An end to bad vibrations

Austrian vibration-solution company Getzner Werkstoffe is using absorbent elastic foam to make rail journeys through the world’s second-longest tunnel safe and quiet.

When Switzerland’s Lötschberg tunnel is completed in 2007, it will measure 35 km in length – only the Channel Tunnel is longer. Its two tunnels, 40 metres apart, will transport passengers at speeds of up to 250 km/h and carry freight trains loaded with trucks.

BLS AlpTransit, the Swiss company building the tunnel, is mounting track ties on highly elastic polyurethane (PUR) mats manufactured by Gertzner. The material is designed to reduce the stress of vibrations caused by heavy tunnel traffic which could impact safety and lead to costly damages. Getzner worked with chemical group BASF to refine and test the PUR.

Peter Burtscher, Getzner’s marketing director, said, “We optimised our materials to withstand special stresses, incurred in part due to the combination of very low temperatures and humidity. Whatever hardships the environment could pose, the mats had to retain their properties for the long run.”

Getzner has previously provided vibration-absorption solutions for the 16 km long Öresund Bridge linking Denmark and Sweden, office buildings on Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz and the subway underneath the Acropolis Museum in Athens.