Lake Zug East: Switzerland’s longest construction site completed


The Lake Zug East infrastructure measures were successfully completed after 20 months of construction – thanks to good planning by Emch+Berger with Allplan

Until recently, the infrastructure measures at Lake Zug East were the longest construction site in Switzerland. The 15km long project has since been successfully completed after 20 months of construction. Not only has the full closure – which was necessary for economic and environmental protection reasons – been lifted, but also one of the important access routes to the Gotthard Tunnel has been completed.

The fact that this could be done without any problems and delivered on schedule despite coronavirus is due to the work of Emch+Berger. The engineering firm was commissioned by the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) to undertake the planning, overall project management and construction management. The planning was based on a BIM model in Allplan Engineering.

Double-track expansion and renovation of engineering structures

The project consists of four sub-projects, the centrepiece of which was a 1.7km long double-track extension of the northern track at Walchwil Station. The slopes – which included inclines of up to 35 degrees – proved to be a particular challenge in terms of logistics, geology and the planning of the supporting structures.

The other sub-projects comprised the maintenance of engineering structures, roadways, tunnels and protective structures against natural hazards.

On the approximately 12km open stretch between Zug and Arth Goldau, around 90 engineering structures were renovated or replaced by new ones and the track – including the railway system – was completely renewed. Of the eight tunnels, one had to be practically rebuilt due to being widened to two lanes.

The profiles of the other single-lane tunnels were also expanded to allow the double-decker trains through, for which the floors in the 120-year-old natural stone structures had to be lowered and the vaults re-supported. This shows the complexity of the construction project and the demands it placed on the engineering offices designing it and the companies carrying out the construction. On average, six engineers and five designers from the engineering team were involved in the large-scale project.

In autumn 2018, planning had to be ramped up again at short notice when the construction started, after having been delayed by several years.

Designer Robin Tschuppert and civil engineer Manuel Sigrist, Emch+Berger WSB AG, Cham/Switzerland

“That’s when we had to join forces and concentrate on what was absolutely necessary. For this reason, I was grateful for a well-coordinated team, the support of another office of the Emch+Berger Group and the reliability of the Allplan software,” recalls Manuel Sigrist, civil engineer at Emch+Berger.

For repetitive details such as bridge seals or seepage packs for retaining walls, schematic plans were drawn up and submitted. This meant that the numerous general arrangement drawings could be derived from the 3D models with little effort.

Drone image of the new double track Walchwil © Emch+Berger

For example, the designer Robin Tschuppert modelled all the retaining structures in the double-track section in 3D. “In the process, I also used the civil engineering and bridge construction tools in Allplan for support,” he explains.

The 3D model from Allplan was particularly useful for the portals of the new two-lane Büel tunnel: the data from the model was passed on to the formwork company via the IFC interface. The CNC-controlled machine then cut the defined elements to millimetre accuracy.

The staking points of each formwork element could also be taken from the model and efficiently and precisely brought into the correct position on the construction site. For the other structures, the data from the model was mainly used for the creation of excavation pits, the removal of rock surfaces, the filling of embankments and generally for all setting out.

For Manuel Sigrist and Robin Tschuppert, the final conclusion is clear: “We were able to gain valuable experience in 3D modelling in this major project and know exactly what we will do differently in a next project.”

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