A consortium consisting of Austria’s Strabag and Italian contractors Salini Impregilo, Consorzio Co-operative Costruzioni and Collini Lavori have signed a $381m contract to build the Eisack Undercrossing section of the Brenner Base Tunnel.Â
Strabag holds a 39% share in the consortium.Â Â
The undercrossing is located at the southern end of the Base Tunnel near the town of Franzensfeste in the Province of Bozen in South Tyrol, Austria.Â Â
The work comprises the construction of two 4.3km tunnels, as well as two connecting tunnels to the Brenner Railway. There will also be adaptations and improvements to the existing infrastructure, and the environmental restoration of all areas after construction is completed.Â
The Brenner Base Tunnel is a 55km-long link intended to improve the connection between Austria and Italy. It also forms part of the EU’s Berlin to Palermo trans-European network. At present, rail speed between Austria and Italy rarely exceeds 70kmh, owing to the steepness of the existing track.Â Â
Thomas Birtel, the chief executive of Strabag, said: "This is an extremely demanding project from a technical point of view, as it undercrosses the river Eisack, the Brenner motorway, the state highway and the Brenner railway with a very low rock overburden. We look forward to this challenge."Â
Work on the project is scheduled to begin this year with an estimated construction time of eight years. It is world’s second longest rail tunnel project after the 57km Gotthard Base Tunnel, also in the Alps.Â
Earlier this year Strabag and Hochtief won a $418m contract for the Rastatt Tunnel in Germany.