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A wealth of expertise at the WTC short course

A wealth of expertise at the WTC short course

04 June 2018

The ITACET short course organized within the scope of the World Tunnel Congress has become a tradition over the years and 2018 saw the ninth edition take place in Dubai on 21st and 22nd April 2018.

The aim of these WTC courses, organized by the ITACET Foundation in relation with the host Member Nation, is to provide students and young professionals (but also more experienced engineers) with the chance to benefit from the experience and knowledge of renowned international experts.

The ITA’s Committee on Education and Training is heavily involved in the preparation of these courses, as it is responsible for establishing the programme with the host Member Nation and choosing suitable lecturers, according to the topic in question. The choice of subject matter is adapted to the context and specific issues of the country. Last year’s course in Bergen for example, focused on “Excavation and Support in Soft Ground Conditions”, as hard rock tunnelling projects in Norway regularly experience soft ground in weak zones between the surrounding areas of hard rock.

This year’s course focused on “The Main Opportunities and Technical Issues in Tunnelling”, with the development of sustainable dense urban areas in mind. Sustainability has become a key issue in urban development throughout the world and the use of the underground can not only limit environmental impacts on the surface, but also foster economic growth and meet increasing societal needs. Dubai, which hosted this year’s course, is a perfect example of a rapidly expanding and densely populated city, faced with daily road congestion and frequent air pollution.

The city is striving to develop its underground network, not only to develop more efficient and environmentally friendly transportation means, but also to provide resilience to the sudden and extreme rainfall that it can experience, the consequences of which can be disastrous due to the high levels of groundwater. The future Dubai Deep Tunnel Storm Water System and the 15km extension of the metro system, (with 4km underground) are designed to protect the population from extreme climatic events and help to ease urban traffic congestion.

The 2018 WTC short course was designed to be accessible to participants from the gulf region who are relatively new to the tunnelling world, although the majority of the attendees actually came from neighbouring regions or further afield. In total 18 different nationalities attended the course.

The first day was dedicated to a general introduction to the advantages and main features of tunnelling and underground space use, whilst the second day provided information on more complex technical issues of particular interest in an urban environment and within a sustainable approach.

Fourteen renowned experts from around the globe were chosen by ITA-CET to lecture during the event, all of whom have high profile roles within the International Tunnelling Association, either as Executive Council members, Committee chairpersons or Working Group animateurs.

Topics addressed on the first day began with a look at the advantages and disadvantages of underground space use, with a convincing presentation given by ITA president, Prof. Tarcisio Celestino, looking at the financial, environmental and societal impacts of going underground.

Numerous examples of successful solutions and opportunities missed from around the world were presented by the ITACUS chair and vice chair, Prof. Han Admiraal and Antonia Cornaro. Case studies ranged from underground educational facilities to water collection basins, with a look at the reasons for success or failure in each case. This lecture was followed by a focus on underground sustainable solutions presented by the chair of ITA Working Group 20, Wout Broere.

A variety of stakeholders were present amongst the 35 participants of the course, who were able to benefit from a presentation on the responsibilities of each type, given by Matthias Neuenschwander, Animateur of ITA Working Group 3. Questions such as “Who are the key stakeholders in underground works?”, “What organization is required for a smooth-running project and successful delivery?” and “How should responsibilities be defined and assigned?” were addressed.

Key planning and design issues were presented by the ITA Executive Council Member, Felix Amberg, whilst Prof. Arnold Dix, also an Executive Council member, gave a thought-provoking and entertaining presentation of the legal and compensation issues surrounding underground projects, encouraging interaction with the attendees.

The environmental impacts of tunnel construction in urban areas were presented by Jan Rohde, the Animateur of ITA Working Group 15, whilst Dr. Donald Lamont, Animateur of ITA Working Group 5, stressed the importance of taking into consideration health and safety aspects in underground works.

The second day of the course looked at more complex issues and at the request of the host nation, dealt with several specific topics. Michel Deffayet, ITA-CET Vice Chairman kicked off with a look at the preliminary ground investigations and main parameters to be taken into consideration in an underground project. Prof Robert Galler, ITA-CET chairman then gave the attendees a rundown of the different construction methods and their different fields of application.

Launching a TBM in shallow tunnels can be a particularly tricky procedure and is highly dependent upon the project conditions and the contractor’s experience and skills. Interesting case studies from Japan and new Zealand were presented by Kazuhiko Imakura, who explained the URUP (Ultra Rapid Under Pass) method, which  is a unique method that eliminates shafts by launching and retrieving TBMs at ground level.

Waterproofing issues were addressed by Prof. Daniele Peila, with a look at risk analysis procedures, current practices,  key innovations and relevant case studies, followed by  a look at the   effectiveness   of rockbolting, by Günther Volkmann, which is determined

not only by ground conditions, but also by influencing factors such as the expected failure mechanism or the duration of use.

The general principles of utility tunnels for water, energy and communications were addressed by Han Admiraal and Antonia Cornaro. Felix Amberg and Prof. Robert Galler then added highly specific and innovative examples which are being developed for adiabatic compressed air energy storage.

The course rounded off with two case studies. The first was  focused on underground planning and project management in Singapore and was presented by Dr Jeyatharan Kumarasamy from the Singapore Land Transport Authority. The second focused on operation and asset management of underground space  and was presented by former ITA COSUF Chairman Roland Leucker.

Despite the small number of attendees (35), the feedback from the course has been highly positive. ITA-CET would like to sincerely thank the lecturers all those involved in the course organization. The Committee is already working with the WTC 2019 organizers to prepare next year’s courses in Italy and is looking at how to increase the number of course participants, so that many more young professionals may benefit from such a wealth of expertise.