Volvo FMX in Construction Segment: Gotthard Rail Tunnel, World's Longest Tunnel - Case Study




01 Jan 2011


Filmpoint Communication AB

Edited package
The world's longest tunnel construction can be found in the south of Switzerland. On some of the stretches a Volvo FMX operates an amazingly tough double shift in this magnificent alpine landscape on roads with gradients of up to 22%.

The world's longest tunnel is also one of the world's biggest construction projects. The building of the gigantic Gotthard rail tunnel of 57 kilometres, started as early as the end of the 1990s. The tunnel will open for rail traffic during 2017. All at a cost of some 8 billion €uro.

The tunnel will become an important link in connecting the rail networks of northern and southern Europe and the major ports in Rotterdam and Genoa.

Some 2,500 people are engaged working on the project and the actual boring of the tunnel through the mountain has moved forward at a speed of up to 25 metres a day. One of the biggest challenges is to remove the 13.3 million cubic metres of crushed rock that is drilled out of the mountain. This corresponds to the combined volume of the 5 Egyptian Cheops pyramids.

Umberto Salvagni who is the supervisor of the 20 kilometre long stretch between Camorino and Vezia can tell us more about how the work is progressing:

Our project involves building a section in loose rock material underneath the motorway, while the motorway is still in operation. We are working about 9 metres below the level of the motorway. At the moment we're using explosives (blasting through the rock). We're blasting through the first 800 metres of the two tubes/tunnels and after the anticipated completion date of the excavation work, we will line our section of the tunnel with concrete. We expect to complete this stage of the work in 2015.

Some of the enormous amount of blasted rock from the tunnel excavation is transported from the tunnel and laid up in terraces – terracing that will eventually form new hills and mountains that will naturally blend into today's alpine landscape.

On the stretch between Camorino and Vezia it's Beffa Transporti, with 32 employees, that is responsible for the transportation of the rock and waste. On this site, the company has utilised all 22 of its Volvo trucks as well as using sub-contractors' trucks. It's also here that the Volvo FMX (6X4)* is able to show its true colours.

Renato Beffa runs his own company, Beffa Transporti:

After a lot of research, we chose Volvo. Volvo has a good structure, a nice frame and an excellent load capacity. The interior, the convenient location of the switches, the gear shift, the new braking system. When you take your foot off the accelerator, it brakes automatically. It's a good system and that's why we chose Volvo.

During a single shift, the FMX transports up to 2,200 tons of crushed stone. With a load of almost 40 tons, it's a question of being able to cope with a gradient of up to 22 % on a muddy surface where rain and snow don't make transport any easier!.

Dani Beffa drives the FMX every day on one of two really tough shifts:

I'm really happy driving the Volvo FMX because the cab is much more comfortable that the one I had before and the visibility is really good. The mirrors have been improved. They were all enclosed before, now you can move them, which makes it easier to see any potential hazards. It's a great truck for this type of site. A good system, a great model.

Renato Beffa has already ordered yet another FMX truck and he's not alone in that in Switzerland. The Volvo FMX already represents more than 15 % of the total truck sales in the country. Even in other parts of the world the FMX has made a powerful breakthrough onto the construction market and in only 10 months they have sold almost 5,000 trucks.
If they told me that I would have to drive another truck tomorrow, that would make me very sad!

Interviews, in order of appearance:

1 Umberto Salvagni
Site manager

2 Renato Beffa
Owner, Beffa Transporti

3 Dani Beffa
Driver, Beffa Transporti
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  • Per Nilsson
    PR & Media relations - Trucks
    +46 (0)765 53 33 49