Digest: Major Alps tunnel project suffers setback

News Wire Digest third section for Nov. 2: DC, FRA in dispute over Washington Union Station; NRC seeks nominees for construction awards
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A service train operates in the main bore of the Brenner Base Tunnel, under construction between Austria and Italy. The company overseeing the project has canceled the contract of a major construction consortium.

Monday morning rail infrastructure and construction news:

Austria-Italy tunnel project set back by contract dispute

The project that will, by one measure, create the world's longest rail tunnel has suffered a setback as the company overseeing building of the Brenner Base Tunnel between Austria and Italy cancelled its contract with a construction consortium. Agence France-Presse reports BBT SE said it was ending its relationship with ARGE H51, an Austrian-Italian consortium with a major role in the project, because of “a definitive refusal to provide contractually agreed services and a loss of trust,” and that there has been “no constructive collaborationg with ARGE H51 since the awarding of the contract.” BBT SE did not indicate how the decision might affect the progress of construction, which is already three years behind the original estimate. One of the companies involved in the consortium called the decision “plainly unlawful” and that it will “take every step necessary to protect its rights.” At issue as a contract for almost 1 billion Euros (about $1.18 million). While the primary tunnel will be 34.2 miles long, slightly shorter than Switzerland’s 35.4-mile Gotthard Base Tunnel, the tunnel and a connecting bypass of Innsbruck, Austria, will be 39.8 miles. More details on the project are available here.

District of Columbia, FRA divided by plans for Washington Union Station
District of Columbia officials and the Federal Railroad Administration are in a dispute over a proposed $10 billion redevelopment plan for Washington Union Station, with inclusion of a multilevel parking garage one of the chief points of disagreement. The Washington Post reports the city’s mayor, council, non-voting delegate to the House of Representatives, and local groups have objected to the garage because most people don’t drive to the station and its inclusion will encourage traffic and pollution. The FRA, which owns Union Station and leading review of the project, says it will consider the local opinions but that current information does not warrant reducing the amount of parking. The proposed project would triple passenger capacity and turn the facility into a regional transit hub.

NRC seeking applications for safety, project, employee awards
The National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association is now accepting applications for its 2020 safety and special awards. The annual Safety Award recognizes member companies with exemplary safety performance during the year; an application is available here. The Construction Project of the Year offers two awards, for large projects (budgets over $10 million) and small projects ($10 million or less), to honor innovation, expertise and quality project management. Applications are available here. And the Field Employee of the Year Award recognizes the rail contracting employee who has demonstrated dedication and excellence in his or her field. Applications for that award are here.

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