Light at the end of the...

16 December 2020

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.

Looking back on the year’s events, how many have been unaffected by the pandemic? It was around this time last year when it all started and the intervening period has been tough for all, marked by mass loss of life, redundancies and closures. Perhaps expressing hope using a hackneyed old saying should be forgiven.

One of the main effects suffered by this sector is the restriction on travel which has seen the cancellation of the majority of 2020 conferences – the events page of this and other magazines are testament to that. But now, with mass vaccination looking reasonably likely in the short term, we could see the conferences and events timetable getting back to a degree of normality, probably by next summer, fingers crossed.

Perhaps more importantly, the pandemic has taught us how to be better in everything we do: better in our conduct, better in our relations with others, better in our work, in our care for this precious planet of ours and with it, the sort of world we really want. It is just heart breaking that this learning process should have taken place against a backdrop of over 1.3 million deaths globally – and counting.

But as I have said before, we have a God-given ability to adapt and even thrive under the most trying circumstances, remaining steadfast when tested and finding new solutions to challenges which initially may have felt insurmountable. This has been seen across multiple human endeavours, whether in new working methods, medical science or education.

Tunnel projects may have slowed or even come to a halt for a brief period earlier this year, but we are seeing tunnelling continue to resume and grow in many regions. The UK is seeing a tunnelling renaissance, with major schemes on site and in the pipeline. A day hardly goes by without some new metro breakthrough in India; China tunnelling continues apace; and Australia is seeing major schemes continuing; while in the US, a change of president looks like it could have a beneficial effect on tunnelling there. So, we can perhaps be optimistic for a better 2021 and with it the confidence that we have learned how to thrive under unprecedented circumstances.

Perhaps that’s a good note to end on.


It only remains to say a big thank you to all of you - subscribers, advertisers and contributors - and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.