Taking a grip

3 August 2022

We are always looking to the future while trying to learn useful tips from the past, whether from our own history or the experiences of those kind enough to share lessons.

Often governments trot out hugely ambitious, headline-grabbing, tub-thumping, pulse-pounding lists of colossal investment programmes, needing dozens of projects, on tight and neatly rounded-off deadlines. The lists certainly build conversation. While their targets are mainly top-down and based on need, the necessary complement of the view from the supply side, from ground up, is not always apparent.

An interesting perspective arises when the big list relates to infrastructure.

The energy and infrastructure industries – all clients, and all designers, contractors, manufacturers and suppliers, and all those funding projects – know how long individual projects can take to be realised, even when going well. But multiply up those project numbers and timeframes and there is rarely a match to the programme wish lists, especially without a bigger supply base.

More infrastructure is needed and much else besides. And soon. And perhaps some will be undertaken differently, too, in many ways.

Perhaps the conversation of supply and demand needs to be joined by engineers and made real. Practical. Tangible. To make dreams doable must be in everyone’s interest. Much has to be discussed in weighing scale and time but also in selecting what to do.

This September, the World Tunnel Congress will gather in Copenhagen where, courtesy of the host Denmark, a focus will be on sustainability – and the practical ways to deliver. In this issue of T&T, we preview WTC and also look at how advances in low carbon performance are taking their place in the use of concrete in developing underground space.

Time seems always to be on our minds. For the long game, opportunities exist now to talk practically about what can be done with infrastructure. At scale.

Patrick Reynolds Editor