Five organisations with projects involving tunnels were finalists in the latest Year in Infrastructure and Going Digital Awards, from Bentley Systems.

Infrastructure includes a broad selection of sectors and perhaps category groupings are inevitable – there were 12 categories in the latest round of the YII awards, in November 2022.

Instead, projects using digital engineering to help plan and build significant, deeper underground works were mostly up against the BIM approaches undertaken by arrays of other types of infrastructure sectors, grouped into broad categories, such as: Construction; Rail & Transit; Bridges & Tunnels; and, Structural Engineering.

The organisations and their projects involving tunnels that were finalists are:

  • Construction: China Railway 18th Bureau Group, for use of BIM on the deep water transmission tunnel in Pearl River Delta located in Foshan, Guangdong province, China
  • Rail & Transit: Oriental Consultants Global, for use of BIM on Phase 1 of Manila metro, in The Philippines
  • Bridges & Tunnels: both projects were located in Sichuan province, China, and are – 1) Southwest Municipal Engineering Design & Research Institute of China, for use of BIM in the 2nd section of the East- West city transport axis for Chengdu; and, 2) Zigong Urban Planning and Design Institute, for BIM works on an integration zone to have Zigong city linked more to Chengdu and Chongqing.
  • Structural Engineering: Delhi Metro Rail Corp, for BIM to design and build the Krishna Park underground station and associated tunnels on the Phase 4 extension to Delhi’s metro network.


China Railway 18th Bureau Group is responsible for building a water conveyance tunnel, located 70m underground with a total line length of 5.6km as part of a much longer transfer system in the Pearl River Delta Water Resources Allocation project, in Guangdong. It is the province’s largest water conservancy investment and is to improve security and capacity of water supplies.

The Pearl River Delta project was a finalist in the YII 2022 Awards category of ‘Construction’.

The double-line conveyance tunnel is designed to transfer 80m3/s of water. The tunnel is 6m o.d. with a 4.8m i.d., in the form of a combined lined steel pipe.

The project has complex topography and geology, which presented multiple technical, interface, and safety challenges that led the team to focus on digital modelling to integrate the different aspects. China Railway 18th Bureau Group said, in its award entry, that a combination of BIM and GIS technologies were used, the software systems including ContextCapture, LumenRT, MicroStation, OpenBuildings, OpenRoads, PLAXIS and SYNCHRO.

China Railway 18th Bureau Group established a connected data environment to create a full lifecycle digital management platform, which, it says, improved collaboration efficiencies by nearly 50%. Helped also by using digital workflows and construction simulations to optimise planning and organisation, the approach saved on time and cost.


Oriental Consultants Global was a finalist in the YII 2022 Award’s Rail & Transit category for its digital modelling work on Phase 1 of Manila metro.

The project, formally known as Metro Manila Subway Project (MMSP) – Phase 1, is being developed by The Philippines’ Department of Transportation. Works include tunnels and 13 underground stations as Phase 1 of the MMSP traverses six cities.

In its project description, Oriental Consultants said the scale of the project presented communication and coordination challenges that current applications could not successfully address. A collaborative BIM environment was created to overcome the problem by establishing workflows, proactive risk management and enabling cost monitoring.

The project team used ProjectWise and ComplyPro along with other software systems (iTwin, PLAXIS, SYNCHRO) to develop a common digital engineering system and a single source of truth, enabling real-time data sharing. Oriental Consultants reported that the collaborative system helped to save 5000 resource hours within the project’s first six months, resolved clashes, eliminated rework and so reduced time and cost.


The two finalists in the Bridges & Tunnels category of the YII 2022 Awards were in the area of Chengdu – one in the city itself, the other in neighbouring Zigong but which is part of an expanding economic zone with Chengdu and Chongqing.

Chengdu’s East-West city axis

Southwest Municipal Engineering Design & Research Institute of China (SMEDRI) uses digital modelling and BIM systems for the second section of the East-West city transport axis in Chengdu, a route linking to Chongqing.

The project section is an 11km-long road with interchanges, bridges, and tunnels. SMEDRI set up collaborative digital workflows for planning and construction, and used software such as OpenBridge, OpenRoads and LumenRT. The approach resolved clashes, shortened the design cycle by 20%, and so saved costs.

Zigong – Integration Belt to Chengdu-Chongqing

Zigong Urban Planning and Design Institute (ZUPDI) undertook BIM modelling for Sections C & D of a zone between Fushun and Rong counties, in Zigong. The works are helping to link the city to the Chengdu- Chongqing economic zone.

The project had land requisition difficulties, complicated traffic control, and complex underground pipeline systems in the area involving 140km of main roads with some tunnels and also underground pipe networks.

ZUPDI created data environment and digital construction management that improved both control and design quality and so reduced risks, time and cost. It is also a pilot for digital archiving in municipal engineering in China.


BIM work done by Delhi Metro Rail Corp for its Krishna Park underground station and associated tunnels, on the 62km-long Phase 4 extension to the city’s metro network, was a finalist in the YII’s Structural Engineering category.

The digital modelling work included the structural design and construction of twin bore tunnels. In its competition briefing, Delhi Metro Rail Corp said the approach saved 1000 resource hours and costs.

For the works, located in an urban area and with geology comprising alluvial ground conditions, Delhi Metro Rail Corp developed an integrated BIM approach for the structural and geotechnical challenges.

The BIM approach for the project used PLAXIS and STAAD software and streamlined workflows, helping with clash detection and real-time model modifications prior to site work, and reduced the quantities of concrete and steel rebar necessary for the structures.