09. June 2016 | Drahtex AG

Fiber optic technology by DRAHTEX in the Gotthard Base Tunnel

On 1st June 2016, 17 years after the first blasting for the main collection conduit, the world's longest railway tunnel was officially opened. Switzerland has reason to celebrate. Both domestic and international guests of honour, including Angela Merkel, were present for the event, and the entire population was invited to an unforgettable festival. The highlight was certainly the first trips through the 57-kilometre tunnel with the Gotthard shuttle, at speed up to 200 km/hr.
Telegärtner subsidiary DRAHTEX participated in this gigantic project, engaged by Transtec Gotthard (the general contractor for the tunnel and technical systems) to provide the fiber optic infrastructure, fixed installation and construction site communications.

Why fiber in the Gotthard Base Tunnel?

The electromagnetically rich railway systems environment, with its many sources of interference, makes interference-free connections essential. The advantages of fiber optic technology are inarguable. There are no problems with line lengths. fiber optic cables are significantly thinner and lighter for comparable transmission capacities. Another great advantage of Blow Fiber technology is in its optimum cost/benefit ratio.

For example, the installation can be adapted to current needs at any time without large construction efforts. With the Blow Fiber technology used in this project, the existing fibers can simply be blown out and new ones blown in. That makes extension and expansion easy at any time. There is no need to build in unused fiber reserves. In the Gotthard Base Tunnel, fiber optic sections up to 4 km in length were blown in. That may be a world record.

The DRAHTEX solution at a glance:
3,100 km of fiber bundles for fine distribution
75,000 km fiber length for fiber optics
1,445 couplings
6,000 km of microtubes
3,000 end equipment components for fiber optics
1,100 fiber optic module inserts, 12 E2000 APC each
440 cable-end connectors


The Gotthard construction project was also a great challenge for Drahtex. Products such as couplings and cable-end connectors were developed specifically for this project. This is a speciality of Drahtex. Products that are flexibly adapted or developed for specific needs. Drahtex employees were also frequently on-site to train the workers blowing in the fibers and to get a picture on-site of the progress of construction. Even on these sections up to 4 km in length, blowing in the fiber bundles worked perfectly. This is probably the best possible test of this technology, that it can work even at such extreme distances.

 More details on DRAHTEX homepage.

Impressions out of 17 years construction time in a video by Alp Transit Gotthard AG