TBM Serena makes Brenner tunnel breakthrough

By Mike Hayes26 November 2021

Webuild’s tunnel boring machine completes 14km dig in 3.5 years

Italian construction giant Webuild has announced that its tunnel boring machine (TBM) Serena has completed its 14km dig, creating the exploratory tunnel on the Italian side of the Brenner Base Tunnel.

The task took Serena - a double shield TBM built by Herrenknecht - three and a half years and equates to a little over 80% of Webuild’s excavation work on Lot Mules 2-3.

The TBM Serena, built by Herrenknecht

The current project is one of four that Webuild has secured on the tunnel, set to be the world’s longest rail tunnel and a major high-speed connection between Italy and Austria.

The tunnel will run for 64km, between Fortezza in Italy and Innsbruck in Austria, and will reduce travel times by 69%, from 80 to 25 minutes.

The Mules 2-3 represents the largest construction lot on the tunnel project, with up to 900 workers directly involved in the construction and a total of 65km of tunnels excavated by traditional and mechanised methods.

At the breakthrough ceremony, attended by Webuild’s general manager for Global Operations, Claudio Lautizi and director of Domestic Operations, Nicola Meistro, Webuild said, “Today’s event fills us with pride because, with this work on the Brenner, we are contributing to the construction of one of the most challenging sustainable and engineering projects in the world.

“This project is also thanks to Progetto Italia, the industrial operation that had Webuild take over Astaldi, that was undergoing a composition with creditors procedure. This guaranteed the completion of a project that is strategic for all of Europe. It also safeguarded jobs.”

When completed, the Brenner Base Tunnel will form a significant element of the Scandinavian-Mediterranean Corridor of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T), connecting destinations as distant from each other as Helsinki in Finland and La Valletta in Malta.

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