The MaTrans JV of Balfour Beatty/Marti Holding/Walter Gruppe/Porr has been awarded the $172.8m Steg package of the Lötschberg Tunnel section of the AlpTransit project in Switzerland.

The 9.5km long tunnel will have a 9.5m diameter and is to be excavated predominantly by a hard rock TBM with the remainder by drill + blast. Primary support will be rock-bolts, mesh, arches and shotcrete, with a final secondary lining of concrete.

The work includes an access adit, to be used later for motorail, and the northbound running tunnels from Lötschen to Ferden, together with cross over and cross passages. The Steg project is scheduled for completion in February 2005 and is the first of four major packages to be let on the Lötschberg Base Tunnel by the client, BLS AlpTransit, a subsidiary of Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (Swiss Railways).

The 35km long Lötschberg project is an integral part of the Bern-Lötschberg-Simplon Alp Transit railway axis. The tunnels will form a key route for the transportation of freight between EU countries.