The railway line Matterhorn Gotthard has a section called Obre-Biel that is being used by as many as ten passanger trains per hour, along with cargo trains. Over the years, this section of the railway has been inundated by snow slides and smaller avalanches. Consequently, railway traffic has been severly impaired and has also created the danger of possible trail derailment. The line was also endangered by rockfalls.
The soution shall protect the railway line against snow slides, snow avalanches and rockfalls. Choosing flexible rockfall barriers willl decrease the amount of traffic disturbances.
Standard rockfall barriers are designed to deal with loads caused by rockfalls. So, to serve as a mutli-hazard protection system, some special dimensioning has to be implemented.
Such special dimensioning is not possible without involving computer simulations. For this purpose, Geobrugg uses finite element simulation software called FARO. FARO was originally developed by the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research, and WSL, in order to simulate rockfall barriers with ring nets.
Further software development financed by the Commision for Technology and Innovation CTI allowes surface load simulations caused by debris flows, shallow landslides and avalanches.
By using FARO software, a total of 182 meters of rockfall barriers were correctly dimensioned to protect the railway line. They were finally divided into three lines of 112, 42 and 28 meters.