Greetings from Thailand. The World Tunnel Congress and 38th General Assembly (WTC 2012) will be held in Bangkok from 18th to 23rd May 2012. This is the first time that Thailand will host the ITA-AITES World Tunnel Congress, one of the most privileged congresses in the construction industry.
The Asia region including Thailand has witnessed the tremendous development of infrastructure projects including the construction of mega underground structures. Recent developments have been spurred by the increasing demand for various types of tunnels and underground structures particularly in the congested urban environment (Fig. 1).
Bangkok itself, as the commercial and political center of the country with a rapidly growing population, continues to need more infrastructure projects as it expands. Various major underground construction projects are being planned and some have been implemented. Some of the ongoing and upcoming major projects include
• MRT Blue Line Extension
• Flood Diversion Tunnels
• Deep Excavation for Various Underground Space Use
MRT Blue Line Extension
As a part of the 291 km extension of the MRT network the Mass Rapid Transit Authority of Thailand (MRTA) has awarded contracts for the construction of the second phase of the existing MRT system in Bangkok known as the Blue Line Extension Project. The underground sections of the project consist of 5 km tunnels and 4 deep underground stations. The project will have to deal with a number of technical complexities and challenges as the tunnelling and deep excavation works are to be carried out underneath the extremely congested public roads bounded by rows of sensitive buildings in historically significant area of Bangkok.
Flood Diversion Tunnels
Recent flooding in many parts of Thailand has called for the need of more flood drains and diversion tunnels to prevent a repeat of the large-scale flooding. Bangkok itself was recently threatened by flooding from its main river, the Chao Phraya - with a combination of high tides, the flood surge from the North and heavy rainstorms, low lying areas adjacent to the main river were inundated. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is building a system of giant drainage tunnels under the city to protect it from the annual threat of flooding. With a total length of 35 km, these tunnels will channel the floodwaters to the Chao Phraya River, which runs into the Gulf of Thailand. The construction of the four huge tunnels is planned for completion in five years at an estimated total cost of 550 million USD.
Conference Themes and Scientific Programme
Under the theme “Tunnelling and Underground Space for a Global Society”, WTC 2012 in Bangkok will call together the tunnelling and underground space community in the Southeast Asia region to set up a forum with the World Tunnelling Society. Besides being involved in an excellent forum for technical discussion, exchanging ideas and sharing experience, participants will have the opportunity to meet with high-level industry leaders, academics, developers and decision makers from the region and various parts of the world.
Apart from the standard technical sessions led by prominent keynote lecturers, the Scientific Programme will feature today’s challenging issues in tunnelling and underground construction industry such as Natural Disaster Mitigation and Management Through Underground Space Use, and Underground Structure Resistance Against Seismic Loads.
Congress Venue: Queen Sirikit National Convention Center
WTC 2012 will be held at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC), an oasis in the prime area of dynamic Bangkok. Having a total area of 65,000 m2 with all the latest facilities, excellent accessibility and highest security, QSNCC is an ideal venue for large scale international conferences and exhibitions. The Plenary Hall can accommodate 5,500 persons with theatre-style configuration in its 4,600 m2 gross usable area (Fig. 2).
QSNCC is located in the heart of Bangkok’s vibrant business district, surrounded by luxurious 4 to 5 star hotels, and is less than an hour to the International Airport. The most convenient way of commuting to the venue is by subway as MRT station is right in front of the venue.
ITA-CET Training Course on Urban Tunnelling
The Pre-Congress ITA-CET Training Course will be organised on 18 and 19 May 2012, by the ITA-CET Foundation (Foundation for Education and Training on Tunnelling and Underground Space Use) incorporated with the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA-AITES) and the Thailand Underground and Tunnelling Group (TUTG) of the Engineering Institute of Thailand. Lectures on topics related to the theme of the training course “Urban Tunnelling” will be delivered by experts in the fields during the two-day event. It is an excellent opportunity for young engineers to participate in this training course to learn both theory and practical aspects of urban tunnelling and related topics lectured by prominent lecturers. Upon completion of the two-day course, participants will receive a certificate from the ITA-CET Foundation endorsed by ITA and TUTG of the Engineering Institute of Thailand as part of the Continuous Professional Development (CPD) programme. Detailed information on the ITA-CET training course will be posted in the conference website www.wtc2012.com.
ITA Global Perspective Open Session - Tuesday, 22 May 2012
The Bangkok Open Session “Planning Better and Resilient Cities” during WTC 2012 will be the second session to be held as part of the ITA Global Perspective Programme “Urban Underground Space in a Changing World”. The Open Session will look at the need for planning the use of Underground space, to make the use of underground space sustainable and to have space available for cities to become resilient to climate change. The Open Session will be held with ISOCARP, 1 of 3 of the Global Partners involved with the programme.
The exhibition in WTC 2012 will provide an ideal platform for you to showcase your products and services in Asia, a vast open market for global construction industries.
The exhibition areas will be organized to fit in with well structured technical programs and other WTC functions to ensure effective marketing activities, and technical networking can be done in dynamic but friendly atmosphere.
As an exhibitor in WTC 2012 you will have opportunity to
• Increase your company’s visibility among industry leaders
• Reach high-level industry leaders and decision makers
• Market your product and services in highly demanding markets in Asia and the region
• To develop network and industry links in Asia and the region.
Participants are encouraged to register for the Congress as early as possible to take advantage of the Early Bird incentives (approximately 100 USD) by 29 February 2012. Registration can be made on the Congress website www.wtc2012.com
Venue : Plenary Hall 3, Queen Sirikit National Convention Center
Congress banquet will take place in Dusit Thani Hotel, a classic hotel with distinctive Thai inspirations. Mixing modern and international atmosphere with Thai culture, the venue itself will make the congress banquet a unique experience. You will enjoy a dinner with unique blend of Thai and Western flavours such as you never tasted before.
Technical Site Visits
Technical site visits will be arranged for delegates to see ongoing tunnelling and underground construction projects. Interesting completed major projects may also be selected for the technical site visits. Further details of technical site visits will be announced on the Congress website www.wtc2012.com.
Bangkok offers a wide range of world-class accommodation at relatively inexpensive rates in comparison with those in other major cities. There are hotels and service apartments offering good accommodation to suit every budget.
Special arrangements have been made with the various hotels for participants attending WTC 2012 to enjoy special discount rates. Room reservations can be made through www.wtc2012.com until 30 April 2012.
Host City Bangkok
Bangkok was founded in 1782 by the first monarch of the present Chakri dynasty. It is now the country‘s spiritual, cultural, diplomatic, commercial and educational hub. It covers an area of more than 1,500 km2, and is home to approximately 10 million people or more than 15 % of the country‘s population.
Bangkok is located in the heart of Southeast Asia and is served by major air routes from more than 80 airlines linking Asia with Europe, Africa, America and Oceania. Bangkok, having world-class facilities with high-quality accommodations, good local and international cuisines, great shopping places, rich-cultural heritage, recreational amenities, availability of mass transit system and its state-of-the-art convention center, will make a perfect host-city for WTC 2012.
In addition to its unique culture and exquisite architecture, Bangkok, the capital of Thailand has much to offer to the congress delegates. More than anywhere else in the country, Bangkok expresses Thailand’s uncanny ability to blend the old with the new. The delegates, and their accompanying family and friends, will have a great opportunity to join a variety of touring options arranged by the Organising Committee to visit fascinating places.
Pre and Post Congress Tours in Thailand and Neighbouring Countries
Thailand offers a fascinating variety of options for pre and post conference tours. These include the nearby beach resorts of Pattaya and Hua Hin, Island getaways such as Samui, Phuket and Chang. In contrast to these sun-drenched beaches, there is the cool North, including Chiang Mai, the largest and most culturally significant city in northern Thailand. Northeastern Thailand is the gateway to The Great Mekong Sub Region and also the location of many historical sites.