Rhätische Bahn.

SWITZERLAND: Rhätische Bahn is developing proposals for a comprehensive renewal or replacement of the Albula tunnel on the Chur - St Moritz line. Opened in 1903, the 5 865 m tunnel is the highest transalpine bore at 1 800 m above sea level.

A major examination in 2006 found that the tunnel's condition is deteriorating badly, with around 60% of the lining in need of replacement. The bore is too small for current requirements and safety regulations, communications and power cabling is obsolete and the drainage needs renewal.

Following examination of the findings by an external assessor, the railway undertook further planning. On February 12 RhB announced it will develop two alternatives to the detailed project design stage by the end of this year. It will look at a comprehensive renewal, or the construction of a new bore to modern standards.

Indicative costings will enable RhB to open discussions with the canton and the federal government about funding options. As the final choice will also be subject to agreement with the federal transport ministry and the award of planning permission, RhB says that the earliest that construction could start would be the end of 2011.