Linking Maribor and Šentilj on the border with Austria, Slovenia’s Pekel tunnel with 1.53km length, which is part of a major upgrade to the 18km railway, has achieved a breakthrough. As one of Slovenia’s current largest rail projects, this project’s value is €300m (US$298.5m), while the Pekel tunnel and a 900m-long viaduct are valued at €101m (US$100.5m).
In order to construct the Pekel tunnel, which is stretched from the north of Maribor to the east of the existing rail track, the new Austrian tunneling method has been used.
Working beneath the expressway running through Maribor where the tunnel is almost seven meters below the road, is one of the major challenges for the contractor, Slovenian company Kolektor. Here progress slowed from 4m a day to around 1.5m.
March 2023 is the determined date for completing the tunnel’s construction, whereas the new railway is due to be operational by the end of the year.
While the current top speed of trains is 80km/h, once the upgrade is finished they are going to be able to travel at speeds of up to 120km/h. Additionally, the capacity of this track for trains will raise from 63 to 84 a day, and the annual cargo capacity from 6.3 to 9.9 million tons.
The existing Pocehova tunnel will be used for a new cycling path.