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When a tunnel is built between two countries there are a lot of benefits for both countries. There will be economical gains as it increases tourism and business for both countries. Both countries will also benefit from a stronger political relationship. Furthermore the social barriers will be broken as people from both countries will be more accustomed to each other's cultures. The success of such a project will also be beneficial on a wider scale as it encourages the rest of the continent to work on similar projects.
The main issues addressed in this report are: a) engineering, b) economical, social, political, and sustainability issues. The three tunnels that will be compared are the Channel tunnel, Frejus Road tunnel and Hsuehshan tunnel. The Channel tunnel and the Frejus Road Tunnel both run through two countries, therefore social and political impacts will be compared. The Channel Tunnel and the Hsuehshan Tunnel are built under water; the engineering difficulties to construct the tunnels will be compared. Also the sustainability of all three tunnels will be compared.
During the construction of the Channel tunnel the biggest problem was the face stability. Despite the efforts to stabilise the tunnel face it became unstable. Therefore to overcome these problem reductions were made. However the problem still persisted which led them to use a two meter rake which was used to form a buttress face that slopes which eventually solved the problem (I.C.D Fugeman).
The Frejus road tunnel is 12.87km long and it connects France and Italy through the Alps it is a two lane road tunnel. The diameter of the tunnel is 7.4m on the French side and the width inside the tunnel is 10m. The purpose of the tunnel was to cut the travelling time between France and Italy through the Alps, the Frejus road tunnel is one of few tunnels which provide a route through the Alps.
The construction of the tunnel took six years construction started in 1974 and it was completed in 1980. The tunnel was constructed by using drill and blast method. The tunnel is used by the general public and it's also used to transport goods from Italy to France and vice versa. Both France and Italy will gain from the Frejus road tunnel as it offers a more cost effective way to transport goods.
During the construction of the Frejus road tunnel the main problem was slope stabilisation. When constructing a tunnel in location with complex environment slope stabilisation is one of the major obstacles in the project. In order to tie the pile retaining wall a DIYWIDAG multistrand anchor was used. The main complication to this process was the specification of the bond lengths. It wasn't possible to determine the bond which would be suitable for the depth of the rock layers before the drilling took place. Therefore the time for the fabrication and installation was cut short to three days. To solve this particular problem all the anchors were prefabricated in a location near the site.
One of the main similarities between the two tunnels is the economical benefits that both projects bring. The Channel tunnel has benefited both France and Britain since it provides a much cheaper means of transporting goods into both countries. The Frejus road tunnel has benefited both France and Italy in similar fashion. Even though it isn't the only tunnel that connects Italy and France the demand for a short journey through the Alps is high.
Another similarity between the websites is the fact that it strengthened the political relations of the countries. The Channel tunnel was the first tunnel to connect Britain and France which was seen as a major landmark in improving political relations. The Frejus road tunnel also shows the continued strength in political relations between France and Italy.
The construction for the Hsuehshan tunnel was contracted to RSEA. For the first time in the history of Taiwan a TBM (Tunnel Boring Machine) was used to construct the tunnel (Wen-Lon, Taiwan Area National Expressway Engineering Bureau). Similar to the Frejus road tunnel a major obstacle for the construction of the tunnel was the difficulty with the geology. Although the geology was exactly the same as the Frejus road tunnel the problems were similar. The tunnel cuts through the Hsuehshan mountain range with the deepest overburden as much as 720m (Wen-Lon, Taiwan Area National Expressway Engineering Bureau). Rock formation is severely fractured and they contain huge reserves of ground water. To overcome the difficulties with the geology a combination of both TBM and D&B (Drill and Blast) methods were used.
During the construction of the tunnel the local communities of both Kent and Nord-pas de Calais were not severely affected. This was due to the fact that both cities were not urbanised at the time which meant that they did not have to be relocated during the construction process (Clement, Rebecca, 2006). However the expected rise in employment did not reach the levels initially expected as only half of the workers employed were from Kent (Patterson, B et al 1992).
The total cost of the construction for the Channel tunnel was expected to be in the region of £4Bn. However the overall cost at the end of the construction eventually rose to £9.5Bn resulting in the project to be over budget by £4.5Bn (Anguera Recard, 2006). Some of the reasons for the project going over budget were as a result of machine failures which caused delays. However the main reasons for the project costing more than double the price initially predicted was the change in legislation on the environmental and safety (Anguera, Recard, 2006).
In Taiwan the Hsuehshan tunnel had a great impact on both the social and economical development of Taiwan. In order to increase the development of East Taiwan it was essential that the travel time was cut down ((Wen-Lon, Taiwan Area National Expressway Engineering Bureau). Therefore the Hsuehshan tunnel was an integral part of the success of Taiwan and it became a government policy (Wen-Lon, Taiwan Area National Expressway Engineering Bureau).
When building large infrastructures such as the Hsuehshan tunnel in the present day and age planning and design work has to be carried out thoroughly. The serviceability of tunnels such as the Hsuehshan tunnel is considered to last over centuries. Therefore some of the design work is carried decades before the completion of the project. In the case of the Hsuehshan tunnel, methods previously used for excavations in Taiwan had to be overlooked in favour of the TBM the environmental implications were considered as part of the selection process (Wen-Lon, Taiwan Area National Expressway Engineering Bureau). Although the environment implications were considered generally it isn't a priority in Taiwan. In a 2005 environmental sustainability table Taiwan were ranked 145th out of 146 countries (Environmental sustainability report, 2005).
On the other hand sustainability and environmental aspects were more significant to both France and Italy. France is ranked 36th in the table and Italy are ranked 69th (Environmental sustainability report, 2005). This indicates that during the construction of the Frejus road tunnel both countries would have tougher legislations than Taiwan. The importance of the environment and sustainability is also influenced by the EU since both France and Italy are members. The fact that five European countries are in the top ten in this table compared to no Asian country shows that there is a difference in behaviour.
The UK is ranked 40th on the sustainability table which indicates that the approach to sustainability issues is similar to France. The Channel tunnel was also subject to tougher environmental requirements compared to the Hsuehshan tunnel. Due to changes in legislation on the environment the total cost increased considerably (Anguera, Recard, 2006). There were a number of measures taken the overall pollution caused when constructing the Channel tunnel. One way of reducing the pollution levels was to restrict the transportation times of materials to the site (Clement, Rebecca, 2006).
Even though the Taiwan ranked remarkably low on the sustainability table in 2005 improvements were made in 2006. The Environment performance index ranks Taiwan in 24th position (Environmental Performance Index, 2006). Although efforts are being made by Taiwan to improve on the environmental measures the table also shows that France, the UK and Italy are all ranked in higher positions (Environmental Performance Index, 2006). Looking at the table assumptions can be made that future constructions of a similar tunnel would be more expensive in Taiwan if they want to improve the environmental policies.