a million heavy-vehicle journeys and lower greenhouse gas emissions by about 3 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year.

Image: The excavations will create a logistics hub 500m below ground (Vinci)

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