The first passenger train officially crossed the 33 km twin tube Koralm tunnel in Austria, after 15 years of construction, linking the southern states of Carinthia and Styria through the Koralmbahn.
To mark the milestone, a special train carried the Governor of Carinthia, Peter Kaiser, the Governor of Styria Christopher Drexler, transport councilors of Styria, Anton Lang, and Carinthia, Sebastian Schuschnig, as well as the Member of the Board for ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG Judith Engel and ÖBB project manager Klaus Schneider.
“The Koralmbahn is in the final phases and on schedule. We are very proud of this. With the Koralm tunnel we connect Styria and Carinthia in a new transport quality. In just two and a half years, passengers will be traveling relaxed and environmentally friendly through the middle of the Koralpe [Koralm], and in less than an hour from Graz to Klagenfurt. In this way, we are literally leaving the car behind and are creating the mobility of the future,” Judith Engel said.
The tunnel has an internal diameter of 10 metres with cross-passages every 500 metres. During the construction, 6 million m³ of material has been excavated, and 160,000 of concrete tunnel lining segments and 13,000 track slabs were installed.
“The Koralmbahn will change mobility behavior not only in Carinthia. The regions are becoming more lively, our federal states are moving even closer together, distances are becoming smaller, mobility is becoming more environmentally friendly. With the Koralm tunnel and the Koralmbahn as part of a transport axis connecting Europe, huge new opportunities are emerging from which our children and grandchildren will also benefit – both in terms of quality of life and the opportunity to be able to fulfill their professional dreams <at home>,” Peter Kaiser said.
The Koralm tunnel is a part of the new railway line between Graz and Klagenfurt (Koralmbahn) currently under construction which when completed in 2025 will allow trains to run at 250 km/h. The first section between Klagenfurt and St. Paul in Lavanttal will enter operation in 2023 and the entire Koralmbahn will become operational in 2025 when passenger will travel 45 minutes between Graz and Klagenfurt.
“The Koralm Tunnel is an internationally renowned piece of engineering and the heart of one of the most important traffic axes of the future – not only for Styria, but for all of Austria. It closes a very important gap in the European infrastructure,” the Governor of Styria said.
The 130 km Koralmbahn includes 47 km of tunnels, over 100 bridges and 23 modern stations and stops and is part of new southern route, significantly reducing travel time. From 2030, with the Semmering Base Tunnel, the journey from Vienna to Graz will be reduced to 1:50 hours from currently 2:40 hours and from Vienna to Klagenfurt, travel time will be reduced to 2:40 hours instead of 4:00 hours.