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Written by James Geldart, International Sales Manager

MineARC Refuge Chambers are in high demand at the Brenner Base Tunnel (BBT), with a fourth TunnelSAFE chamber due to be commissioned in April.

A Joint venture of European construction companies, STRABAG and salini impregilo (Arge Tulfes Pfons – ATP)  – responsible for construction of the Tulfes Pfons section located at Innsbruck in Austria. – contacted MineARC late last year to develop a customised refuge chamber solution.

They required a 24-person chamber that could be mounted onto a Multi-Service Vehicle (MSV) and allow for stretcher accessibility in the event of injury to personnel. This MSV is parked behind the TBM back up gantries and shall be used for the escape of the TBM crew in case of a fire.

In response, MineARC Engineers developed a custom TunnelSAFE MSV Design for ATP that features a unique 45° angle front entrance, enabling easy access in even the most space restricting scenarios. The  design allows for injured personnel to be carried into the chamber on a stretcher, even when the chamber is mounted flush with the front or back of the MSV. The interior of the chamber provides plenty of additional space to lay a stretcher on the floor.

Another interesting feature of ATP’s TunnelSAFE MSV Design is the high ambient air-conditioning system, designed to enable the chamber to withstand temperatures of up to 50°C. Built specifically to provide commercial-grade cooling under the harshest conditions, the air-conditioning system is ATEX rated and meets T4 temperature classification.

The ATP chamber has other additional features that, although standard to the TunnelSAFE range, are considered unique in the industry, such as:

  • Positive Pressure Maintenance System (PPMS) with visual reference
  • 5 psi blast rating
  • 24 hour minimum duration with UPS battery back up
  • Extra-low-voltage (ELV) control system with CO and CO2 scrubbing
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James Geldart, MineARC International Sales Manager, travelled to the Austrian construction site in early March to commission the TunnelSAFE MSV Design for the project.

The Brenner Base Tunnel (BBT) is the main element of the new Brenner railway from Munich to Verona. At 64 km, it is the longest underground railway connection in the world. The BBT was planned primarily to relieve freight transport between Austria and Italy. Currently, it relies on either road over the Alps or it contends with the steep uphill and downhill slopes of the antiquated Brenner railway line, parts of which date back 140 years.

In further news, MineARC will soon deliver another chamber for the Lyon and Turin Tunnelling Project in the French Alps. Since February 2015, MineARC has commissioned 3 chambers on site, with 6 more scheduled to be commissioned in the next 3 months.

In addition to the above chambers MineARC Engineers have designed a custom TunnelSAFE MSV Chamber to provide high occupancy evacuation during an emergency.

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The chamber features standing room for as many as 30 personnel at any one time. The customized fold-down step leading to the main entry allows for quick and easy access to the chamber whilst it is mounted on an MSV.

The chamber also features MineARC’s unique self-contained misting system. Developed to assist in heat suppression, the system emits a fine mist of water around the exterior of the chamber. The mist is set to a droplet size that will flash evaporate under high temperatures, creating a temperature barrier around the chamber which, in turn, maintains an internal environment that is life-sustainable. For more detail on MineARC’s misting option, watch our video here.

The Lyon-Turin TunnelSAFE MSV Design is due to be delivered to site in the next 4 months.

The Lyon-Turin development is a €7billion high capacity railway project to connect France and Italy. The new line is hoped to boost trade throughout southern Europe, allowing freight and passenger travel to increase. 87km of the 140km route will run through the French Alps; including an impressive 57km-long stretch of underground tunnel between St Jean de Maurienne, France and Chiomonte in Italy. Boring will take place from 17 points along the route, and it will take over five years to complete construction, with another three for testing.

For further information on MineARC’s range of TunnelSAFE Refuge Chambers, please click here or email