The Ceneri Base Tunnel (CBT) in Switzerland opened in December 2020. The last section of the New Railway through the Alps (NRLA), serves as a southern feeder to the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the longest railway tunnel in the world. Twenty-eight years after the country chose to support the construction of the NRLA, the entire project is now complete and operating a regular schedule service carrying passenger and freight trains.
The CBT establishes an uninterrupted rail route from the Dutch North Sea port in Rotterdam to the Italian city of Genoa on the Mediterranean. Thus, the 9.5-mile CBT flat rail allows longer and heavier freight trains to deliver goods more quickly by traveling through the Alps, and for passengers to arrive at their destinations much earlier. It consists of two single track tubes, approximately 100 yards apart, connected to each other for a total of 48 cross passes. At its deepest point it is roughly 8,000 feet below the summit of the Alps.
Busbars are used in the Ceneri Ground Tunnel as a replacement for conventional catenary overhead lines to supply power to the locomotive. Due to the lower overall height and because there is no need for grounding components in the overhead contact line crack area, the use of busbars significantly reduces infrastructure costs. Airway specialist Furrer + Frey AG engineers and manufactures a Rigid Overhead Conductor Rail System at CBT that integrates the busbar. The pantograph mounted on the roof of the train passing through the CBT collects power through contact with the Rigid Overhead Conductor Rail System, allowing the train to reach high speeds safely and efficiently.
With the help of a Microtron MotionBLITZ The high-speed recording system, Furrer + Frey, together with AlpTransit Gotthard AG and Swiss Federal Railways, can observe the behavior of the pantograph in the section separator. Featuring a 4 megapixel EoSens® 4CXP high-speed camera, the Microtron system captures even the tiniest of incidents within the pantograph area of the train. Videos are recorded with the camera at a rate of 2,800 frames per second at a horizontal resolution of 2,336 pixels. This provides an excellent basis for assessment and evaluation for trains traveling at an average speed of 124 miles per hour.
Among the insights that the Microtron video system captures about the pantograph include the answers to these critical questions:
In many of the trials captured by the MotionBLITZ Microtron, the Rigid Overhead Conductor Rail System was thoroughly tested. The specially equipped ICE-S high-speed gauge cart was demonstrated to run safely at 170 miles per hour – the highest speed to be tested in the Ceneri Base Tunnel.