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Tunnel safety

Better protection thanks to emergency galleries

The road tunnels in the Bernese Oberland region are to be upgraded with the latest safety technology. Here the main focus will be on the construction of emergency galleries.

More stringent regulations governing safety in road tunnels were introduced in Switzerland in 2004 as a consequence of a series of major fires in motorway tunnels (Mont Blanc, Tauern, Gotthard) at the turn of the century. All new tunnels now have to be constructed in accordance with the more stringent safety standards, and existing tunnels are being successively upgraded.

In the tunnels in the Bernese Oberland region, the first step was to modify the traffic signalling and guidance systems, and this will be followed up by a variety of structural improvements. Here, the main task concerns the construction of emergency galleries, which will enable people to escape from a tunnel in the event of a fire or other incident.

There are two types of emergency gallery: safety galleries are constructed parallel to the main tube and can be reached via emergency exits installed at regular intervals in the tunnel, while escape galleries lead laterally from the tunnel directly to the exterior. Since 2013, all single-tube tunnels in the Bernese Oberland region are being equipped with emergency galleries: safety galleries will be constructed in longer tunnels, while shorter tunnels will be equipped with escape galleries.

Additional safety measures are also to be implemented in the Rugen tunnel, which comprises two tubes. This tunnel has already been renovated, and in 2020 walls will be constructed between the tunnel portals on both sides in order to ensure that, in the event of a fire in one of the tubes, smoke is prevented from entering the other tube.