World Tunnel Congress and ITA Annual Meeting in Dubrovnik, Croatia

More than 1500 tunnellers from 71 countries gathered in Dubrovnik, Croatia from May 22 to 27, 2015. The occasion was the 41st Annual Meeting of the ITA – the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association – in conjunction with the 2015 World Tunnel Congress.

The Tunnel Congress jointly organized by the Croatian Association for Tunnels and Underground Structures (ITA Croatia) and the ITA was captioned “Promoting Tunnelling in South East European Region”. 57 of the current 73 ITA members were present in Dubrovnik. At 78 %, the number was slightly higher than the 73 % registered at the previous Congress held last year in Brazil (please see info box on p. 43).

1 World Tunnel Congress 2015

The main congress programme embraced 13 topics:

1. Planning and Designing Tunnels and Underground Structures

2. Fire Safety of Tunnels and Underground Structures

3. Mechanized Tunnelling in Development and Use

4.  Operation and Maintenance of Tunnels and Underground

5. Developments in Use of Underground Space: Case Studies

6. Cost Optimization and Financing of Underground Structures

7. Immersed and Floating Tunnelling

8. Intelligent Systems, Mechatronics and Robotics in Tunnelling

9. Conventional Tunnelling Methods in Development and Use

10. Urban planning and Using of Underground Space

11. SEE Session: Soft Ground Urban Tunnelling/Rock Tunnelling
in Karst

12. Risk Analyses and Techniques for Underground Structures

13. Equipment of Tunnels and Underground Structures

In addition, further separate series of lectures were presented:

A workshop on “Aging Tunnels – Safety in Operation and during Refurbishment” organized by the Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities (ITA-COSUF)

A round of lectures and discussions on urban planning organized by the Committee on Underground Space (ITACUS)

Lectures on drill+blast operations and on two reports published to mark the WTC (relating to dimensioning fibre reinforced segments and the reutilization of used components for mechanized tunnelling; please refer to the details that follow) organized by the Committee on Technologies and Development (ITA-TECH)

A general assembly of the ITA Young Members Group (ITAYM)

The papers of the main programme were presented at 50 technical sessions; at 40 sessions each of the papers was restricted to a “normal” length of 15 min, the remaining 10 sessions were presented as so-called Power Point Poster Presentations (PPPP), at which contributions were explained in brief to a small interested audience. Even although this form of presentation, first introduced at the 2013 WTC in Geneva, represents an improvement compared to the customary “poster presentations” that were once provided, many lecturers and members of the audience in Dubrovnik questioned its worth.

Organizational Problems

The series of lectures particularly suffered this year from the fact that a large number of the papers were presented parallel to each other – in some cases, e.g. on Tuesday afternoon up to seven sessions took place parallel to each other. A further disadvantage resulted from the fact that various lecturers as well as chairpersons failed to turn up for the lecture or session. This was not so much the fault of the people concerned but a result of faulty organization: many lecturers were obviously not properly informed that their paper had been accepted for presentation. Similarly there was a lack of prior coordination with those chairing the sessions regarding whether they had enough time available to participate. Many were forced to learn their fate from the programme, which was first made available in printed form on the spot rather than being ready for downloading in advance.

Furthermore numerous participants complained about poor organization. There was a lack of signs for instance so that many could not find the lecture rooms, which were distributed throughout various hotels – or if they did, only after a lengthy search. And there were similar problems with the accompanying exhibition: This was held in marquees owing to a lack of suitable facilities, which were set up at two different locations on account of inadequate space. According to various visitors they were unable to find the second of these marquees, which was rather remote. As a result it is not really surprising that the exhibitors there had only a handful of visitors.

ITA Training Course

On May 22 and 23, a special ITA Training Course was staged as in previous years during the run-up to the Congress. This time it was organized by the Croatian Association for Tunnels and Underground Structures, the Committee on Education and Training (ITACET) and the ITACET Foundation. This course intended for young professionals related to tasks frequently tackled in Croatia and was captioned “Soft Ground Urban Tunnelling & Rock Tunnelling in Karst”. A total of 142 participants including many from Croatian universities, who could attend the event free of charge, took advantage of the opportunity to learn more about this particular field of underground construction.

Around 15 papers, presented by internationally recognized experts from the academic and business world, explained which of the different tunnelling methods can be applied in the areas referred to, commensurate with the state of the art. The major topics that were dealt with included: principles, subsurface exploration, monitoring, conventional and mechanized drives. Many topics were backed up by appropriate case examples. Following a proposal put forward at last year’s General Assembly, a special paper devoted to industrial safety was then presented.

Opening Ceremony

At the opening ceremony on the Monday, words of welcome were first delivered by Dr. Davorin Kolic (ITA Croatia president), Nikola Dobroslavic (representing the Croatian president), Andro Vlahusic (mayor of Dubrovnik) and John Reed (representing the Australian Embassy in Croatia). The welcoming addresses and papers were framed by a folkloristic dance called Linđo, typical of Dubrovnik.

Muir-Wood Lecture

During this year’s WTC what is now the sixth lecture commemorating Sir Alan Muir-Wood was held. Pietro Lunardi (Italy), former professor and former Minister for Infrastructure and Transport in Italy presented a paper on “Extrusion Control of the Ground Core at the Tunnel Excavation Face as a Stabilization Instrument for the Cavity”. Many members of the audience expressed their disappointment about the manner this paper, intended as a keynote lecture, was presented: Lunardi held it in Italian rather than in English or French, the two official ITA languages. In the process, he presented his paper at such a speed that the simultaneous interpreters were unable to keep up so that complete text passages had to be omitted. Even native Italian speakers were not exactly thrilled by the lecture. As a result the growing noise level in the room while the paper was being presented made itself felt.

The text version of the Muir-Wood Lecture can be downloaded from the ITA webpage. In this connection, it should be mentioned that Dr. Peter Kaiser (Canada) has been selected by the ITA Executive Council to hold the next Muir-Wood Lecture at the WTC 2016 in San Francisco.

Lectures at the
Opening Ceremony

Prof. Theodosis Tassios (Greece) provided a lecture on the cultural historical significance of tunnelling and sewer duct construction in ancient Greece captioned “The Trend towards large-scale Public Works in ancient Greece – from Mycenaean Works and the Eupalinos Tunnel to BOT Projects”. According to his lively presentation accompanied by an animated film the almost 1000 m long Eupalinos Tunnel was successfully produced by reverse driving to supply the Greek town of Samos (now: Pythagorio) as early as the 6th century BC. Furthermore Prof. Tassios revealed how even in those days tunnels were built and financed by the BOT (Build Operate Transfer) principle.

Owing to the great significance of the Eupalinos Tunnel, the ITA paid tribute to the groundbreaking project with an “International Tunnelling Landmark” award. The ITA president handed the award to Ioannis Fikiris, representative of the Greek Tunnelling Society.

ITA past-president In-Mo Lee was declared an honorary president of the ITA Croatia. In his subsequent “Red Tie Lecture” captioned “Dream of Moles”, Lee introduced his audience to his future vision with a rising number of Metro lines, improved techniques to master groundwater and the ongoing efforts made by tunnellers to create more stable, sustainable and better cities. He added that “in Korea we dream of linking the Korean Peninsula with the Chinese mainland and Japan”.

The first opening lecture as such was presented by Drazen Antolovic from the Croatian Ministry of Shipping, Transport and Infrastructure in his native language, dealing with “Plans for Using Underground Space in developing Croatia’s Road and Rail Infrastructure”. In the second paper presented in this block, Davorin Kolic tackled “Tunnels in South-East Europe (SEE)”.

ITACET Award: Presented posthumously to Dr. Koichi Ono

Piergiorgio Grasso (Italy), vice-president of the ITACET Foundation, presented the ITACET Award 2015 posthumously to Dr. Koichi Ono during the WTC opening ceremony. Grasso handed over the prize to Ono’s widow Masako. Felix Amberg, ITA treasurer and member of the board of the ITACET Foundation presented a second award to the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL, Switzerland), whose Institute for Rock Mechanics has housed the ITACET Foundation secretariat since 2007. Claude Berenguier, the ITACET Foundation’s secretary-general accepted the prize on behalf of the EPFL).

Following the opening ceremony, Yann Leblais (AFTES, France) handed over an AFTES recommendation within the scope of a small reception for dimensioning segments for mechanized drives to Predag Miscevic (ITA Croatia). This recommendation was translated into Croatian at AFTES’ expense and is intended to assist Croatian colleagues to design tunnels.

Open Session

At the start of the ITA Open Session on the Tuesday, the Working Groups and Committees put forward the results of their endeavours to a larger audience. In this connection, the eight new ITA reports published in the course of the past year were presented:

“Survey of existing Regulations and recognized Recommendations on Operation and Safety of Road Tunnels” (ITA-COSUF)

„Monitoring Frequencies in Urban Tunnelling“ (ITAtech)

„Remote Measurements Monitoring Systems“ (ITAtech)

“Design Guidance for precast fibre-reinforced Concrete Segments” (ITAtech)

“Guidelines on Rebuilds of Machinery for mechanized Tunnel Excavation” (ITAtech)

“Strategy for Site Investigation of Tunnelling Projects” (Working Group 2)

“Guidelines for good Working Practice in high-pressure compressed Air” (Working Group 5)

“An Owners’ Guide to immersed Tunnels” (Working Group 11)

In 2014, the ITA announced at its Open Session in Iguassu (Brazil) that it intended to tackle the topic of “Underground Space and natural Resources” over a three-year period. After the topic of mining was tackled in Brazil, this year the regenerative production of energy from hydropower was highlighted. The focus was on dialogue among internationally recognized experts as well as the exchange of knowledge and experiences. The introductory film “Underground Space Use in Hydropower Projects” can be viewed online by accessing

Seven experts spearheaded by Ruth Haug discussed the subjects of sustainability, feasibility as well as financing and insurance: Jon Ulrik Håheim (Statkraft, Norway), Dorij Phuntshok (Drukgreen, Bhutan), Hartmut Reiner (MunichRe, Germany), Gérard Seingre (Nant de Drance, Switzerland), Zvonimir Sever (HEP, Croatia), Harald Wagner (Thailand) and Jenny Yan (CREC, China). The experts unanimously concluded that: tunnelling with its progressive technologies exerts a decisive influence on the feasibility of hydropower plants and in many cases is required to enable a sustainable solution for the construction scheme to be achieved. Hydropower plants afford the possibility in many parts of the world to provide energy in a reliable, economic and long-term manner. At the same time, they can serve flood protection, drinking water supply, the transportation of goods or irrigation. In this way, they represent the basis for the social and economic development of a country or even a whole continent.

2 General Assembly

Development of Membership

President Søren Degn Eskesen chaired the General Assembly. He informed the delegates about how membership had developed. Compared with the previous year the number of member countries has increased by two to 73; Guatemala and Qatar have been accepted as new members. Although 16 corporate and 5 individual members joined, the overall number has dropped slightly owing to cancellations and exclusions. Currently taking all new registrations and cancellations into account, the ITA has 73 member nations, 191 corporate and 91 individual members (altogether 282 associated members as opposed to 286 last year). Three companies have joined as prime sponsors whilst one company has renounced this role. In addition, twelve new supporters were obtained; five failed to renew their support. Thus in total, the ITA can rely on 17 prime sponsors and 57 supporters.

Tasks and Targets of the ITA – current Status

Within the framework of last year’s General Assembly the ITA’s tasks and targets for the years ahead were redefined by the ITA Executive Council with the guiding theme also being established: “ITA, the leading international organization promoting the use of tunnels and underground space through knowledge-sharing and application of technology”). Seven strategic goals have been defined:

1 Consolidate/Activate Member Nations – particularly newly joined Member Nations

2. Improve Communication and Functioning of Working Groups and Committees

3. Expand Industry Relations

4. Encourage Knowledge-Sharing through Education and Training

5. Create and develop an ITA Young Members Group

6. Promote the Use of Underground Space

7. Improve Communication towards Member Nations, Industry and Public

At the assembly Eskesen reported on how and to what extent these aims had been achieved within the course of the past year. In addition, the Executive Council had commissioned an external institute to undertake a survey among the ITA associates and members in order to determine the general satisfaction factor and obtain suggestions for improvements. Some 30 % of the almost 400 persons and institutions, who were contacted, replied. Their responses indicated that the ITA’s image is generally extremely good although sometimes certain things were described as too bureaucratic. Around 60 % of the replies testified that the ITA exercised a major influence on accomplishing tunnel projects and the vast majority approved the above mentioned guiding theme and the strategic goals. The greatest benefit is seen as profiting from technical knowledge and professional networks. In summing up, the following recommendations for the future were made: expanding the exchange of knowledge through training courses, implementing clear standards for staging the World Tunnel Congresses as well as support for the Working Groups and Committees.

ITA Study on the worldwide Tunnelling Market

For the first time, the STUVA has commissioned a study on developments on the worldwide tunnelling market. This is to be updated every three years. Its results were distributed among the prime sponsors prior to the General Assembly. The most important results can be summed up as follows: in 2013, the market for underground construction was worth 90 billion US dollars worldwide.

Compared with 2012 and 2011 this signified an increase of 3.5 % resp. 7.5 %. On average, between 4500 and 4700 km are built throughout the world per year. During the period between 2000 and 2013 the total length of the tunnels completed annually in Europe doubled from 250 to 500 km/year. However in Asia the total increased 15-fold from 250 to 3750 km/year. On other continents developments have if anything been more moderate: in North America namely from 65 to 75 km/year, in South America from 25 to 20 km/year and in the rest of the world from 20 to 50 km/year: With respect to the total length of the tunnels, Asia thus accounted for around 86 % of the tunnelling market in 2013, with Europe placed second with 11 % and the rest of the world contributing only 4 %. Measured in US dollars the distribution is slightly different (78 %, 17 % and 5 %), however the general trend remains the same. Even although China represented the largest market in 2013 (seen worldwide 75 % of all tunnels were produced in China), according to the ITA Europe still remains a substantial and interesting market for the tunnelling industry.

ITA Award

After the ITA had supported the “NCE Tunnelling Awards” (NCE = New Civil Engineers) for a number of years, the ITA Executive Council decided to introduce independently the so-called “ITA Tunnelling Award” to be presented in 2015 for the first time. The prize is intended to honour outstanding achievements and developments in the field of underground construction. The prize is to be awarded on an annual basis in nine categories:

Outstanding Project of the Year – up to 50 million euros

Tunnelling Project of the Year – between 50 million and 500 million euros

Major Project of the Year – more than 500 million euros

Renovation/Upgrading Project of the Year

Technical Innovation of the Year

Environmental Initiative of the Year

Safety Initiative of the Year

Innovative Use of Underground Space

Young Tunneller of the Year

Proposals can be put forward online until August 14, 2015 by accessing The prize will be awarded on Nov. 19, 2015 in the Hagerbach Test Gallery (Switzerland) during the gala evening at a one-day lecture event. It is intended to hold the award ceremony in future at alternating venues throughout the world.

ITA Young Members Group

The “Young Members Group” intended for up-and-comers in tunnelling was set up in accordance with the resolution approved at the previous General Assembly. It will provide a network platform for young professionals and students (up to the age of 35) thus bridging the (supposed) gap between the generations. It is designed to promote the exchange of experience in the industry at all levels and create greater awareness for the up-and-coming generation. It will ensure that young professionals and students have a voice in the ITA and its Working Groups as well as passing on the goals and ideals of the ITA to the next generation. The Young Members Group now stages events for exchanging experiences and transferring knowledge at regular intervals. Within the framework of the WTC, which young members can attend at a reduced rate, the Young Members Group organized a General Assembly and a network evening. In conjunction with the WTC the first issue of a special journal called “Breakthrough” was brought out by the group. The group is headed by Jurij Karlovsek (Australia) with Petr Salak (UK) acting as his deputy.


The ITA has commissioned a press agency to improve communication externally as well as internally. In addition it regularly issues the email newsletter “ita@news” free of charge. ITA members can also obtain the ITA’s scientific organ, the journal “Tunnelling and Underground Space Technology” (TUST) in electronic form.

Furthermore, the ITA website is available as a source of information. The homepage is devised for decision makers and the general public explaining for example how underground spaces can be utilized and the appropriate construction methods. It cites specific advantages and provides information on planning, construction and operation. The second section, the “corporate website”, provides details about how the ITA is organized, its member countries, the corporate members, publications, Committees and Working Groups as well as events relating to underground construction.

At the General Assembly details were provided on the contacts that the ITA maintains with various international affiliated organizations and UN organizations (please see info box on p. 53). Two of them reported on their cooperation at the General Assembly: PIARC and ACUUS. The report dealing with the activities of the various ITA Working Groups took up a considerable portion at the Assembly. Details will be provided in issue 6/2015 of tunnel.

WTC 2016–2018

The General Assembly was also able to decide on the venue for the 2018 Annual Meeting. The cities of Dubai (United Arab Emirates) and New Delhi (India) had applied. Dubai received the required absolute majority (29) of the votes cast (53). The dates and venues for forthcoming WTCs are as follows:

April 22 to 28, 2016, 42nd ITA Annual Meeting in San Francisco (USA); with the slogan “Uniting our Industry”

June 9 to 16, 2017, 43rd ITA Annual Meeting in Bergen (Norway): bearing the caption “Surface Problems – Underground Solutions

April 20 to 26, 2018, 44th Annual Meeting in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) with the slogan: “Smart Cities: Managing the Use of Underground Space to enhance the Quality of Life”

3 ITA Executive Council

No new members were invited to join the ExCo this year. Following the 2015 WTC, Davorin Kolic (Croatia) is no longer an ExCo member. For the 2016 WTC in the USA, vice-president Amanda Elioff is the appropriate contact person, with Ruth Haug responsible for the WTC in 2017 in Norway. The ITA Executive Council will be able to rely on Maged Farouck Hanna (UAE) during the run-up to the event in Dubai, 2018.

The ITA Executive Council lines up as follows:

Søren Degn Eskesen, Denmark, president until 2016

In-Mo Lee, Korea, past-president until 2016

Rick P. Lovat, Canada, first vice-president until 2016

Tarcísio B. Celestino, Brazil, vice-president until 2016

Amanda Elioff, USA, vice-president until 2016

Daniele Peila, Italy, vice-president until 2016

Alexandre Gomes, Chile (until 2016)

Ruth G. Haug, Norway (until 2016)

Nikolaos Kazilis, Greece (until 2016)

Eric Leca, France (until 2016)

Jinxiu Yan, China (until 2016)

Anna Lewandowska, Poland (until 2017)

Felix Amberg, Switzerland, treasurer (until 2016)

Maged Farouck Hanna, United Arab Emirates (until 2018)

The General Assembly re-appointed Sorin Calinescu, Romania, as internal auditor for a further year. Since 2009, Olivier Vion as executive director has backed up the ExCo.

The following responsibilities are defined within the ExCo:

General Affairs: Amanda Elioff and Eric Leca

Development of the Working Groups: Tarcísio B. Celestino and Alexandre Gomes

Development of the Committees: Daniele Peila and Nikolaos Kazilis

Industry Relations and Sponsorship: Rick P. Lovat, Ruth G. Haug and Jinxiu Yan

Member Nation Development and Consolidation in all Countries: Søren Degn Eskesen; specifically:

Middle East: Søren Degn Eskesen and Eric Leca

Latin America: Tarcísio B. Celestino and Alexandre Gomes

China: Jinxiu Yan

Russia and CIS Countries: Mikhail Belenkiy as external expert

South-East Asia: Zaw Zaw Aye as external expert

Representative of the Prime Sponsors, Industry Contacts and Sponsors: Timo Laitinen as external expert (2015 until 2018, previously Tom Melbye)

Relations with the World Bank: Harald Wagner as external expert

4 Outlook

A report on the activities of the Working Groups and Committees will be published in issue 6/2015 of tunnel. Those groups substantially contribute to the positive way the ITA is regarded from the outside. This is mainly because they bring together people from different countries thus enabling an important exchange of experiences. In tunnel 6/15 you will learn more about the progress reached and the activities planned for the WGs and the four Committees in the months ahead.

Further details on the WTC and the 2015 ITA Annual Meeting in Dubrovnik as well as on the most important resolutions passed at the General Assembly and the activities of the WGs are to be found on the //" target="_blank" > website, in the ita@news (can be subscribed free-of-charge via //" target="_blank" > as well as in the Proceedings and on the corresponding USB stick for the World Tunnel Congress.

Further information relating to the ITA and future ITA Annual Meetings is available from:

The Secretariat of the German Tunnelling Committee Inc. – DAUB

Mathias-Brüggen-Str. 41, D-50827 Cologne

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Secretariat of the ITA – International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association

(c/o EPFL), GC D 1 402 (Bât. GC), Station 18, CH-1015 Lausanne

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as well as from the secretariats of the national tunnelling committees in the various ITA member countries.


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