Celebrating National Tunnelling Day

1 December 2016
Thursday 1st December marks the UK’s National Tunnels Day, organised by the British Tunnelling Society Young Members. It’s a day to celebrate great tunnelling projects in the UK and around the world.
Nordhavnen Metro extension

Nordhavnen Metro extension

Just last week we enjoyed being at the launch of the Swedish Tunneling Committee’s ‘young members group’ and today we enjoy reflecting on some of our most favourite tunnelling projects as well as well as picking the brains of some of our leading tunnel experts.

Some of our favourite tunnelling projects include:

Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link

We love this project. It will be the world’s longest road and rail tunnel and is a study in innovative thinking. It challenges existing tunnel building standards and improves functionality through its pioneering longitudinal ventilation system and state-of-the-art safety and security features. The fixed immersed tunnel link across the Fehmarnbelt will be more than 18 km long and carry a four-lane motorway alongside a twin track-electrified railway. When complete it will be more than three times the length of the Trans-Bay Tube Bart Tunnel in San Francisco in California, the current world record holder. In close collaboration with TEC and Arup, we are advising Fehmarn A/S on the design of the immersed tunnel solution. More

Gibraltar Airport

Gibraltar Airport is known as one of the most unique and dangerous airports in the world. This is largely due to the fact that the only road connecting Gibraltar with mainland Spain cuts across the runway, resulting in the road closing more than 15 times a day to allow aircraft to pass. Ramboll’s engineers recommended constructing a new 2.3km dual carriageway road around the airfield’s eastern side with the scheme including a tunnel to carry vehicles under the Gibraltar Airport runway, a subway to carry pedestrians and cyclists under the runway, approach ramps to the tunnel and two footbridges to accommodate a new pedestrian/cyclist route together with all associated mechanical and electrical installations, drainage, street lighting and connections to and adjustment of existing infrastructure. As featured on The Discovery Channels’ ‘Interesting Engineering’ programme! More

Hyperloop in Finland

In case you haven’t heard of it, Hyperloop is the futuristic transport system that works by propelling pods through a large tube at speeds of 750 mph using magnets. Hyperloop One – the company developing the super-speed transport system thought up by Elon Musk – has signed a letter of intent with the governments of Finland and the Netherlands to look into building networks there and Ramboll is delighted to be involved in its development in Finland. The agreement with Finland will involve exploring a transport system for the Nordic region. Initially it will be from Helsinki to Stockholm in Sweden. And the two parties will also look at connecting the Aland Islands. The letter of intent will involve Hyperloop One exploring the viability of the project in each country. More

Nordhavn Metro Extension

Nordhavn is Scandinavia's largest and most ambitious city development project with an overriding vision to become the sustainable city of the future. It also includes the largest road construction project in Copnehagen for 50 years. In a joint venture with Arup and architectural firm COBE as sub-consultant, we are the planning advisor for the Nordhavnen Metro extension. It comprises a 3 km track with two new stations. A twin track metro branches off from Cityringen and leads to Nordhavnen. From the bifurcation at Sortedams Sø, the metro will be in 1900m long bored tunnels passing the underground station at Nordhavnen which will be connected via a tunnel connection to the existing Nordhavnen S-train station. The team's work scope includes the design of tunnels and rail systems as well as an underground and overground station. More

Green Line Metro

Doha has ambitious plans to develop a railway based public transport system. As part of this Ramboll has been appointed as the Design Verification Engineer on the Green Line. The Green Line consists of 52km of track, including six stations, two switch boxes and additional structures such as evacuation shafts. The project also consists of 16.6km of twin-bored tunnels built at a depth of 20 meters. The line spans from Msheireb (Central Station) through to Education City and on to Al Rayyan and in total approximately 18.5km of track will run underground. The design verification works are multidisciplinary with Ramboll providing design services for tunnelling, deep excavations and temporary works, structural engineering, architecture, and MEP. More

Holmestrand Station

Ramboll worked on Holmestrand Station, the world’s first mountain station. The development includes a new fourteen kilometer double track through the city of Holmestrand, with most of the track running through the tunnel. The Holmestrand station is located in a mountain entrance hall, combined with several access tunnels. The entrance hall was designed to allow high speed trains to pass in 250 km/hour, requiring special emphasis on managing air pressure, noise and wind speed. Managing the ground water and securing a tight tunnel are also critically important as both the tunnels and the station are located under urban areas on the Holmestrand plateau. More

Here’s what Richard Miller who leads of UK tunnel team has to say about being a tunnel engineer:

Q) Why did you go into tunnel engineering?
A) Like many children growing up I was fascinated with watching excavators dig holes in the ground. This interest developed into the design of ever bigger and more complex holes in the ground through a university degree in Geotechnical Engineering and a career in Ground Engineering and Tunnelling. For me tunnelling provides the perfect mix of the practical and the theoretical: using complex analysis alongside common sense to build complex structures in challenging conditions.

Q) What is your favourite tunnel project and why?
A) Moscow Metro will always be special for me. SCL tunnelling was not commonly used in Moscow and not recognised by the approving authorities. We were appointed by a tunnelling contractor working on the extension of the Moscow Metro to assist them in validating SCL tunnelling for use throughout the extension of the metro. Despite challenging ground and groundwater conditions we guided our client and the approving authority through the design, verification testing and construction of a 100m long SCL tunnel to facilitate the assembly and launching of a roof mounted Tunnel Support Machine. The tunnel was complete and approval granted resulting in significant cost and programme savings in relation to traditional Russian tunnelling methods using segmental cast iron linings.

Q) What new trends/approaches/techniques/innovations in tunnel engineering excite you and why?
A) As our cities and infrastructure networks become more congested the importance of tunnels and their role in the efficient utilisation of underground space is becoming ever more important. This should see a continued growth of the tunnelling market and as the complexity of the problems we are faced with increases the boundaries of the current design and construction techniques we utilise to provide the solutions are continually being pushed driving innovation in the industry.

Q) Why should someone pursue a career in tunnel engineering?
A) Tunnels can often provide a remarkably simple solution to otherwise complicated problems and as such a career in tunnelling provides an opportunity to make a lasting contribution to the world we live in and how we live in it. It is particularly satisfying to walk into a tube station or drive through a tunnel and see the solutions you have conceived, designed and constructed being implemented knowing that you were part of creating that.

Long heritage in tunnels:

Ramboll has a long heritage in undertaking some of the world’s biggest and most challenging tunnelling projects. You can find out more here.

If you are looking for opportunities to join our busy tunnelling team, please contact richard.miller@ramboll.co.uk.

Related projects

Engineers discussing the Fehmarnbelt tunnel

Fehmarn: The world's longest road/rail tunnel

In the future Scandinavia and the rest of Europe will be connected by the world's longest road and rail tunnel.

Crossing the runway at Winston Churchill Avenue, Gibraltar. Image: Cpl Scott Robertson RAF Command Photographer British Forces Gibraltar

Gibraltar Access Road and Tunnel

Ramboll produced an outline strategic brief to improve access between the city centre and airport, adjacent to the frontier with Spain. The objective, to provide for a free flow of traffic; currently interrupted by airfield operations where 600m of existing road crosses the runway.

Orientkaj Station will be one of the new metro stations in Nordhavnen

Nordhavn Metro Extension

Ramboll, in a joint venture with Arup and with architectural firm COBE as sub-consultant, is the planning advisor for the Nordhavnen Metro extension in central Copenhagen.

Ramboll has been appointed by PORR, Saudi Binladin and HBK JV for the the provision of Design Verification Engineer (DVE) services for the design of Green Line Underground.

Doha Metro Green Line Underground

As part of an ambitious plan to develop a railway based public transport in Doha, Qatar Railways Rail has appointed a Joint Venture comprising PORR, the Saudi Binladin Group and HBK Contracting for the design and construction of Green Line Underground.


Holmestrand – The world’s first mountain station

A new fourteen kilometers double track through the city of Holmestrand will greatly improve the rail services on the Vestfold line. Rambøll is responsible for the design of seven kilometers of the line and Holmestrand Statio


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