New cross-city link of the Swiss Federal Railway

Holcim materials and know-how for cross-city rail link in Zurich

Two bridges, a train station, a tunnel, and a train station expansion. That is, very briefly, the new cross-city link of the Swiss Federal Railway in Zurich. The link brings more frequent and faster train connections, more shops, and new trackage. Holcim Switzerland is an important partner in this project, contributing know-how in concrete technology and competence in material management and delivery as well as rail logistics.


The flow of people through Zurich central station is constantly increasing. By 2020 it will reach some half a million passengers and travelers per day – the railway station will have reached its capacity limits. Hence the new cross-city link of the Swiss Federal Railway (SBB), which as of 2013 will expand the capacity of Zurich as a node for high-speed and regional transport.


The cross-city link consists of several construction sectors where Holcim Switzerland is participating in several important stages. The central part is the new underground station Löwenstrasse. Two new bridges, Kohlendreieckbrücke and Letzigrabenbrücke, connect
it with Altstetten to the west, and Weinberg Tunnel provides the connection to Oerlikon through a five-kilometer-long subterranean S-curve.


Excavation for Löwenstrasse station


As a member of the construction consortium responsible for excavation for the new Löwenstrasse station, Holcim is responsible for rail haulage of the excavated material.
By the end of 2013, 700,000 tonnes of material will have been hauled – equaling a train 150
kilometers long – to sites such as Hüntwangen, where the material will be used for renaturalization of the quarry.


Managing the very small loading site is a special challenge. “Here, all players must stick very precisely to the excavation schedule,” tells Thomas Schmidt, Product Manager at Holcim Switzerland. “The high transport capacity and particularly the great flexibility in rail transport
is one of the strengths of Holcim that is of major importance for this project.”


Cement, aggregates, and knowhow for Weinberg Tunnel


Delivery of aggregates and cement for the sprayed concrete for Weinberg Tunnel also involve enormous quantities and require smooth logistics. 280,000 tonnes of aggregates is being delivered by rail during the construction project. In addition to the aggregates for concrete production, Holcim is also delivering high-grade pea gravel used for the drainage layer of the tunnel.


Holcim is not only delivering material but has proved its know-how in concrete technology, for instance for the protective cover of the large tube running under the Limmat River. Some 11,000 precast elements are required for this structure, and they are being produced in double-shift operation. The requirements for the concrete mix are high, and dimensional tolerances and the stripping schedule must be met precisely. Holcim is using a fast-setting cement to provide the required early strength. After only four hours in the mold the elements develop adequate compressive strength.


Because the cadence of the construction work is dictated by the schedule of Weinberg Tunnel, and the time slot for loading is fixed and must be strictly observed, precise
just-in-time deliveries are absolutely mandatory. The schedule for rail deliveries must be coordinated with the SBB to find gaps for transport within the busy timetable of high-speed and S-Bahn trains. In spite of these difficulties, Holcim had to guarantee punctual delivery from the beginning – and today Thomas Schmidt reports successful project management: "Thanks to our long-standing know-how, all deliveries so far have been on time.”