Breakthrough on Slovenian tunnel

25 August 2022

Breakthrough has been achieved on Slovenia’s Pekel tunnel.

The 1.53km tunnel is part of a major upgrade to the 18km railway connecting Maribor and Šentilj on the border with Austria. Valued at €300m (US$298.5m), it is currently one of Slovenia’s largest rail projects.

The Pekel tunnel and a 900m-long viaduct are valued at €101m (US$100.5m).

The Pekel tunnel, located north of Maribor, to the east of the existing rail track, is being built using the new Austrian tunnelling method.

For the contractor, Slovenian company Kolektor, one of the major challenges was working under the expressway running through Maribor where the tunnel is about seven metres below the road. Here progress slowed from 4m a day to around 1.5m.

Tunnel construction is due to be completed by March next year and the new railway will be operational by the end of the year.

Following the upgrade, trains will be able to travel at speeds of up to 120km/h, up from the current top speed of 80km/h. The number of trains the track can handle will increase from 63 to 84 a day, and cargo capacity from 6.3 to 9.9 million tonnes a year.

The existing Pocehova tunnel will be used for a new cycling path.