FA Underground Construction

The future of underground construction in Europe

FA Underground Construction

The creation of underground space has significant impact on quality of life, working conditions, the employment and the environment. Innovative use of underground space will have a great impact. European Union policies include an upgrading of the Trans European road network (TREN), in order to improve interstate transport. This implies the construction of a significant number of tunnels (approx. 2100 km of tunnels will have to be constructed in Europe by the year 2030).

Underground construction operates in a very competitive international environment. For example, countries such as Korea and Japan have learned from European experience and are investing significant research funds in innovative technology, in order to take a leading role in the world. If the European industry sits back and allows this to happen, then its competitiveness will be lost and the economic damage would be substantial. European construction will have a real chance of being competitive only if all available research clusters in Europe are brought together to create a critical mass and so achieve a breakthrough in the application of innovative technology.

As a consequence of the work proposed, underground construction will be more costeffective, safer and more environmentally friendly. The consequence of this will be that underground space will be increasingly used to alleviate pressing problems that will confront the European society in the next 20 years: Traffic congestion (freight transport is expected to increase by 60% from 2004 to 2020), increasing urbanization (mega cities), lack of space and pollution of air and water. In addition, European industry will be more competitive in the world market.

FA Underground Construction

The use of underground space will significantly contribute to resolve societal and ecological problems in the future. Underground construction will be more economic than building on the surface, especially in highly congested urban areas, where the cost of real estate will be prohibitive, or simply getting land rights will be not possible.

Some challenges have to faced

  • The increased effectiveness of the equipment, machinery and processes for excavation.
  • The extensive use of the ICT in order to highly automate the processes.
  • The use of new materials performance based.
  • The utilisation of more environment friendly techniques.
  • The increased interest in the design of utilities with an easy use for everybody.
  • A better knowledge about the behaviour of underground infrastructures in order to do an improved use and maintenance of them.
If you are interested in participating or if you want more information, please contact Mr Claude Dumoulin from Bouygues Construction and Mr Norbert Pralle from Zueblin who are leading this Focus Area.