CONSTRUCTION of Austrian Federal Railways’ planned Klagenfurt - Graz high speed line moved a step closer on December 4, when work began on pilot bores for the 32·8 km Koralm tunnel.

New line authority HL-AG has been developing plans for the 130 km Koralmbahn since 1995, and a preferred route was agreed in 2003. The line will leave Graz to the south and turn west through Steiermark province before tunnelling under the Alps to reach Kärnten. With trains running at 200 km/h, journey time between the two cities would be reduced from 3h to around 60min. Total cost of the project is now put at €2·7bn.

Over the past year, a series of test bores has been undertaken to assess the geology along the route of the Koralm tunnel. The next step covers construction of two investigation shafts and related sections of access and running tunnels totalling 11 km.

Subject to the results of the detailed investigation and funding approval, HL-AG expects to start construction of the new line in 2007-08, for opening around 2015.