(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 international locations when it opens in 2029.
After greater than a decade of planning, development began on the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel in 2020 and within the months since a short lived harbor has been accomplished on the Danish aspect. It’s going to 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,” stated Henrik Vincentsen, CEO of Femern A/S, the state-owned Danish firm in control of the challenge. “By the beginning of 2024 we have to be ready to immerse the first tunnel element.”
The tunnel, which might be 18 kilometers (11.1 miles) lengthy, is certainly one of Europe’s largest infrastructure tasks, with a development finances 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 as we speak’s cash. Though longer than the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel, the Channel Tunnel was made utilizing a boring machine, fairly than by immersing pre-built tunnel sections.
It is going to be constructed throughout the Fehmarn Belt, a strait between the German island of Fehmarn and the Danish island of Lolland, and is designed as a substitute for the present ferry service from Rødby and Puttgarden, which carries hundreds of 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 might be inbuilt Denmark was accomplished on June 8, 2022.
The tunnel, whose official identify is Fehmarnbelt Fastened Hyperlink, can even be the longest mixed street and rail tunnel wherever on the planet. It’s going to 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 in control of the challenge. “When the tunnel will be completed, the same journey will take two and a half hours.
“Right this moment lots of people fly between the 2 cities, however sooner or later will probably be higher to only 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 can have six manufacturing strains and the manufacturing facility will include 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 intervening time, as a result of the value of metal and different uncooked supplies has elevated. We do get the supplies we want, nevertheless it’s troublesome and our contractors have needed to enhance the variety of suppliers to verify they’ll 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 solid of a tunnel component was inbuilt July 2022.
“The Fehmarnbelt tunnel will create a strategic hall between Scandinavia and Central Europe. The upgraded railway switch means extra freight transferring from street to rail, supporting a climate-friendly technique of transport. We contemplate cross-border connections a device 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 might be created. Nature wants house and there might be more room for nature because of this,” he says.
“However the greatest benefit would be the profit for the local weather. Sooner passage of the Belt will make trains a robust challenger for air site visitors, and cargo on electrical trains is by far one of the best answer for the setting.”