Semmering base tunnel works (Photo: ÖBB/Ebner)

Photos: ÖBB/Ebner

AUSTRIA: The planned opening of the Semmering base runnel has been postponed to 2030 following an evaluation of geological, structural and technical issues.

The main problem related to the Grassberg fault zone, an extremely complicated structure with different rock layers. The estimated cost has also increased from €3·5bn to €3·9bn.

As of April around 23 km of the 27·3 km long twin-tube tunnel has been bored, and 7 km lined with a concrete inner shell.

At the tunnel’s groundbreaking ceremony in 2012, it had been hoped that it could open for traffic in 2024. Once the Semmeringbahn route modernisation programme is completed, the journey time between Wien and Graz is expected to fall by 40 min to 1 h 50 min.