Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Translated from the German-language entry .
The highest peak is the "Valluga" at 9216 feet. The name Arlberg derives from the tradition of the "Arlenburg," who are said to have once established themselves on the Tirolean side of the Arlberg passes (5,883 ft asl). Another story derives the name from the "Arlenbushes" that are very numerous here. There is no mountain with the name "Arlberg." Popular places in Arlberg are Lech, Zürs, Stuben, St. Christoph und St. Anton.
Pass roads and the Arlberg tunnel
The old pass route was known since the 14th century in the form of a narrow mule track when people began to trade salt in this region. However, because the Arlberg was very poorly developed, for centuries people avoided the route and took detours over the Fern Pass or Immenstadt for trading. The development of the textile industry and of the postal service, however, led to the road's being surfaced in 1824.
With the rise of motor traffic in the 20th century, however, this became inadequate. It was decided that an 8.7 mile long street tunnel would be built between Langen and St. Anton. On July 5, 1974 the work began and the passage was opened to traffic on December 1, 1978. The tunnel has a toll, however the old road over the pass is toll-free. A peculiarity of the tunnel is that it actually consists of two tunnels. On the Tyrolian side it is cut from the "Rosanna Gorge" before the actual massif rises up in the direction of Vorarlberg over the tunnel.
History and Construction
By 1842 a railway over the Arlberg Pass was under discussion, as the English sought a rail connection for traffic from England to Egypt. Two years later, in 1847, Carl Ganahl - a textile industrialist from Feldkirch - decided to locally and privately support the construction. But there were at that time still too many technical reservations. The opening of the Semmering railway in 1854 showed that a mountain railway over the Arlberg was in no way impossible.
Construction started in 1880 and proceeded at a faster pace than planned. Completion was not expected before the fall of 1885, but already by May 29, 1883 the valley route from Innsbruck to Landeck in Tyrol was put into service. On September 21, 1884 the entire length was completed, including (for the time being) a single-track, 6.4 mile long Arlberg tunnel. In comparison to other Alpine tunnel projects there were few problems with the Arlberg tunnel. Nevertheless, tunnel construction alone claimed 92 lives.
Development of the Operation
With the opening of the Arlberg, a completely new connection between Lake Constance and the Adriatic Sea was created. Traffic increased so rapidly that already by July 15, 1885 the second track was opened, which had been projected from the beginning as double-tracked. The flagship train of the Arlberg route was the Arlberg Orient Express, which had only first-class sleeping-, dining- and parlor cars from London to Bucharest.
The use of steam engines presented problems right from the beginning: The tunnel exposed passengers and crews to the unhealthy effects of sulfuric acid, acid rain. The gradients of up to 3.1% on the west ramp and 2.7% on the east ramp made the steam locomotives problematic as well. On November 20, 1924, the problem was eliminated once and for all with the electrification of the tunnel. The ramp sections finally followed in 1925. The electrification of the railway proceeded with foresight on the 15 kV, 16 2/3 Hz system. From then on, many heavy trains could be pulled over the route. As a consequence, however, tracks and civil engineering structures for the increased axle weights had to be prepared, including the renovation of the "Trisanna" bridge at "Castle Wiesberg", in 1964.
Altogether the traffic through the tunnel has increased considerably - despite competition from the streets - so that the approaching ramp rail routes have been almost all been expanded as double tracks. Fast InterCity trains from Vienna to Vorarlberg roll over the connection. On the occasion of the World Ski Championships in 2001 the train station St. Anton on the eastern side of the Arlberg tunnel was completely reconstructed.
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