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ITA President Soren Eskesen visited Saint Petersburg

     Published on Monday, 09 June 2014 16:04 
Danish Tunnelling Society representatives visited Saint Petersburg, Russia, on May 25-27, 2014, with Mr. Soren Eskesen, ITA president, leading the delegation.  Saint Petersburg specialists have a great experience to share regarding underground construction under difficult geotechnical conditions.
At the invitation of Association of Underground Builders CEO Sergei Alpatov Danish specialists visited Saint Petersburg, aiming to get to know better technologies applying by Russian specialists.
The invitation followed Sergei Alpatov’s report report on double-track tunnel construction with EPB TBM in Saint Petersburg at Nordic Forum meeting in Copenhagen last year, organized by Danish Tunnelling Society (DFTU).
Technical tours included visits to two construction sites: additional entrance to “Sportivnaya” metro station from the other bank of Neva river and metro station “Yuzhnaya” construction site, where TBM “Nadezhda” driving the double-track tunnel.
Also the meeting with Russian specialists from OAO “Metrostroy”  company, represented by chief engineer, deputy director general Aleksy Starkov, Design Institute “Lenmetrogiprotrans”, represented by chief engineer, deputy director general Vladimir Markov  (these two organizations in collaboration has been designing and constructing Saint Petersburg metro system throughout the years of its existence) and ZAO “Saint Petersburg IT- support for optimal conditions for integrated underground space use CENTER”, represented by its CEO Evgeni Lomakin.
They discussed Saint Petersburg’s difficult geology, where one of the deepest metro systems in the world has been constructed.
Even well-known technologies should be adapted, while being applied to these conditions. Russian engineers had to implement up to 300 improvements to the first design of TBM.  Also OAO “Metrostroy” specialists were the first to construct inclined tunnel with TBM equipment at an angle of 30 degrees. 
Technologies applying for Saint Petersburg metro system construction sometimes unique and are the subject of great interest. “Metrostroy” specialists answered questions of their Danish colleagues, reported on complicated works for historic center’s reconstruction, in particular in proximity to additional entrance to “Sportivnaya” metro station, emphasised the impressive quality of tubing, manufactured by “Metrobeton” plant in Saint Petersburg.
Evaluating results, ITA president Soren Eskesen emphasised that collaboration of Russia and countries – members of ITA regarding underground constructions is highly valuable.
Sergei Alpatov reminded the guests about 15th Wolrd Conference ACUUS 2016 to be held in Saint Petersburg. Sergei Alpatov expressed his gratitude for the discussion to Danish colleagues and Soren Eskesen in particular.
“We are grateful for your support and cooperation.  ITA in Russia may have a great influence. Participation in ACUUS-2016 would have a significant meaning for professional society” – commented Sergei Alpatov.



History of Underground Construction

The history of underground construction is the history of mankind’s search for solutions to the challenges of quality-of-life improvements, long-range construction and safety. Roman engineers designed multi-kilometer tunnels including the aqueducts that delivered water to the arid cities of the Empire, thereby creating the conditions for their prosperity. The underground cities of Cappadocia are a prime example of the longevity of construction in stone. The underground cult structures of Ancient Egypt representing the accepted safes of their time kept for us treasures of the ancient culture.

The catacombs of Rome, Naples and Paris, the labyrinth of mysterious passages at medieval castles – they’re all examples of the fact that mankind has always striven to utilize the underground space in the furtherance of practical goals, given its awareness of the safety and longevity of this type of construction.

The catacombs of Rome

The catacombs of Naples

It was not by accident that in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, underground construction re-emerged as a facilitator of religious aims: the underground crypts of many prominent cathedrals demonstrate not just impressive architectural solutions but also all of the functionality of a well-protected repository of material and intangible valuables. The underground spaces of this period in mankind’s history served primarily as a refuge as opposed to residential quarters or transportation arteries. Compared with the mastery of the Roman engineers, the centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire could aptly be described as a period of stability in underground construction – particularly impressive given the lack of the technology needed for further development of the field.

The situation abruptly changed in the 19th Century when blasting work and drilling machinery got developed. Ambitious projects got underway with the construction of the first tunnels in the Alps and the maritime tunnels dug by English and French engineers. In 1825, the laying of the world’s first underwater tunnel commenced in London – under the River Thames – under the leadership of Marc Brunel and his son Isambard using a driving shield. Construction wrapped up in 1843, and the tunnel went on to become part of the world’s first subway system. The London “tube” began operating in 1863, with the Budapest, Paris, and New York subway systems and the Istanbul “tunnel” following soon thereafter.  
With the ramping-up of technological support, the subway network expanded and became more refined, and underground construction continued to develop. In Russia, the first massive tunnels were the railway tunnels of the mid to late 19th Century. Tunneling soon became commonplace, and the ambitious Alps projects finally ended in success.


Tunnel boring machine

Construction of London tube 1861-1862

Construction of London tube 1861-1862

Quite predictably, the two world wars generated an entirely-new field of underground construction, featuring the emergence of underground factories, a tunnel network, multilevel sanctuaries and other underground structures of strategic importance.

The last decades of the 20th Century were a period of the active adaptation of underground construction to evolving transportation needs. Tunnels were built not simply to provide for essential communications but also to reduce travel time between discrete points using existing transportation links.
Today, technological advances in this area are making it possible not only to support the traffic flows of cities with populations in the many millions but also to lay vehicle and rail lines between countries separated by bodies of water. Projects such as the Channel Tunnel, Öresund Bridge and the tunnels currently under construction in Hong Kong vividly demonstrate just how simple it has become to overcome economic and time expenditures for international transport.


Öresund Bridge

Over time, technological development and the worsening state of the environment around the world have led to yet another popular direction of underground construction – more and more modern cities are pursuing development of the underground construction of shopping centers and parking garages. And those most interested in progressive methods of urban planning have long-since opted to include comprehensive plans for development of the underground space in their master plans.