That Gotthard came last in the ADAC Tunnel Test is not quite as bad as it seems since they were all marked ‘good’, or ‘very good’. Meanwhile, Austria highlights some very sexy upcoming safety technology.
Also, the future of vintage cars in Paris seems assured, at least at the weekends. A Swedish driver earns ten separate speeding fines in Spain on a now notorious road. Drowsiness is the leading cause of death on French motorways, but pedestrians are at high risk too. Good news on the Sofia-Thessaloniki motorway link, but silence on the proposed Kresna mega-tunnel.
GOTTHARD LAST IN TUNNEL TEST
Standards generally high, even at Switzerland’s two-way mega-tunnel.
All the tunnels tested recently by German motoring club ADAC were either ‘good’ or ‘very good’.
ADAC investigated twenty tunnels in all, fourteen in Germany, three in Italy, two in Austria and one in Switzerland.
The best was Berg Bock on the A71 at Suhl between Erfurt and Schweinfurt. Among other things it has well-marked, air tight escape routes, complete video surveillance and even its own fire brigade.
Others that were well-regarded included the A71 Rennsteig Tunnel just up the road at Zella-Mehlis, the A4 Jagdberg at Jena and the A12 Roppener Tunnel near Imst in Austria.
In last place however was the 17km Gotthard Tunnel, on the A2 in south central Switzerland.
Gotthard’s most obvious shortcoming is being single-tube, with two-way, unsegregated traffic. The large proportion of trucks making up its average 17,500 vehicles each day and 2.8km between emergency stations also counted against it.
In response, Swiss touring club TCS notes the results have improved since the last test in 2002, mainly as a result of better traffic monitoring and ventilation.
Meanwhile, Austria roads manager ASFINAG says it is part way through a €1.5bn investment programme with 38 tunnels and tunnel chains due to be renovated by 2019.
As well as continuing to roll out thermal scanners, and fire-fighting high pressure spray systems – which fill the tunnel with cooled water vapour to keep temperatures down – ASFINAG is also pioneering ‘acoustic monitoring’.
Developed by Joanneum Research in Graz, the system filters away background noise to pick out ‘atypical sounds’ in an effort to reduce response time by emergency services.
roundup: SPAIN. A Swedish tourist picked up fifteen separate speeding fines over a two week holiday in Malaga says the Olive Press. The total fine amounted to €1500. According to local reports, the two radars on the A-45 in the Las Pedrizas region to the north of the city, near Antequera, within a few kilometres of each other, are both apparently in the top five for fine revenue in the whole country. Many drivers fall foul of both. While remote speeding fines are not a concern for British (and Irish and Danish) drivers using their own vehicles until May 2017, when the new cross-border directive comes into effect, holiday makers who rent locally registered cars do have to pay. FRANCE. The leading cause of fatal accidents on French motorways is drowsiness according to ASFA, the association of autoroute operators. Released on Saturday to coincide with – supposedly – the busiest day of the year on French roads, the report says nearly a third of deaths in the past five years have been down to drivers falling asleep at the wheel. The number of speeding related accidents has fallen by half in the same period, to 16% of the total. Most shocking, 15% of fatalities are pedestrians, on the roadway following accidents or breakdowns. Overall, autoroutes are five times safer than other roads says the report, a factor not included – we noted – in the recent row over high toll fees, and the rising number of road deaths on France. BULGARIA. The southernmost section of the Struma Highway opened on Friday says Novinite.com, a significant step in completing the 150km motorway link between capital Sofia and Thessaloniki, Greece. The new 14.7km stretch links the border at Kulata with Sandanski. The work was co-financed between the EU Cohesion Fund and the national budget though at what proportion is not clear. With the northernmost section of Struma already open, and the next one south to be completed by October, only the (significant) 64km section including the Kresna Gorge remains. However, nothing more has been heard since plans were revealed last year to build a 15.4km tunnel through Kresna in a bid to preserve one of the Balkan’s best known beauty spots and wildlife havens.