SWISS Federal Railways is to spend SFr626m on a 10-year programme to improve tunnels on its 3 087 km network. Signed off by the board of management in July, the package will see work carried out on 84 tunnels with a total length of 105 km.

Around half the money will be spent on enlarging 35 tunnels for double-deck trains on access routes to the Gotthard base tunnel and on the main lines from Lausanne to Brig, Basel – Biel via Delémont and Moutier, and Zug – Arth-Goldau.

The remaining funds will pay for repairs and renovation work to ensure that the tunnels meet current and future safety standards. Included in the programme is SFr28·5m for the Simplon tunnel, where cross-passages between the two single-track bores will be altered to form rescue areas with emergency facilities. Lighting, signage and other measures will bring safety measures up to the same standard as in the Lötschberg base tunnel.

The programme due for completion in 2016 follows a SFr320m project begun in 2000 to improve 59 tunnels. SBB plans to co-ordinate the work with track maintenance and renewals to minimise disruption to services.