70-year-old electric locos help build new tunnel under the Alps

THE Rhätische Bahn (RhB) metre-gauge network in south-eastern Switzerland is providing locos to help build a new 5.86km-long tunnel.

The RhB is famous around the world because of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Albula Line from Chur to St Moritz.

Six-axle Ge6/6II No. 702 in service since June 19, 1958 arrives at Domat/Ems on August 3 with weekdays-only mixed train R4718, the 07.53 Ilanz-Chur. Behind the two passenger coaches are a postal wagon and multiple vans carrying bottled mineral water. KEITH FENDER

The tunnel lies between Preda and Spinas on the route between Chur and St Moritz and is being built to replace the original single-track tunnel, dating from the line’s opening in 1903.

The new tunnel is costing CHF345 million (£280million) and is being dug using the new Austrian tunnelling method (open excavation with spray concrete to secure the structure) parallel to and around 30metres north-east of the tunnel.

The summit of the line will be in the new tunnel at 1,821m above sea level.

Construction began in 2015, with the new tunnel due to open in late 2021. When it does open the 1903 tunnel will close to trains and then be converted into a safety escape tunnel for the new one; 12 connecting cross passages will connect old and new tunnels.

The tunnel construction site next to Preda station is rail connected with several sidings serving it. RhB is operating works trains to the site from Samedan using pairs of 1947/1953 vintage Ge4/4I series Bo-Bo electric locos.

Read more in the September issue of The RM – on sale now!

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