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Light at the end of the...
As 2020 draws to a close, I am seeing increasing daily use of that dreadful ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ cliché which many of us in the tunnel press avoid using like the plague. It is being used not to mark the end of a long, hard year, which of course it has been for many of us, but to express hope that multiple vaccines for covid-19 appear to be a distinct possibility.
A great big beautiful book
New publications are awaited with interest and expectation – at least they should be. We like to hear of new stories, ideas and interpretations. That is why the publication of a book in 2021 which celebrates 50 years of the British Tunnelling Society (BTS) should create more than just a stir in the industry.
Industry needs a WTC2021
So, another World Tunnel Congress (WTC) has come to what can only be termed a fairly successful conclusion given the unprecedented Covid-19 malaise under which it was held and so rapidly put together.
Achieving science fiction
There seems no halting the progress of technology and its innumerable benefits. A really inspiring announcement from the British government states that by Spring 2021, automated lane-keeping systems could be legal on UK roads for low-speed driving.
Decoupling from China
US-China relations are going through a tough time as the so-called ‘decoupling’ process enters a new phase, accompanied by the usual war of words. Rather than a straightforward trade war, we seem to be witnessing a tectonic geopolitical shift that will affect us all.
Supply malaise continues
It has been said that many of the jobs we will need in 20 years’ time have not yet been invented. But you can bet your bottom dollar that we will still need engineers in 20, 40, even 200 years’ time. In fact, increasingly complex technological societies – e.g. ones where the exploitation of underground space continues to expand – will probably need even more engineers than they do today.
Migrating to online
I heard a rumour on the grapevine recently (which thankfully proved false) that a highly-respected school of tunnelling was to withdraw its MSc programme.
The question now on almost everyone’s lips is how are our professional activities going to change after the easing of lockdowns,
New year resolutions
You’re supposed to floss your teeth, quit smoking, eat more vegetables, get 30 minutes of exercise each day, cut down on anything worth eating or drinking, and the list goes on. And whether or not you actually do that, or try to, the doctor or dentist is told one’s very best efforts are being applied, mostly.
Queensbury renovation has popular support
The good people of West Yorkshire have rallied against the closure of the 1.4-mile (2.3km) Queensbury Tunnel, with 6,000 signing a petition in support. While this does not amount to a pardon for the abandoned 140-year-old structure, hopefully the Department for Transport (DfT) will take notice.
Left foot forward
After a tumultuous and tiring few years for the British electorate, a towering majority for the Conservative Party makes it very likely that Britain will leave the European Union in short order.
It is nice to look back 20 years at the Y2K panic and laugh. Entering adulthood for many of a certain generation, particularly in the US, has been marked by momentous and somber events. Specifically 9/11 and the Lehman Brothers crash, which we couldn’t control but yet that shaped the way we established our careers and lives.
Choice of method
One of the important things to remember about science is that it is always refining. While a field advances, improved data collection and the interpretation of studies brings the model we base our understanding on closer to reality.
In this issue we have a fire protection angle. You will find several articles covering an incident in Gdansk, variable frequency drives, the impact of fire events on tunnel linings and a piece on the latest health and safety thinking in this area.
Experience what’s out there
A tunnel is roughly defined, when a definition can be narrowed down at all. A drive time radio host sharing the traffic report will refer to a surface-level enclosed road as a tunnel, or a pedestrian walkway in a culvert, or even an eight lane overpass. When I started working with Tunnels & Tunnelling the general guidelines for covering a project were, at least a kilometer long, and at least eight feet in diameter. The specific numbers aren’t as important, though, as what they signify—the need to excavate without disrupting the surface.
A 40-year strategy
There are many in this industry who will say “nothing changes” in tunnelling. Obvious technological advancements, mergers and retirements aside, many times they are right.
HS2 under review
It is understood that HS2 is at the starting blocks and ready to go. The visible evidence of this can be seen across the county, with major demolition and enabling works around Euston and along the route. The long term effects on spreading wealth northwards can also be seen with development being undertaken in Birmingham and Manchester.
Planning for the twenties
In this issue of Tunnels and Tunnelling International Paola De Pascali reports from the World Tunnel Congress, which was held in Naples in May and saw a number of publications from working groups and committees. The ITA Committee for Technology (ITAtech was particularly prolific.