Railroad track construction with the Volken Group

Plan, refurbish & implement exactly according to schedule

With the Volken Group, public transport also stays on track: In railroad track construction, we coordinate and implement a wide range of projects, from minor renovation work to complex new buildings. We have ideas that are effective, extensive know-how and employees who can keep tight deadlines. This is the only way to ensure that our services are well perceived by our customers. Here, too, we have built up a good reputation with numerous references.

This keeps everyone safely on track

In many cases, railroad track construction must be carried out without interrupting traffic. This is also a challenge for our construction supervisors and project managers, as they are responsible for the safety of all employees. To avoid any risks, they meet regularly for on-site construction meetings and check at all times that the preventive measures are working. In most cases, the overhead lines carry electricity. For this reason, all construction machines must be earthed so that no one is injured if they come into contact with them. To this end, the personnel receive comprehensive training, are informed about potential problems, and are accompanied by a safety guard.

We track a lot of things

Thanks to its combined competencies, great flexibility and a wealth of experience, the Volken Group is able to execute even the most complex projects – for both narrow-gauge and standard-gauge railroads. We build cable and platform systems, mast foundations, concrete structures and engineering structures, substructure renovations and total reconstructions – often with the help of our civil engineering specialists.

BLS, MGB and SBB have been on board for a long time

For the narrow-gauge Matterhorn-Gotthard Railroad, we are active on the route network from Zermatt to Oberwald. In the standard-gauge sector, we carry out various projects with our ARGE partners: for BLS on the Brig-Goppenstein section, for SBB in the Upper and Lower Valais. Here, our Kaiser S22 track excavator is a strong draft horse; it can move on and off the track over a single-track section. For this purpose, the machine operator has completed special training, which he has to upgrade on a regular basis. We are also supported by an MBA rail trailer: With this trailer and its loading area of more than 5 x 2 meters, we can move up to 17 tons of material on the track.

New rolling stock and more passengers require suitable facilities

In the coming years, the Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn (MGB) plans to comprehensively modernize its vehicle fleet. To this end, 12 new "Orion" standard multiple units will be acquired by 2023, followed by 15 additional models by 2028. For this purpose, the existing depots and workshops in Glisergrund will have to be adapted and expanded. The project includes hall extensions to the east and west, a new underfloor lifting system, a new washing facility and several building modifications. At the same time, the signal box and the track field are also being renewed. New sidings, a new peripheral pit, a new railroad yard and new catenary systems will be installed in the latter. The project is rounded off with further work: On the one hand, the substructure and superstructure plus the drainage will be upgraded to current standards, while on the other hand the safety installations and the service lines will be adapted or supplemented. The Volken Group is also significantly involved in this multi-lane project.

Renewing proven infrastructure

New buildings are one thing, but refurbishments and renovations are another. This often involves night shifts, which we have to announce several weeks in advance so that they can be approved by the rail operator. Strict time windows and a precise shift schedule apply. Normally, we get clearance between 23:00 and 05:00, when operations are suspended. In order to work safely, our staff is also trained to switch the overhead lines on and off. Working at night is less efficient: because railroad traffic runs 7 days a week, we have to rebuild the installations before each shift – with all the machines and tools.

Everyone must be vigilant

Good training and clear instructions from the safety officer are the be-all and end-all in a railroad track construction operation. Only employees who have confirmed that they are aware of all the requirements regarding workplace conduct and protective equipment are allowed to work here: No work is allowed before and while a train is crossing the construction site. Reflective orange work clothing is mandatory. Stress is an absolute no-go. Only those who proceed calmly and prudently can also work safely.

Safety is the top priority

A safety officer is always present per team when work is being carried out when traffic is running, either on behalf of the railroad operator or the Volken Group. In addition, a warning signal is heard and a light flashes as soon as a train approaches the construction site. Work then stops until the train has passed. When this happens, the employees raise their hands and maintain eye contact with the train driver, who also gives a hand signal. This ensures that he, too, can be sure that his train has been noticed.

Close cooperation with the Civil Engineering unit

In the mountainous canton of Valais, railroad lines pass through narrow valleys with steep slopes in many places. The terrain is often in motion and can endanger rail traffic. This is where the Volken Group's specialist civil engineering services come into play, with engineers or geologists initiating the necessary construction measures. Some of these also involve slope stabilization using various anchors, soil nailing or injections in the subsoil.

More about foundation engineering

Logistics is ahead if there is not enough space

Construction with train traffic on narrow tracks is also a real challenge for logistics. Many construction site installations have to be fitted into a very confined space. In addition, in many places the construction sites can only be reached via the track. That's why we transport construction machinery, fuel and tools at night, usually with suitable transport wagons and track-compatible low-loaders from the rail operator itself. This requires close coordination of all parties involved.

Closing the railroad gives us access

During the total reconstruction of the Lax train station in Goms, the first ever underpass was built, among other things. This increases comfort for rail customers and their safety. Preparations began months beforehand involving work while traffic was still running. The project also included newly designed, handicapped-accessible platforms and the side ramps of the underpass. The actual construction phase started at the end of October and lasted approximately 3 weeks, the same period during which the Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn (MGB) closes its railroad every year. During this time, the entire roadway was replaced with a new one and the underpass was constructed with prefabricated elements.

Day and night work to move faster

During total road closures, we always deal with railroad projects at high pressure. Our main work must be completed after the 2nd week so that other companies can build the roadway. That's why we tackle different types of work simultaneously. This is the only way to complete projects that normally take several weeks within 2 weeks. This requires a lot of resources and large capacities on our part: we deploy more personnel, work with more construction machinery and reserve more trucks for transportation.

If we are late, so are the trains

In railroad track construction, everything has to go hand in hand, otherwise it is difficult to meet the deadlines. That's why all projects have to be completed on time so that the lines are once again free for public transport.

Benefits with the Volken Group

A contact person

Whether it be excavation support, shell construction, or scaffolding, a contact person will be there to assist you.

Modern machinery

We use the newest machines and happily take advantage of high tech.

Proven specialists

Whether it be structural or civil engineering, hydraulic engineering or scaffolding, our specialists are masters of their trade.

Contact persons

Adem Salihi

Head of Department Railway Construction

+41 79 755 23 92

+41 27 948 05 48

adem.salihi@volken-group.ch

Erhard Burgener

Head of Civil Engineering

+41 79 744 68 16

+41 27 948 05 48

erhard.burgener@volken-group.ch

Stefan Volken

Member of the management

+41 79 658 63 33

+41 27 948 05 05

stefan.volken@volken-group.ch