Blogs ArchiveArchive of blogs from the global tunnels industry
Blogs By Date
Every few months I have a meeting with the magazine’s Editorial Advisory Board, in which I ask their advice, plan future issues and weather some constructive criticism (this editorial will be reviewed at about 11.30am on 18 January 2019 – not that I am feeling self-conscious).
Half a Degree
As T&T went to press the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change, announced that limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C would provide clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, and goes hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society.
Science of the small
It has been a while since I wrote about tunnelling efforts to further humanity’s understanding of particle physics.
Welsh fairy tale
Fairy tales: we all remember our favourites. Steve Mackey, chair of the Rhondda Tunnel Society may well be living his own.
Tap in to the public mood
Growing up in southern Italy, I spent most of my days during the hot summers in an olive tree in my garden. This hundred-year-old tree kept all of my secrets and protected the little girl who wanted to explore new cities all over the world. I still love my home, Nardò, situated in Puglia (the heel of Italy’s boot) but as an adult I left my olive tree to work in London.
The dirty “p” word
Cities aren’t built by engineers, they are built by those who step up and lead,” according to Sevaun Palvetzian CEO of Civic Action, a Toronto based non-profi t coalition to address the region’s social and economic future. Her sentiment, while true, is aimed at building inclusive leadership at the civic level, an effort that is laudable. However, it’s also a message the industry should take personally. More people from the engineering and construction fi elds, as well as science, medicine and other professional realms, need to be involved in politics at all levels from the local school board to the federal government.
An Austrian Method
A joint venture led by Porr has been awarded a major contract on the largest tunnelling project in Austrian history, the Brenner Base Tunnel. The design-build consortium, which includes Porr, Hinteregger & Söhne Baugesellschaft, Società Italiana per Condotte d’Acqua, and Itinera will construct Lot BBT H51 Pfons-Brenner for around EUR 966M (USD 1.2bn).
Look back to look forward
January marked 200 years since Marc Brunel patented the first tunnelling shield. The cover of this issue shows just how far the industry has come since he tunnelled under London’s river Thames, and further in the features illustrate the strides the industry has made over the last decades.
World tunnel congress
The international tunnelling industry will gather in Dubai towards the end of April for the 44th ITA General Assembly and World Tunnel Congress. This should be an interesting one.
Whenever I hear about whatever the ITA Committee for Underground Space (ITACUS) is up to, I think about that Joni Mitchell song, Big Yellow Taxi. In it, she sings about a future world where humanity has “paved over paradise and put up a parking lot”.
At a presentation to a council meeting in the final week of January, Elon Musk’s tunnelling company presented plans to tunnel under western Los Angeles.
Advance through apathy
The Zojila Pass Tunnel may go ahead, finally, as it received government approval this month. The project is to build an all-weather road route to Jammu and Kashmir, featuring a 14km-long tunnel.
Montreal, home to miles of underground city amenities offering residents access to shopping, dinning, transit and entertainment, while connecting them to above ground buildings and facilities—a network especially appreciated during the harsh winter months—played a perfect host for Han Admiraal and Antonia Cornaro of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association’s Committee on Underground Space (ITACUS).
What’s the risk?
This month I am stealing a comment hook from the British Tunnelling Society again. At the October meeting, the evening’s lecture was on the management of risk in tunnelling and major infrastructure projects.
Bigger isn’t always bad
The global tunnelling industry is worth USD 1.5tr, according to a new report released in August by Timetric. Leading the pack is Europe, with a project pipeline of almost USD 575bn, surpassing Asia-Pacifi c by a mere USD 10bn. The report attributes this economic success for the region to mega-projects for high-speed and metro rail system expansion.
The Nuclear Solution
Balfour Beatty has announced that it is EDF Energy’s preferred bidder for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station tunnelling and marine works package. The four-year contract will involve the construction of three tunnels for a total of 9.5km in length and 7m in diameter. The tunnels will form part of the cooling system required.
Historians contend their subject matter’s utility helps us understand ourselves and the societies in which we live. To borrow an idea from civil engineering—we must understand the foundation before we build upon it. Looking beyond the literal interpretations, in the tunnelling industry without history one cannot appreciate the (comparative) ease, comfort and safety of today’s work environment and modern equipment.