Rodent chews through supply cable.

Night-time operation on the Simplon Pass.

On the night of Monday, 1 November 2021 a connection was suddenly broken in the Simplon region of Valais. The cause? A rodent had chewed through an underground supply cable to Swisscom headquarters. The repair took one and a half days.

Author Larissa Mihalik

It is well known that rodents, especially martens, eat whatever they can find during the cold season. But a supply cable? That was certainly something new for cablex. We do not know whether the damage was caused by a marten or another rodent. But whatever animal it was knocked out 269 connections and made several people break into a sweat within a very short time. The Simplon Pass road even had to be closed on one side to repair the fault. First of all, however, one thing has to be said: Without the team’s unique spirit and commendable commitment, the damage could not have been repaired so quickly.

Rodent chews through supply cable.

Extent of the damage.

The damage was caused to an underground supply cable leading to the Swisscom headquarters. If this is damaged, all other cables connected to the supply cable will also no longer function. For this reason, the entire supply cable had to be dug up and replaced with a new one. In total, more than 50 shafts were opened and seven kilometres of cable were replaced. So that, along with the difficult local conditions of cold and snow, was one of the reasons why the fault repair extended over one and a half days.


Tremendous spirit at the scene.

Difficult situations always have an advantage: People stick together and help each other. This was certainly demonstrated by this rodent damage incident in the Simplon region. Thanks to the great cooperation between the cablex divisions Wireline Construction, Field Services and Wireline Rollout, the operation was carried out quickly and efficiently. Within a very short time, employees from all regions of Switzerland were alerted and ordered to report to the Simplon Pass. On-site, our measurement technician Michael Brenner (FS-W-4) took over the management and coordination of the employees.

Twelve employees were always on-site in rotation. In addition, protective tents were set up and hot food was on offer to help them brave the cold on the pass. Lea Wunderlin (FS-PBX) acted as the go-between for employees on-site and employees in the offices and headquarters. Thanks to her, everyone involved was kept up to date on the construction work at all times.

A huge thank you goes out to all those involved for their spontaneity and willingness!

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