World-class venue for BTS bid for WTC2019 25 Feb 2016

BTS News Release

Key to the success of a world-class conference is a world-class venue and the British Tunnelling Society (BTS) is planning to deliver both in its bid to host the World Tunnel Congress (WTC) in 2019 in London.

London is often referred to as a capital of the world and its modern, purpose-built International Conference Centre (ICC) at the ExCeL complex on the banks of the River Thames is the venue proposed for the Congress and its associated industry exhibition.

The centre is ideally suited to meet the requirements of the WTC.

ExCeL was one of the sites that hosted events for the 2012 London Olympics and this part of the city benefited from significant investment as a result. The venue and its suitability will be further enhanced with the additional connectivity that Crossrail will bring when it opens in 2018. A Crossrail station on the doorstep of the ExCeL complex will provide high speed services to central London and from Heathrow in the west.

At the heart of the ICC is a purpose built exhibition hall that will accommodate - in one place and under one roof - an extensive range of exhibition stand options and the ability to create a hub of activity for the duration of the Congress. The inclusion of feature areas, catering, networking lounges, poster display areas and demonstration theatres will ensure that there is a vibrancy throughout the congress venue. The exhibition hall will also provide a comfortable and central environment for peer-to-peer engagement and opportunities for networking and conducting business.

The purpose built exhibition hall at the purpose-built ICC at ExCel in London offers a high degree of versatility to create a central hub around which all activities of a  WTC in London in 2019 will revolve ' style='width:390px;
The purpose built exhibition hall at the purpose-built ICC at ExCel in London offers a high degree of versatility to create a central hub around which all activities of a WTC in London in 2019 will revolve

All activities of a WTC 2019 in London are planned to revolve around the exhibition as its hub. Location of the hall adjacent to the registration area, opposite the main auditorium, and close to session rooms will ensure that attendees will gravitate back to the exhibition area and to the networking areas it will provide. All coffee breaks and the catering for all the lunches are to be located in the exhibition hall, with a programme of social events and receptions providing extra attractions into the exhibition area.

The BTS believes the suitability of the venue and the space being offered is an important strength of the London WTC2019 bid. Creating an environment that promotes and facilitates networking and stakeholder-engagement is regarded by professional delegates and exhibitors as an essential component for deciding to attend the WTC event each year.

“When I attend a World Tunnelling Congress, the accessibility of the destination and the ease of navigating the venue and the exhibition stands are key factors for me”, said Roger Bridge, Chairman of BTS. “I want to be sure that I have the ability to meet my international colleagues in an environment that is conducive for networking and I believe that our offering in London for WTC 2019 does just that.”

BTS submitted a bid in January 2016 to host the World Tunnel Congress (WTC) and the ITA General Assembly in 2019 in London. Chair and Deputy Chair of the WTC2019 bid are Damian McGirr, a past Chairman of the BTS and the UK Member Nation representative at the ITA General Assembly, and Jonathan Baber, Animateur of the ITA Working Group 11 on Immersed and Floating Tunnels.

The vote for the event’s location and host society will be held at the 2016 WTC event in April in San Francisco.


London submits bid for WTC2019 27 Jan 2016

BTS News Release

The British Tunnelling Society (BTS) has submitted its bid to host the World Tunnel Congress and ITA General Assembly in London in 2019, 28 years after it last hosted the event in 1991.

London and the historic River Thames' style='width:448px;
London and the historic River Thames

Citing the UK capital city’s world-class facilities, and the volume of major tunnelling projects that are either in design, construction or scheduled for delivery by 2019 in the case of Crossrail, the steering committee of the bid presented its comprehensive proposal to the Executive Council of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA-AITES) by the deadline of early January 2016. This is well in time for the vote by the 74 ITA Member Nation representatives at the WTC General Assembly in San Francisco in April 2016.

To compete for the coveted annual event, the BTS submitted a proposal of more than 100 pages that describes the many reasons to support London in 2019 as the right time and perfect place for the international gathering of the world tunnelling and underground space engineering community and its global representative association. By 2019, the UK, and the world’s top travel destination of London in particular, will be celebrating the completion of impressive underground projects, the progress of others, and the start of yet more.

Crossrail, one of the largest current infrastructure projects in Europe, will be completed and in service to provide international visitors a 45-minute high-speed ride from Heathrow Airport directly to the International Convention Centre venue of the ExCel exhibition centre. The purpose built ICC of ExCel is itself alongside the London City Airport, the financial district of Canary Wharf, the 2012 London Olympic Park, and the transport services of London Underground stations, the Docklands Light Rail network and the River Thames Clipper bus services.

UK Prime Minister at Crossrail final breakthrough
UK Prime Minister at Crossrail final breakthrough

At the same time, major tunnelling investment for the Thames Tideway CSO project in London will be under way and substantial works of the second high-speed rail link in the UK, from London to Birmingham, will also be progressing.

Other major projects in the pipeline for the UK capital city include the proposed 30km-long underground section of the north-south Crossrail 2; the proposed Silvertown road undercrossing of the Thames using a British record 12.5m EPBM to provide relief to the ageing, and overstretched Blackwall Tunnel; the planned 3.1km twin bore Lower Thames Crossing using a 12.1m TBM to provide traffic relief for the Dartford Tunnel and Elizabeth Bridge to the east of London; and the planned extension to London Underground’s Bakerloo Line.

Also in 2019, the UK and its project collaborator France, will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Channel Tunnel undersea rail link connection; the Institution of Civil Engineers will be celebrating its 200th anniversary; and the Brunel Tunnel will have provided more than 175 years of continuous service under the River Thames at Rotherhithe.

ExCel Exhibition Centre is located on the Crossrail line
ExCel Exhibition Centre is located on the Crossrail line

The UK is recognised as a spiritual home of modern era underground and tunnel engineering, with the Brunel Tunnel being the first subaqueous tunnel through soft ground and using a mechanical shield. From there, British engineers have continued the process of development and innovation, culminating today in the application of state-of-the-art techniques and the introduction of new systems in the fields of robotics, electronics and installations for long-term monitoring of underground structures through their design-life.

This historic and current connection to the tunnelling industry in the UK inspired selection by the BTS of the conference theme “From Pioneering to Modern Possibilities”.

The UK and the BTS has a long connection with the ITA-AITES. It is one of the original founding nations of the Association and Sir Alan Muir Wood, as its first President (1974–77), became its Lifetime Honorary President. The annual Muir Wood Memorial Lecture in the opening session of every WTC is a legacy to Sir Alan’s commitment to the worldwide tunnelling and underground space construction industry.

BTS then nominated and supported two further UK Presidents of the ITA in Colin Kirkland (1989–92) and Martin Knights (2007–10). In addition, BTS members are heavily involved in the ITA Working Groups and the foundation of the ITA Young Members forum. The UK Society remains a champion of the workings of the Association and its future expansion.

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