Some best world records in tunnelling
Most tunnel boring machines operating simultaneously in a single project
The most tunnel boring machines operating simultaneously in a single project is 20 and was achieved by Qatar Rail (Qatar), in Doha, Qatar, on 22 August 2015. The attempt was part of the 113 km metro line project in Qatar.
Longest rail tunnel
The longest rail tunnel is the Gotthard Rail Tunnel, at a length of 57 km (35.42 mi), running between Göschenen with Airolo in Switzerland, and opened on 1 June 2016. The tunnel's excavation was completed on 15 October 2010, when engineers working 2,000 m (6,561.67 ft) beneath the Swiss Alps drilled through the last remaining rock. The tunnel is anticipated to accommodate up to 300 trains per day.
Highest tunnel-to-tunnel bridge
The highest tunnel-to-tunnel bridge is the Aizhai Bridge, with a deck height of 336 m (1,102 ft) above the DeHang Canyon. The suspension bridge has a tower-to-tower main span of 1,176 m (3,858 ft) and a total length of 1,534 m (5,033 ft). Located near Jishou, Hunan, China, it is part of the Jishou-to-Chadong expressway and opened to traffic in 2012.
Longest road tunnel
The tunnel between Aurland and Lærdal on the main road between Bergen and Oslo, Norway, measures 24.5 km. (15.2 miles) in length. The two-lane Lærdal Tunnel was ceremoniously opened by King Harald on November 27, 2000, and opened to the public in 2001. It cost a reported $113.1 million to construct
Most expensive rail tunnel
The “Chunnel” rail link underneath the Channel sea between the UK and France was opened in 1994 at a total cost of around UK£12 billion including train stock. The link’s 50-km (31-mile) tunnel consists of two 7.6-metrediameter (25-ft) rail tunnels with a 4.8-metre-diameter (16-ft) service tunnel in between.
Longest water supply tunnel
The longest tunnel of any kind is the New York City West Delaware water-supply tunnel, begun in 1937 and completed in 1944. It has a diameter of 4.1m 13ft 6in and runs for 169km 105miles from the Rondout reservoir into the Hillview reservoir, in Yonkers, New York, USA.
Longest tunnel-to-tunnel bridge
The longest tunnel-to-tunnel bridge is the Aizhai Bridge, near Jishou in Hunan, China, with a tower-to-tower main span of 1,176 m (3,858 ft) and a total length of 1,534 m (5,033 ft). The suspension bridge has a deck height of 336m (1,102 ft) above the DeHang Canyon and is part of the Jishou-to-Chadong expressway. It opened to traffic in 2012.
Largest road tunnel by diameter
The largest diameter road tunnel in the world is that blasted through Yerba Buena Island, San Francisco, California, USA. It is 24 m. (79 ft.) wide, 17 m. (56 ft.) high and 165 m. (541 ft.) long. More than 280,000 vehicles pass along its two decks each day.
Oldest subway tunnel
The Atlantic Avenue Tunnel, Brooklyn, USA, was built over a period of seven months in 1844. Running for 767m (2,517 ft), it is 6.4 m (21 ft) wide and 5.2 m (17 ft) high. The tunnel was the first in the world built underground in order to improve urban congestion, public safety and rail operations. It operated until 1861, when the ends were sealed off, and was rediscovered in 1981.
Highest altitude railway tunnel
The Fenghuo Mount railway tunnel is situated at 4,905 m (16,092 ft) on the Qinghai-Tibet Railway as it passes over the Qinghai-Tibet Highland in China. It is 1,338 m (4,390 ft) long and was constructed between 18 October 2001 and 30 September 2003.
Most expensive road tunnel
The “Big Dig” Central Artery/Tunnel Project (CA/T) in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, was constructed between 1991 and 2007 at a cost of US$14.6 billion. It relocated the Interstate 93 and other highways into 3.5 miles (5.6km) of 8–10-lane tunnels under the city centre and harbour. During the peak construction period (1999–2002), $3 million of work was completed each day by more than 5,000 construction workers. More than 12.2 million m³ of
earth was excavated – enough to fill a stadium 16 times over.
Deepest road tunnel
The Eiksund road tunnel in Norway connects the Norwegian mainland with Hareidlandet island. The tunnel is 7,765 meters (25,476 feet) long and achieves a depth below sea level of 287 meters (942 feet). The tunnel was opened in 2008 and cost half a billion Norwegian Krona (approximately 53 million GPB). The tunnel carries approximately 1,000 vehicles each day of which half are commercial trucks. The tunnel is unique in that it carries a steep gradient between its deepest point and its exit of 9.6%, almost twice the allowable gradient for such tunnels in the European :union:. This new tunnel beats the previous record holder (also in Norway) by over 20 meters.
Longest undersea road tunnel
The Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line is a combination of bridge and tunnel that spans Tokyo Bay, Japan. The tunnel section is 9,583 m (31,440 ft.) long and was opened in 1997.
Longest sewage tunnel
The Chicago TARP (Tunnels and Reservoir Plan) in Illinois, USA, when complete, in 2019, will involve 211 km (131 miles) of machine-bored sewer tunnels measuring 2.7-10 m (9-33 ft.) in diameter. Phase I was due for completion on 1 March 2006, meaning 176 km (109.4 miles) have since been operable. The project was commissioned in the mid-1970s to better regulate flooding and sewage flow, and has cost $3 billion (£1.5 billion) so far.
Fastest tunnel boring
During construction of a 6.9 km (4.2 miles) underground route between Atocha and Chamartin stations in Madrid, Spain, in August 2008, a tunnelling speed record of 92.8 m (304 ft 5 in) per day was reached using a double-shield tunnel-boring machine.
First tunnelling shield
The first tunnelling shield was patented in January 1818 by Sir Marc Brunel (father of the celebrated Isambard Kingdom Brunel), a French-born engineer who had settled in London, UK, in 1799. It was first used in 1825 as a temporary support structure in the construction of the Thames Tunnel to connect Rotherhithe and Wapping in London – 365 m (1,300 ft) long and eventually completed in 1843.
Largest tunnel boring machine
The largest tunnel boring machine goes by the name of Bertha. In summer 2013, her colossal 17.5-metre-diameter (57.5-ft) cutting head started drilling out the State Route 99 tunnel beneath Seattle, on the northwestern coast of the USA. The cutter consists of a large steel face, into which are mounted no less than 600 small cutting disks that grind away at the rock in its path. The $80-million device, manufactured by Japanese engineering firm Hitachi Zosen, measures 91 metres in length (300 ft) and weighs 6,900 tons. The SR 99 tunnel will be 3.2 km long (2 miles). Bertha’s boring work is due to be completed in late 2014
Worst tunnel fire
On 12 November 2000, at least 155 skiers lost their lives in a tunnel fire on the Kaprun railway, which was built to take passengers up the Kitzsteinhorn Glacier in the Austrian Alps. The fire was caused by a blocked heating ventilator in the driver's cab, which led to the ignition of leaking hydraulic oil.
Oldest railway tunnel
The oldest railway tunnel is at Fritchley near Crich in Derbyshire, UK, and was constructed by Benjamin Outram in 1793. Built to complement the Cromford Canal upon its opening in 1793, the tunnel was constructed to allow the Butterley Gangroad to pass under a road junction at Chapel Street in Frtichley. The structure was originally about 27 m (88 ft 7 in) long, 2.7 m (8 ft 10 in) wide and 3 m (9 ft 10 in) high and was built using the "cut and cover"
method. Having undergone changes to the track gauge and re-alignment during its life, it survived in use until 1933. Both ends were sealed during the 1960s.
First tunnel under a navigable waterway
The first tunnel to be built under a navigable river is the 365 m (1,300ft) Thames Tunnel in London, completed in 1843. Intended by engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel for pedestrians and horse-drawn traffic, on the opening day 50,000 people walked through the tunnel – paying a penny each – and within the first 10 weeks one million had walked through. It is today used as part of the London rail network.
Worst tunnelling disaster - death toll
Between 1931-35 at the Hawk's Nest hydroelectric tunnel, West Virginia, USA c.2,500 people were killed.
Longest multi-coloured light tunnel
The longest tunnel with a multi-coloured light display is the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel connecting East Nanjin Rd and Pudong in Shanghai, China. Over its 646.7-metre length, passengers on automated trains pass “into the core of the Earth” through a psychedelic curved display of changing lights and sounds. It opened in 2000.
Largest system of military infiltration tunnels
The tunnels of Cu Chi in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, became a key part of the Viet Cong insurgency fight against a South Vietnamese government backed by the USA in the 1960s. At their peak, the claustrophobic, snakeand-spider-infested tunnels stretched for 250 km (150 mi), an extent of which has been preserved to be explored by tourists.
First underwater rail link between two continents
The first underwater rail link between two continents was the Marmaray Tunnel, opened on 29 October 2013 between Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait, Turkey. Created as part of the "Marmaray" project to rebuild and improve transport connections in Istanbul, Turkey, the total 8-mile (13.5-km) rail tunnel was designed to carry commuters between the Asian and European sides of this major cultural city. The underwater section of the tunnel was built from 11 cast concrete sections, of around 135 m (443 ft) long. These were lowered approximately 58 m (190.3 ft) to the seabed, where they were joined together, sealed, covered with earth and pumped dry – making a total undersea tunnel length of 0.86 miles (1.4 km).
Longest continuous subway (underground)
The Moscow metro Kaluzhskaya underground railway line from Medvedkovo to Bittsevsky Park is 37.9 km. (23.8 miles) long and was completed in early 1990.
Lowest railway line
The Seikan Tunnel, which crosses the Tsugaro Strait between Honshu and Hokkaido, Japan, reaches a depth of 240m 786ft below sea level. The tunnel was opened on 13 Mar 1988 and is 53.85km 33.46miles long. Trains stop in the middle of the Seikan Tunnel for two minutes so that passengers can take pictures through the windows of panels on the walls of the tunnel.
Worst underground train disaster
On October 28, 1995, approximately 300 people were killed (and at least 250 people injured) when the underground train in which they were travelling caught fire in a tunnel between two metro stations at Baku, Azerbaijan.
First underground railway system
The London Underground, London, UK, is the first and oldest metro system in the world, with its first section opening on 9 January 1863. The initial stretch of the Metropolitan line ran 6 km (3.73 mi) between Paddington and Farringdon Street. To build the line, the 'cut and cover' system was used, with streets along the route dug up, tracks laid in a trench, and then re-covered with a brick tunnel and new upper road surface.
First sewage plant underground
The Henriksdal plant in Stockholm, Sweden was the world's first major waste-water plant to be built underground. It was built between 1941 and 1971, and involved the excavation of nearly 1 million m³ (35,300,000 ft³) of rock.
Largest underground mining town
A South Australian opal mining town, Coober Pedy, is home to around 2,000 residents living in 1,500 underground homes. Each ‘dug-out’, as the locals call their houses, sits 2.4–6.7 m (8–22 ft) below ground with living and bedrooms, and has air shafts for ventilation. However, as the dug-outs make do without water or sewage, kitchens and bathrooms are placed on the surface. All of this is done in order to avoid scorching day-time temperatures, which reach 51°C (125°F) in the shade. The sealed sandstone walls offer an attractive rose-coloured environment, and if you want to make your home larger, then you just start digging and drilling!
Deepest underground laboratory
Opened on 12 December 2010, the China Jinping Underground Laboratory is the deepest laboratory in the world.Sited at a depth of 2,400 m (7,900 ft), the lab is the best-shielded lab for studying high-energy cosmic rays today.
At a cosmic ray rate of 0.2 particles per m² per day, there is less background noise for the laboratory instruments to listen for the rarer, more interesting particles. The engineers who built the lab had to bore through solid marble rock, with the excavation taking from May 2009 until inauguration in December 2010. The lab is currently home to the China Dark Matter Experiment (CDEX) and the Particle and Astrophysical Xenon Detector (PandaX), which are both looking for evidence of Dark Matter.