Global infrastructure project management


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                    In this document we will briefly discuss the preparation phases and the risks involved in the Gotthard tunnel, the toughest and longest tunnel in the world which is constructed under the Alps in Switzerland.

                         The tunnel is planned to a length of 56 km (35 miles) which links the North and South of Europe. It engages one of the toughest, technical, skilled labours and equipments in the whole planet. The project cost is as high as $ 7 billion. Now let us discuss all the different stages and risks involved in this massive project.


                              On an average nearly 13 to 14 million vehicles per year come in and move out of Switzerland, the key objective of this project is to reduce traffic congestion and this will be achieved if people make it a point to board transit systems like these.


The various stages involved in this project are explained as follows.

1. In the first stage the project team must take into account of the fact that Switzerland is the most congested and fully loaded country in terms of traffic because it marks the central Europe. Therefore the team must plan a diversion route for the traffic in order to avoid additional congestion due to this project.

2. The second step is the team must come out with a strict and proper schedule.

3. Next, the main fact here is that the tunnel is under a mountain, so huge volumes of rocks are to be excavated as huge as 24 million tonnes. So all the equipments and materials engaged must be subjected to rigorous and hard testing and must be able to match for all kinds of situations, otherwise it might delay the project schedule and may incur severe loss.

4. The tunnel must be designed in order that it lasts at least for a century. So all the materials put in must be of high durability and quality. In short the following are needed from around the world. High quality materials, skilled technicians and engineers, High tech testing laboratories and equipments that match all different situations.

5. The next phase is the crucial one that creates an impact on all the main parameters, it's the design phase. The team must propose the most economical and less time consuming design so that it will not force a heavy impact on all other factors. In this project it seems that the 3-tube system is risk free but is expensive, so the crew has put forward the 2-tube system which is both risks free and economical.

6. In the 2-tube system there are two separate tunnels for trains, an intermediate cross way for trains, passage ways at every 1000 ft and a separate exit duct for passengers to escape in case of emergency. So in order to implement such a huge design you need large quantity of materials, equipments and skilled labours who work 24 x 7 for 12 years.

7. After the design is approved and when execution phase starts, the problem here is engineers have planned to move from both sides north and south. Therefore they have to use GPS systems to plot 5 places (3 intermediate pts, North and South pts) and then join them. They also have to engage 4 GPS satellites in geosynchronous orbits to assist them with the exact co-ordinates (Latitude, Longitude and Altitude).

8. Base caps are to be installed at all 5 stations which should contain concrete batching plant, water treatment plant, living quarters for labours, cafeteria and a mass transit system. The water coming out must be recycled and the rock debris of 24 million tonnes must be also be recycled and added as a supplement for the 7.50 million tonnes of concrete needed to build the tunnel. Access tunnels are also to be built.

9. The Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) has 58 cutters which are to be specially designed and made with proper care in order to drill for 6 years. Unfortunately the project will need 6 of those drillers to execute this project.

10. In the final phase the boring machine drills and it sprays a layer of shotcrete over it, the rock debris is then sent for recycling, then a thick layer of concrete lining is given and another coating is given to make the tunnel water proof. This process is repeated until the entire project is completed. After which all safety issues are dealt and then installed.


The various risks involved in this project and the impacts are discussed as follows.

1. The delay in project ahead of the schedule will lead to bankruptcy due to unforeseen conditions.

2. If the materials and technical labour does not match the scope, it may lead to delay which in turn incur loss that cannot be compensated.

3. The outcome of this project must cause minimal environmental impact.

4. Water and fire are the key risks. While drilling soft rocks the crew can encounter water inflow problems from the rock, if there exists such a condition the cost for rehabilitation would take another $ 600 million and would divert the project off track by 6 months.

5. In case of fire the damage is even more serious, fire accidents can cause fatal death and will melt the concrete layers causing loss to the project.

6. Since the location is deep below a mountain, inside there is lack of oxygen and light. People may even sometimes hit by vehicles in the mere darkness.

7. When plotting coordinates via GPS even if they miss 6 inches they will have to re-construct which adds another big expense to the project.

8. Transporting the TBM machine will take 3 months and is another risky factor, if delayed will push the project of its normal track.


                    This essay has therefore clearly listed all the preparation and risks phases involved in a massive project like the Gotthard tunnel under the Alps.

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