Construction of the Fehmarn Belt Tunnel Commences
The tunnel is set to become the world...
Work on the new 18km-long immersed Fehmarnbelt tunnel, which is set to connect Denmark and Germany, has begun.
The tunnel is set to become the world’s longest immersed tunnel for vehicles and trains and is five times longer than the link under Øresund. It is set to provide many thousands of new jobs in Denmark and North Germany and will enable a greener corridor thanks to fast train links.
Known as the ‘Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link’, the tunnel will consist of a two-lane motorway and rail connection, enabling quicker travel between Scandinavia and continental Europe. The tunnel has shaved an hour and a half off the train travelling time between Hamburg & Copenhagen, meaning the journey will take place in just three hours.
The tunnel is built with health and safety as a top priority, with features such as an intelligent ventilation system in the event of heavy traffic or a fire in addition to emergency exits every 110 metres enabling fast evacuation in the event of an accident. A crash barrier and emergency lane is also part of the design.
Rather than a bored tunnel, an immersed tunnel is constructed using hollow concrete elements and is cast on land and assembled section by section.
The tunnel will host a total of 89 elements made of reinforced concrete and will be manufactured at a Rødbyhavn-based facility.
A trench will be dug under the seabed for the tunnel in order to build the link. It is set to be up to 60 metres wide, with a depth of 16 metres and length of 18km. The excavation material will be used to create new natural areas on both Lolland and Fehmarn.
Upon completion on the trench, work on placing the tunnel elements is able to go ahead. Each element weighs 73,000 tonnes but is able to float in the water as it is sealed with bulkheads and hollow. The elements will be towed out with large tugboats, where they will then be lowered onto the seabed with great precision before the assembly.
Once the tube is in place, the remainder of the tunnel can be constructed. The technical installation includes the implementation of tracks for electric trains, communications systems, lighting ventilation, transformers and pumps. The tunnel has been designed with 10 special elements with a basement for the maintenance machinery required.
These special elements will be located at every two-kilometre point within the tunnel and will include operation and maintenance equipment which is set to enable the tunnel to be maintained efficiently, thus reducing costs in the long run.
The tunnel is set to render a range of benefits for the surrounding area including more tourism, a larger export market and an increased number of opportunities for work and education.
IMAGE CREDIT: Femern.com
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France to invest €1.8bn in Egypt’s infrastructure
France will invest a total of €1.8bn into Egypt’s infrastructure focusing specifically on upgrading the Cairo Metro, building a railway to Sudan, and developing water and energy schemes. Officials have called the investment a “major boost to bilateral cooperation”.
The Cairo Metro
Included in the financing is a concessional government loan of around €800mn to upgrade Line 1 of the Cairo Metro, introduced in the 1980s. The financing will pay for 55 trainsets for the line and is provided by the French engineering company, Alstom.
Line 6 is also due to be upgraded using further state-guaranteed loans worth up to €2bn. Bruno Le Maire said that this would be negotiated over the next six months. France and Egypt have worked in close cooperation ever since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became president in 2014, despite differences over human rights and strong criticism of Egypt by rights activists and some foreign states.
Nine more projects over the next half a decade
A further €1bn from France’s development agency, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), aims to cover a range of other projects over the next half a decade.
These projects include a railway line between Aswan, southern Egypt, and Wadi Halfa in Sudan, as well as several projects in the renewable energy and water purification industries. Bruno Le Maire, France’s Finance Minister, said Egypt was a “strategic partner and commercial dealings with it would be developed. France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans,” he said.
According to Le Maire, the AFD will also €150mn to support the construction of a universal health insurance programme. French contractors such as Vinci and Bouygues have a long history of working on the Egyptian capital’s underground system.
Talking about the relationship between France And Egypt, Le Maire concluded: “France will substantially increase its direct exposure to Egypt, becoming the first counter-party for government to government loans”.