Quality delivered to few at Amsterdam Dec 2011
Armand van Wijck, TunnelTalk European Correspondent
Fire-life safety, risk assessment, sustainability and the latest developments on the Brenner Base Tunnel and Second Coentunnel in The Netherlands were among quality presentations at November's Tunnel Design and Construction Europe conference in Amsterdam.
Site visits organised by the conference to Amsterdam's North/South Metroline and to the Second Coentunnel, an immersed tube highway tunnel under the North Sea Channel, added to the allure of this regional event.

Conference Chairman Martin Knights

Disappointingly for the organisers and presenters, attendance was low with only 34 registered delegates, including the 20 or so speakers.
"I was surprised," said Martin Knights, conference chairman and former President of the ITA (International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association). "The ITA is asked to endorse a certain number of conferences each year and it endeavours to select the most promising for each region."
But make no mistake, despite its low attendance the conference attracted some high quality presentations. "Particularly the one on sustainability in tunnelling. Sustainability is a process we have to look at more and more," said Knights. "The formula of having half day visits, complementary to the conference is also a good thing. It breaks up the day and focuses on stages of construction. At the Second Coentunnel we looked at the concrete shell which is waiting to be equipped with all the fire-life safety equipment."
Ireland projects cancelled
It seems appropriate, during a European tunnelling conference, to consider the effect of the current European financial crisis on the region's tunnelling industry. According to Knights, Global Technical Director of Halcrow, no existing plans have been cancelled so far in cities like London or Berlin, and Scandinavia is doing well. "What you do find is that Portuguese, Spanish and Italian contractors are more active overseas because of the recession in their countries."

Dublin's Interconnector DART project has been cancelled

"The country that has suffered significantly," said Knights, "is Ireland, with the Dublin North Metro Scheme and the Dublin Interconnector designed to connect two railway stations, both cancelled officially in November. It is a great pity, because both are needed to move people around the city. This is the only case I know of a capital city that has cancelled an existing infrastructure project. One of these projects was privately funded, indicating that interest rates for borrowing money in Ireland are too high."
Updates on latest developments within the European tunnelling industry will continue when TunnelTalk reports from the STUVA Tagung conference next week. The Berlin conference attracts more than 1,500 delegates and focuses on underground construction for the protection of climate and a sustainable environment.
References
TBM completes first Amsterdam Metro drive - TunnelTalk, July 2010
Four prequalify for Dublin's DART PPP - TunnelTalk, August 2010
Ireland drops €5.6 billion metro projects - TunnelTalk, Dec 2011
STUVA 2011 Conference December 6-8 - TunnelTalk, Diary Dates
Tunnel Design and Construction Europe – Conference November 2011

           

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