Southern Europe and the Mediterranean have suffered worse than most in the wake of the global recession. Hefty mobilisation of Chinese resources has seen ‘debt purchasing’ of Spainish bonds since the implosion of the housing boom, while Stricken countries like Greece and Italy provide ammunition for Eurozone skeptics clamouring to be the first to deliver a crushing ‘I told you so’.

Not everything is so bleak, however as the tunnelling industry endures and there are still a great many projects ongoing in Europe. Notable among these are the Italian metro projects (see also page 26) and the impressive Marmaray crossing under the Bosphorus. Even projects that some consider ‘pie in the sky’ refuse to finally keel over—the world-beating Sicily to Tunisia tunnel and the crossing under the Straits of Gibraltar still have supporters crowding around the drawing boards.

1) Vitoria – Bilbao – San Sebastian rail tunnel
The USD 1.7bn Vitoria – Bilbao – San Sebastian rail tunnel project in the Basque region of Spain requires the construction of a series of tunnels. The longest, the Albertia tunnel runs for 4.8km, the Udalaitz tunnel at 3.2km, the Zaratamo at 2.7km, the Induspe at 2.3km, the Galdakao at 1.8km, the Ganzelai at 1.4km and the Luko at 970m. EPC was awarded to Tecsa and Altuna y Uria.

2) Mont d’Ambin Base Tunnel
This France-Italy rail tunnel will be one of the longest in the world, measuring at 51km, when it is completed. The French and Italian governments, as well as the European Union are providing the funding for this USD 9.5bn project.

3) Milan metro
The USD 3.5bn Milan metro extension project will feature tunnels on lines 1 to 6, with two on line 3. The approx. 30km of tunnels will be excavated by TBM by EPC contractor, Azienda Trasporto Milanese. The client is Azienda Trasporto Milanese.

4) Naples metro
The Naples metro is smaller than that in Milan. Requiring only two tunnels totaling 19.2km the cost is around USD 2bn. The client is the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport.

5) Rome metro
Metro expansion in Rome is also on behalf of the client; Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport. A total of six TBMs are in use in the Eternal City and funding is shared between the Government of Italy, the City of Rome and the Lazio region.

6) Sparvo tunnel
Herrenknecht have constructed the world’s largest TBM to date, at 15.62m, for the contractor, a JV of Vianini Lavori, Toto Construzioni Generali and Profactahas. The 2.5km tunnel will cost USD 432M and will form part of the A1 highway link between Florence and Bologna. Excavation will commence in May, finishing at the end of 2013.

7) Markovec Tunnel
In Slovenia the Markovec tunnel project is underway and should be finished in 2013. The USD 95M project for the construction of a 2.1km tunnel also requires extensive safety equipment, including microwave vehicle detectors.

8) Athens metro extensions
Current projections suggest that work on the Athens metro line extensions should be completed by 2016. Specialist, stateowned metro construction company Attiko Metro is carrying out work.

9) Suez Canal tunnel
The proposed Suez Canal tunnel in Port Said, Egypt, will feature two car passages and one rail. Put to consultants by the Egyptian Ministry of Transport, it is designed to be 19km and will reduce congestion in the port by providing an alternative to an existing route. Cost projections have hit USD 1bn.

10) Strait of Gibraltar crossing
A dream of many years, the tunnel to link the Pillars of Hercules would be a connection between high-speed rail networks in Morocco and Spain. The double-tracked railway tunnel would run for 39km with 29km under the sea. Projected costs of around USD 14.7bn would be met by the governments of Spain and Morocco.

11) Marmaray Project
The Marmaray Project, which spans two continents and links the west and east sides of Istanbul, will be capable of carrying 70,000 passengers per hour across the Bosphorus Straight. Costing around USD 3.5bn in total, the 13.6km of tunnels include a 1.4km immersed tube, which required special engineering for deep-sea pressures put on the segment seals.

12) Sicily to Tunisia crossing
This is the largest project on the map. Another tunnel of dreams etched out on the drawing board. This USD 28bn project would, if ever constructed, become by far the longest rail tunnel in the world at 155km, smashing the Gotthard Base Tunnel by around 100km. It also envisages the construction of four artificial islands along the route. Tourism is also intended to partially fund the project. The Government of Italy is the planning authority.

13) Barcelona metro
A JV of FCC and Dragaos is constructing line 9 of the Barcelona metro project using TBMs ranging from 9.4 to 12m in diameter, each individually adapted to suit the aggregate geology in their respective tunnel sections.

14) Prado Sud tunnel
The USD 283M, 1.5km Prado Sud tunnel in Marseille will form an extension of the Prado Carenage tunnel. The tunnel is being excavated by a 60/40 partnership of Vinci and Eiffage.

15) Mostoles to Navalcarnero rail line tunnels
This project in the west of Madrid involves the construction of two tunnels each of 3.8km. It costs USD 325M and TBM excavation is underway. This environmentally conscious undertaking will reduce noise and air pollution as well as cutting congestion.

16) Thessaloniki Metro : Line I tunnel
Some 9.6km of automatic rapid transit network lines are to be built in the northeast of Greece. This futuristic project will cost around USD 1.5bn and will be constructed using an EPB shield, as well as cut and cover for some sections. The EIB has identified the project as one that will improve quality of life in the region and has partially funded it.

17) Mavi Blue Tunnel
This Turkish tunnel project commissioned by the General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works will boost drinking water and irrigation capacity in the Konya province. The 18km, 4.88m diameter tunnel will be completed by the end of 2012.

18) Second Bosphorus crossing
The smaller of Istanbul’s two Bosphorus projects – the larger being the Marmaray – the crossing will, all told, take 30 years to complete, of which less than five will be spent on construction. The project is valued at USD 1.2bn.

19) Algiers Metro
The second extension project of Algiers Metro Line 1 is part of an extensive investment program by the Algerian government. The 3km, NATM-constructed tunnel has a combined cost of 120M with the bridge that is also required.

20) Cairo metro
The 34km of metro for the Cairo line 3 will be finished in 2013. Requiring 25 underground stations to be constructed by contractors including Oci, Arab Contractors, Vinci and Bouygues. Cost is projected at around USD 3.7bn.

21) High-speed Jerusalem-Tel Aviv rail link
This long awaited replacement for the Jaffa-Jerusalem snail rail began design work in 2000 and is currently in its third stage of construction. Amy-metom is prime engineer on this predominantly tunneled stage, with 36km of underground works.

22) Gurpinar Wastewater Tunnel
One of several new wastewater tunnel projects in Istanbul. This USD 645M project to build a 5.3km tunnel is the longest. It also requires automatic fire and ventilation systems. The presence of Lovat technicians was required for the initial drive.

23) Pointe Pescade Collector, Stage 3
In the northern-central part of Algiers, a micro-tunnelling project to install an almost 3km new sewer by pipejacking is underway. Tunnelling has yet to begin. Denys is the microtunnelling contractor.

24) Egnatia Odos tunnels
The EUR 6.77bn (USD 9.03bn) Egnatia Odos, which translates as Roman Road, is an ambitious motorway of approximately 670km. Requiring a total of 76 tunnels with a total length of around 100km to connect the two coasts of northern Greece.

25) Souk Al Juma Utilitites Package
This USD 400M project in Tripoli, Libya to improve the city’s sewers will be constructed using a combination of TBM and drill and blast techniques.