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Old October 1st, 2006, 07:35 PM   #1
atlaslion
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Tunnel between Africa and Europe

September 30, 2006 - 12:54 PM
Swiss plan tunnel under Strait of Gibraltar

The Swiss Lombardi engineering firm has won the contract to design a railway tunnel between Europe and Africa running under the Strait of Gibraltar.

The company, one of 14 competing for the job, has one year to draw up the plans for one of the most complex projects of its kind ever, on the cards for over a quarter of a century.

A Spanish-Moroccan committee has been considering various options since 1980, not surprising since the difficulties faced by potential builders are a huge challenge. It was only in 2004 that the two countries' governments decided to go ahead.

A bridge was ruled out because of the depth of the strait. It would be impossible to build supporting pillars in 300 metres of water.

A floating bridge was also not an option because of the number of ships passing through the Gibraltar bottleneck. An underwater tunnel made out of prefabricated elements was considered unfeasible as well as the sea bottom is unstable and currents too strong.

If the project goes ahead, it will be a close cousin of the Eurotunnel that runs under the Channel between France and Britain. Running at depths of up to 600 metres, it will connect Tarifa in Spain to Tangiers in Morocco.

Giovanni Lombardi, the 80-year-old head of the engineering firm, says the planned 40-kilometre tunnel is not the shortest way of connecting the two continents, but simply the best. He adds though that it is just feasible.

Planning for the project will be difficult. Just figuring out the configuration of the seabed will be a challenge.

Ships sent out to prospect its geology had to give up after a week's work as they were unable to stay in a stable position because of the strong currents washing through the strait.

Public backing

Two publicly owned companies in Spain and Morocco are financing the project. Lombardi reckons it will cost up to ?5 billion (SFr7.9 billion) to complete it, but cannot be more precise at this stage.

Preliminary studies should be finished by 2008. A 4.8:metre:wide service tunnel will be built first.

This tube should help the engineers figure how much water might leak into the tunnel. "In the old Gotthard rail tunnel under the Alps, 200 litres of water filter through every second," said Lombardi.

The pressure on the tunnel will be huge, approximately 500 tons per square metre, so powerful pumps will be needed to avoid it filling up with water.

Another problem is the risk of earthquakes in an active seismological zone. In 1755, an earthquake caused huge damage in the area and killed 50,000 people in the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

Comparatively speaking, building the Eurotunnel was much easier reckons Lombardi, who also worked on the Channel project. "Eurotunnel didn't go as deep, water pressure was lower and the rock was more solid," he added.

The Gibraltar project is Lombardi's biggest challenge so far, but he is confident he can overcome all the obstacles in his path. "If you aren't optimistic, you never achieve anything," he said.

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Old October 2nd, 2006, 12:01 PM   #2
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this will never be built..... only EUR 5bn???? ...nooo way. This would cost EUR 10-15bn at least. Plus, where is the benefit? How is it gonna pay off?....I find it hard to believe to run a tunnel between Spain and Morocco profitably, if this feat can't even be achieved with a tunnel between France and England (where there is heaps much traffic and trade going on than in the former case).

Anyhow, I don't believe a word of this story. It's a nice dream/idea though....
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Old October 2nd, 2006, 12:10 PM   #3
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Agree with Tricky, no way this tunnel is going to be profitable.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 07:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lpioe View Post
Agree with Tricky, no way this tunnel is going to be profitable.
why not? Every year there are 4 milion moroccan expats crossing to there native country. And there are a lot of tourists going to morocco.
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Old October 3rd, 2006, 08:35 PM   #5
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yes, why not? do you think a bridge is cheaper??
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Old October 4th, 2006, 03:01 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tricky View Post
this will never be built..... only EUR 5bn???? ...nooo way. This would cost EUR 10-15bn at least.
US$10Bn is the quoted cost for the bridge. The tunnel was given the go-ahead because it is half the price.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 01:14 AM   #7
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Wrong section, and I can't see it being built
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Old October 5th, 2006, 02:51 AM   #8
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This project is NEVER going to see the light of day!
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Old October 5th, 2006, 03:23 AM   #9
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That's because it's a tunnel and it's underground
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Old October 5th, 2006, 05:00 AM   #10
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i say best of luck to this. always nice to hear of another "imposible" project in the works
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Old October 5th, 2006, 05:08 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KJBrissy View Post
That's because it's a tunnel and it's underground

Hehe... very clever...

I ma very much in favour and i hope it gets in the ground.
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Old October 5th, 2006, 08:34 PM   #12
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Here you are 2 diferente proposals of unions between Africa and Europe:

Floating tunnel

Underwater tunnel
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Old October 8th, 2006, 03:28 PM   #13
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This project is going to be a financial disaster. It will never be viable until Moroccans are granted visa waiver travel to spain and the schengen areas. It is safe to assume that the majority of Moroccans dont stand a realistic chance of getting a spain or schengen visa. Moroccans are highly unlikely to be granted visa waiver travel to spain in the short term and that will result in the tunnel not being able to attain the amount of traffic that makes it profitable. Furthermore, xenophobic politicians in spain will have a field day exploiting this issue as well since many Spainards certainly do not appreciate Africans flooding their country
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Old October 8th, 2006, 06:37 PM   #14
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I can't see this being built either. Is anyone worried about increased illegral immigration because of this?
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Old October 8th, 2006, 07:19 PM   #15
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no, i think there will be many safety precautions.
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Old October 11th, 2006, 01:38 AM   #16
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Nooooo... I hate these tunnels. We have tons of them... You spend billions on a megastructure and when it's done, nobody can see it, 'cause it's underground.

I wanted that crossing to be a symbolic and recognizable wonder of the world, not a black hole to toss money down.

Ah, well... the world will probably end before this project gets real, anyway.
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Old October 22nd, 2006, 12:15 AM   #17
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Other threads about this subject:

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=350740

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=171588 (in spanish)

http://www.tranvia.org/modules.php?o...orum=3&start=0 (in spanish, too)

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Old October 22nd, 2006, 12:17 AM   #18
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The illegal immigrants would have a field day...
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Old October 22nd, 2006, 04:12 AM   #19
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Why hasn't this been moved to the appropriate subforum yet?
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Old October 22nd, 2006, 04:32 AM   #20
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The level of Carbon Dioxide in the long tunnel will be so immense that it makes this project unsafe and impossible to build.
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