Construction work has now begun on the world’s longest immersed tunnel, the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel that descends a whopping 40 metres under the Baltic Sea. Once completed, the tunnel constructed by immersing pre-built tunnel sections will also be the longest combined road and rail tunnel anywhere in the world.
Built with a budget of a massive 7 billion euros, the tunnel will span 18 kilometres in length. It will connect Denmark and Germany, and will be constructed across the Fehmarn Belt, which is a strait between Fehmarn, an island in Germany and Lolland, an island in Denmark. Once constructed, the journey time will be reduced from 45 minutes by ferry to a mere ten minutes by car and seven minutes by train.
“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 company in charge of the project. “When the tunnel will be completed, the same journey will take two and a half hours.”
Officially called Fehmarnbelt Fixed Link, the tunnel is one of the biggest infrastructure projects in the European continent and is set to open to public in 2029. The project, however, dates back to 2008, when an agreement was signed between Germany and Denmark.
The tunnel will have four motorway lanes, twin railway lines, and a separate emergency tube.
Apart form making things easier for cars and passenger trains, the tunnel will also have a beneficial effect on freight trucks by creating a land route between Sweden and Central Europe.
“The Fehmarnbelt tunnel will create a strategic corridor between Scandinavia and Central Europe. The upgraded railway transfer means more freight moving from road to rail, supporting a climate-friendly means of transport. We consider cross-border connections a tool for creating growth and jobs not only locally, but also nationally,” Michael Svane of the Confederation of Danish Industry told CNN.
A total of 89 massive concrete elements weighing 73,000 tonnes, 217 metres long, 9 metres high, and 42 metres wide will be built for the tunnel. Subsequently, they will be immersed on the seabed using hydraulic arms before they are connected.
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