(CNN) — Descending as much as 40 meters beneath the Baltic Sea, the world’s longest immersed tunnel will hyperlink Denmark and Germany, slashing journey occasions between the 2 nations when it opens in 2029.
After greater than a decade of planning, building began on the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel in 2020 and within the months since a short lived harbor has been accomplished on the Danish aspect. It’ll host the manufacturing facility that may quickly construct the 89 large concrete sections that may make up the tunnel.
“The expectation is that the first production line will be ready around the end of the year, or beginning of next year,” mentioned Henrik Vincentsen, CEO of Femern A/S, the state-owned Danish firm accountable for the challenge. “By the beginning of 2024 we have to be ready to immerse the first tunnel element.”
The tunnel, which will likely be 18 kilometers (11.1 miles) lengthy, is one in every of Europe’s largest infrastructure tasks, with a building funds of over 7 billion euros ($7.1 billion).
By the use of comparability, the 50-kilometer (31-mile) Channel Tunnel linking England and France, accomplished in 1993, value the equal of £12 billion ($13.6 billion) in right now’s cash. Though longer than the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel, the Channel Tunnel was made utilizing a boring machine, moderately than by immersing pre-built tunnel sections.
Will probably be constructed throughout the Fehmarn Belt, a strait between the German island of Fehmarn and the Danish island of Lolland, and is designed as an alternative choice to the present ferry service from Rødby and Puttgarden, which carries thousands and thousands of passengers yearly. The place the crossing now takes 45 minutes by ferry, it’s going to take simply seven minutes by prepare and 10 minutes by automobile.
The roof of the primary manufacturing corridor the place the tunnel sections will likely be in-built Denmark was accomplished on June 8, 2022.
The tunnel, whose official identify is Fehmarnbelt Fastened Hyperlink, may also be the longest mixed highway and rail tunnel wherever on this planet. It’ll comprise two double-lane motorways — separated by a service passageway — and two electrified rail tracks.
“Today, if you were to take a train trip from Copenhagen to Hamburg, it would take you around four and a half hours,” says Jens Ole Kaslund, technical director at Femern A/S, the state-owned Danish firm accountable for the challenge. “When the tunnel will be completed, the same journey will take two and a half hours.
“As we speak lots of people fly between the 2 cities, however sooner or later it will likely be higher to simply take the prepare,” he adds. The same trip by car will be around an hour faster than today, taking into account time saved by not lining up for the ferry.
Besides the benefits to passenger trains and cars, the tunnel will have a positive impact on freight trucks and trains, Kaslund says, because it creates a land route between Sweden and Central Europe that will be 160 kilometers shorter than today.
At the moment, traffic between the Scandinavian peninsula and Germany via Denmark can either take the ferry across the Fehmarnbelt or a longer route via bridges between the islands of Zealand, Funen and the Jutland peninsula.
The project dates back to 2008, when Germany and Denmark signed a treaty to build the tunnel. It then took over a decade for the necessary legislation to be passed by both countries and for geotechnical and environmental impact studies to be carried out.
While the process completed smoothly on the Danish side, in Germany a number of organizations — including ferry companies, environmental groups and local municipalities — appealed against the approval of the project over claims of unfair competition or environmental and noise concerns.
Dredging works began off the German coast within the fall of 2021.
Now the temporary harbor on the Danish site is finished, several other phases on the project are underway, including the digging of the actual trench that will host the tunnel, as well as construction of the factory that will build the tunnel sections. Each section will be 217 meters long (roughly half the length of the world’s largest container ship), 42 meters wide and 9 meters tall. Weighing in at 73,000 metric tons each, they will be as heavy as more than 13,000 elephants.
“We may have six manufacturing traces and the manufacturing facility will encompass three halls, with the primary one now 95% full,” says Vincentsen. The sections will be placed just beneath the seabed, about 40 meters below sea level at the deepest point, and moved into place by barges and cranes. Positioning the sections will take roughly three years.
A wider impact
Up to 2,500 people will work directly on the construction project, which has been impacted by the global supply chain woes.
“The availability chain is a problem in the meanwhile, as a result of the worth of metal and different uncooked supplies has elevated. We do get the supplies we want, however it’s troublesome and our contractors have needed to improve the variety of suppliers to verify they will get what they want. That is one of many issues that we’re actually watching proper now, as a result of a gentle provide of uncooked supplies is essential,” says Vincentsen.
Michael Svane of the Confederation of Danish Industry, one of Denmark’s largest business organizations, believes the tunnel will be beneficial to businesses beyond Denmark itself.
This full-scale trial forged of a tunnel component was in-built July 2022.
“The Fehmarnbelt tunnel will create a strategic hall between Scandinavia and Central Europe. The upgraded railway switch means extra freight transferring from highway to rail, supporting a climate-friendly technique of transport. We think about cross-border connections a software for creating progress and jobs not solely regionally, but additionally nationally,” he tells CNN.
While some environmental groups have expressed concerns about the impact of the tunnel on porpoises in the Fehmarn Belt, Michael Løvendal Kruse of the Danish Society for Nature Conservation thinks the project will have environmental benefits.
“As a part of the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel, new pure areas and stone reefs on the Danish and German sides will likely be created. Nature wants area and there will likely be more room for nature in consequence,” he says.
“However the largest benefit would be the profit for the local weather. Quicker passage of the Belt will make trains a robust challenger for air visitors, and cargo on electrical trains is by far the very best resolution for the setting.”