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Construction of Perthus Tunnel Starts on Figueras-Perpignan High Speed Link

Construction of Perthus Tunnel Starts on Figueras-Perpignan High Speed LinkMagdalena Alvarez, the Spanish minister of public works, and Dominique Perben, the French minister for transport, launched on 19th July, 2005 the commencement of construction at the Perthus tunnel, the biggest structure on the Figueras-Perpignan high speed link between Spain and France. This section consists of a new high speed dual-track railway, both for passengers and goods, of 44.4 km approximately (19.8 km in Spain and 24.6 km in France). The new line will operate trains travelling at up to 350 kilometres per hour, which will reduce by more than two hours journey times between Barcelona and Toulouse. The most important structure on this line is the Perthus cross-border tunnel, a twin bore of approximately 8.3 km, whereof 970 m on the Spanish territory and the remaining 7,350 m in France. Both tunnels will be connected by 41 safety crosscuts, spaced out every 200 m, and four equipment galleries, spaced out every 1,600 m. There will also be rescue facilities at the north and south tunnel portals with direct access, redundant control equipment, ventilation, fire detection and extinguishing as well as object detection systems on the accesses to the tunnels.The Perthus tunnel will be excavated by two Herrenknecht hard rock double shield TBMs. The first TBM to start, christened 'Tramontana', will bore the east tunnel. The cutterhead diameter is 9,900 mm (8,700 mm inner diameter). The 1,500-ton 140 m-long machine will deliver a total installed power of 8,900 kVA. The installed main drive power is 4,900 kW (14 x 350 kW). The maximum thrust force is 64,000 kN. The tunnel will follow a curve radius of 500 m, and a 2% gradient more or less, under a cover ranging from 10 to 250 m. The TBM will install concrete lining rings, made up of six 1.5 m-long precast segments plus the key segment. The second Herrenknecht machine, which will be named 'Mistral' (from another wind blowing in the area), will begin the parallel west tunnel in the next few weeks. The geology is granite, granodiorite, gneiss, schists, mylonite and diorite. The excavated material will be taken out by means of a conveyor belt designed, built and installed by Marti Technik. The belt installed in each tunnel will measure 8.6 km. The conveyor system will extend the belt automatically as the TBM progresses, thanks to a 500 m belt storage. An outer system including bidirectional belt conveyors, elevated belt conveyors and stackers will process the rock outside the tunnel. The project entails a set of six conveyors, which length totals 17.7 km. The capacity ranges from 1,300 to 2,600 tons per hour and the total installed power is 3.500 kW. Visit www.herrenknecht.com and www.martitechnik.chThe estimated cost of the line amounts to EUR949.1 million, of which EUR301 million for the Perthus tunnel alone. The Figueras-Perpignan line received EUR540 million in public subsidies, including the EU funds which, to date, total EUR78 million. The scheme has been awarded to TP Ferro, the concessionaire of the section, formed by Spain's ACS Dragados and France's Eiffage. The line, due to be commissioned in 2009, will be a milestone in the history of transport. For the first time, two national railway networks that so far had distinct gauges will be connected directly without need to shift trains or change the rolling stock gauge. Click es/21 & fr/16. 31-32/05. Pasqual Maragall, president of Generalitat de Catalunya, Magdalena Alvarez, Spanish minister of public works, and Dominique Perben, French minister for transport, joining hands next to 'Tramontana', the TBM for the east bore of the Perthus tunnel.