Harsco Rail Europe (Harsco) will deliver a fleet of specialist vehiclesto be used by the Swiss national rail service SchweizerischeBundesbahn(SBB) for the maintenance of the Gotthard Base Tunnel.
The gigantic dimensions of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the world’s largest railway tunnel, place special requirements on the technology required to maintain it.The vehicles must work precisely and efficiently with a high level of functionality.
Harsco’s mobile sealing gates will enable safe and precise work in the tunnel by separating one tunnel section from the remaining tubes almost completely.
This is a key tunnel maintenance function for several reasons. Firstly, it minimises dangerous air pressure fluctuation in the tubes to the lowest tolerance level. Secondly, it prevents turbulence that can stir up dust or particles.This enhances occupational protection and the ability to carry out precise maintenance work on sensitive parts to which foreign particles can cause damage or dangerous malfunctions.
The sealing gates are set up at the point to be separated and aligned to the exact millimetre by means of laser measurement.
In order to compensate for the structural tolerances that are unavoidable in a huge structure like the Gotthard Base Tunnel and, at the same time, guarantee the maximum level of seal security, adjustment rings are installed in the tunnel wall at four points in the tubes.
The spreading arms connect the sealing gates to the tunnel wall there, enabling the special vehicle to withstand the extremely high forces that influence the approximately 50-square-metre sealing gate as a result of air fluctuation.
Once the work sections have been sealed off, the other wagons and base vehicles display their full range of functions.
In total, Harsco will deliver a fleet of 31 highly specialised and innovative rail vehicles for SBB’s use on the Gotthard Base Tunnel.