ABB cable protection for the world’s longest and deepest railway tunnel

2016-05-16 - ABB has been at the forefront of technological progress in Switzerland and around the world for the past 125 years – from the efficient production of electrical energy, to the enhancement of industrial productivity, right through to sustainable mobility.

The history of Swiss rail traffic is inextricably linked to the company’s leading-edge technologies – from the historic Gotthard rail network to today’s Gotthard Base Tunnel, set to open in June 2016. This project of the century embodies entrepreneurial spirit, innovation and quality – values that are deeply embedded in ABB. Thanks to our expertise and understanding of the customer’s needs, ABB was able to provide this outstanding project and its complex technical requirements with the specialist cable protection solutions needed to meet the highest quality and safety standards.

ABB’s flexible, easy to install end-to-end PMA cable protection with conduits, clamps and fittings, in exceptional climatic conditions
ABB’s flexible, easy to install end-to-end PMA cable protection with conduits, clamps and fittings, in exceptional climatic conditions
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The Gotthard Base Tunnel consists of two 57-kilometer-long single-track tubes. These are connected every 325 meters by cross passages providing emergency evacuation and maintenance access. The total length of the tunnel system is over 152 km including all cross-passages, access tunnels and shafts. It joins the northern cantons of Switzerland with the southern ones, passing under the Swiss Alps. The 57 kilometers in length make it the world’s longest tunnel. Rock ascends 2,300 meters above the tunnel, making it also the world‘s deepest railway tunnel constructed to date. 

ABB’s end-to-end PMA cable protection solution can stand up to the water and dust in the tunnel, protecting more than 10,000 tunnel emergency guidance lights.
ABB’s end-to-end PMA cable protection solution can stand up to the water and dust in the tunnel, protecting more than 10,000 tunnel emergency guidance lights.
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The 1.7 billion Swiss franc contract awarded to the Transtec Gotthard consortium is among the largest worldwide in this sector. This world-renowned project sets unique technological challenges and as such is an excellent global reference for products to be used in tunnel applications.

A highly demanding project

From control and monitoring systems to lighting and ventilation, building service facilities and water drainage, everything in this project is dependent upon a reliable power supply. Extremely high demands are placed on the 50 Hz power supply system. 

450 emergency exit lighting systems are equipped with ABB’s PMA cable protection solutions, which meet the highest safety standards in the 57-kilometer-long railway tunnel.
450 emergency exit lighting systems are equipped with ABB’s PMA cable protection solutions, which meet the highest safety standards in the 57-kilometer-long railway tunnel.
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Exceptional climatic conditions prevail in such long, deep tunnels. Air temperatures can exceed 40°C while the regular wash-down procedures for cleaning the tunnel contribute to the 70 percent humidity. 

A lot of products currently available on the market are unable to meet the very high safety and reliability requirements under these climatic conditions. That’s why ABB’s PMA Cable Protection was chosen for use in the tunnel.

ABB’s solutions make the grade

The high-grade, specially formulated polyamide plastic used by ABB in the PMA cable protection system offers good impact strength and has outstanding fire safety characteristics and ingress protection against water and dust, which are especially important factors in this tunnel project. 

PMA Conduits and fittings: Excellent fire safety characteristics and IP68 ingress protection against water and dust according to EN60529. All products are free from halogens and have very high impact resistance.
PMA Conduits and fittings: Excellent fire safety characteristics and IP68 ingress protection against water and dust according to EN60529. All products are free from halogens and have very high impact resistance.
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PMA products were tested extensively before they were chosen to protect the 10,000 emergency guidance lights and 450 emergency exit light systems in the tunnel.

One of the project managers at Alpiq, a lead contractor on the tunnel project, stated: “We have been looking for a flexible, easy-to-install, end-to-end cable protection solution that offers comprehensive protection for our electrical installations in these very demanding conditions. PMA delivered a system that meets all of the demanding requirements specified for this project” 

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