February 28, 2018

Norway's tunnel to the future

Norway's tunnel vision a world first

IT'S taken 144 years to do it, but Norway is finally starting work next year on the world's first tunnel for ocean-going ships, and which was first sketched on drawing boards back in 1874.

The engineering wonder will be blasted through the mountainous Stad Peninsula that juts 20km into the ocean between the Norwegian Sea to the north, and the North Sea to the south. Coupled with fierce winds for over a third of the year, it means that where the two oceans meet off the Peninsula's furthest extremity, is Scandinavia's most treacherous point for violent storms, mountainous waves – and shipwrecks.

Now after 144 years of proposals and arguments the Norwegian Government has earmarked 2.7 billion Krone (AU$500,000,000+) for this revolutionary ship's tunnel. At 1.7km long, 45m high and 36m wide, it will be able to accommodate cargo and passenger vessels up to 16,000 tonnes, including the fjordland cruise ships of Norway's popular Hurtigruten Group, saving them venturing through that perilous Stadhavet Sea.

Some 3-million cubic metres of solid rock will be blasted out during the near-five years it will take to build the tunnel, which will even have an observation deck at one end for sightseers to watch dozens of ships entering and leaving the tunnel daily.

And while it will be a world's first for ocean-going shipping when it opens in 2023, tunnels for canal and river vessels are nothing new… the first was dug for a canal to go through a mountain in France as far back as 1679.

[] COMPUTER image of an entrance to Norway's planned world-first tunnel for ocean-going cargo and passenger ships. (Norwegian Coastal Administration)

[] ARTIST'S impression of a vessel in Norway's world-first tunnel through a mountain for ocean-going ships. (Norwegian Coastal Administration)

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