17 years elapsed from the decision to go-ahead with construction until completion of the Gotthard Base Tunnel. Up to 2,400 people at various times worked for over a decade on the two 57-km-long tunnel tubes. After the final breakthrough it still took another five years until the sections had been fitted out with the necessary railway infrastructure systems.
ContiTech conveyor belts transport rock and rubble
The tunnel boring machine measured 410 m in length, as long as four soccer pitches laid end-to-end. It removed 28.2 million tonnes of excavated rock out of the Saint-Gotthard Massif, most of which was then returned to the mountain in the form of concrete. This is where the ContiTech Conveyor Belt Group was also involved in the project, with its conveyor belts responsible for removing the excavated material.
Belt conveyors offer significant benefits over the use of wheeled or rail vehicles when tunneling: They do not create any exhaust emissions, meaning that no additional ventilation systems have to be installed during the construction work. Tight curve radii can be coped with, during which the belts continue to be able to handle high loads. The conveyor belts can also be reused.
Record hose from ContiTech
Eddelbüttel & Schneider also contributed to the project. The ContiTech company designed and supplied a 1,520-meter water hose for the boring operations to transport the huge volumes of water needed to remove the excavated material from the tunnel.