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Global engineering projects to follow in 2019

Model of beijing new airport at the five year achievements exhibition (20171015150600)

2019 is set to be an interesting year for engineers around the world. New Civil Engineer has picked out some of the mega-projects and works going on across the world and close to home that you need to keep an eye on.  

Transpennine Rail upgrade (United Kingdom – Works begin Spring 2019) 

Millions of passengers already use the key northern route across the Pennines between York and Manchester, and Network Rail has predicted that this number will double over the next two decades.  

As a result, Network Rail and the Department for Transport have planned a £3bn series of upgrades to cut journey times between York, Leeds and Manchester and boost capacity. The main works are set to commence in early spring 2019.  

Transport for the North has also called for the government to ensure the upgrades include new freight capacity to enable transport for containers, which is currently not possible.  

Early works are already underway to improve structures and signalling along the Calder Valley route and major works to the Standedge Aqueduct. 

Map of transpennine route 1

Map of transpennine route 1


Beijing Daxing Airport (China - Due for 2019 completion) 

Beijing’s second international airport, Daxing, is expected to open in September 2019, and with scheduled upgrades could serve 100M passengers a year. That would put Daxing second on the list of the world’s biggest airports, just behind Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport which served 103M passengers in 2017.  

Construction of the new airport has been rapid, with works beginning in 2014. The airport will open with four runways, 268 parking bays, and a 700,000 square meter terminal area and planned upgrades could see an additional seven runways added in the future.  

Supporting works for the new airport include a high-speed rail line, and a new metro, with the metro expected to open alongside the airport in September.  

Model of Beijing Daxing airport

Model of Beijing Daxing airport

Riyadh Metro (Saudi Arabia - Due for a partial opening in 2019, fully operational by 2021) 

The ambitious metro scheme for the Saudi Arabian capital city is due for a partial opening this year.  

The project involves an entirely new metro scheme for the capital, with almost 180km of track across six metro lines serving over 80 brand new stations. The scheme has cost £22bn, with construction beginning in 2013. 

It is hoped that when fully operational, the metro will carry over 3M passengers each day, removing 250,000 car journeys from the roads of Riyadh in the process.  

The project was hit with scandal in 2017 when the former Riyadh Governor, prince Turki bin Abdullah Al Saud was arrested for allegations including corruption over contracts for the Metro scheme.  

Riyadh Metro Rolling Stock Interior

Riyadh Metro Rolling Stock Interior

New Champlain Bridge (Canada - Due for 2019 completion) 

Crossing the St. Lawrence River and Saint Lawrence Seaway, the New Champlain Bridge in Canada is currently the largest work site in North America.  

The new 3.4-kilometre long Samuel-de-Champlain Bridge is an asymmetric cable-stayed bridge. A concrete tower stands at 168m high concrete tower to hold the cables in a harp arrangement. 

The project faced a challenging timeline, and as such featured extensive use of pre-manufacture and assembly of concrete and steel parts off-site.  

The £3bn project will have six lanes for vehicles and a multiuse lane for pedestrians and cyclists to serve as a gateway to the city of Montreal.  

Once the replacement bridge opens this year, the old Champlain bridge will be demolished. The current bridge sees 50M crossings a year, making it the busiest bridge in Canada.  

Construction of the new Champlain bridge, Montreal, Canada

Construction of the new Champlain bridge, Montreal, Canada

South North Water Transfer Project (China – No set completion date) 

The ambitious project to move vast quantities of water from Southern China to the North is one of the oldest and most expensive engineering projects in history.  

First discussed by Chairman Mao Ze Dong as early as 1952, the project has so far cost an estimated £61bn with no completion date in sight.  

The project is comprised of three huge canals to transfer 44.8bn cubic meters of fresh water annually from the Yangtze river in the south, where water is plentiful, to the north, which is more industrialised and lacks water supplies.  

The Eastern Route will upgrade the existing Grand Canal, the largest artificial river in the world, while the Central Route flows from the upper reaches of the Han River (a tributary of Yangtze River) to Beijing and Tianjin. The Western Route goes from three tributaries of Yangtze River near the Bayankala Mountain to provinces like Qinghai, Gansu, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia and Ningxia. 

The on-going construction of the huge canals led to over 300,000 people being relocated, which generated controversy when it was reported some were forced from their homes.  

Central Route of the South-North water transfer system

Central Route of the South-North water transfer system


Dubai Creek Tower, (Dubai - Due for 2020 completion) 

Dubai is already known as the home of the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, but is set to beat that record with the Dubai Creek Tower.  

The new observation tower will bypass the Burj Khalifa by almost 100m to take the title of the world’s tallest free-standing structure, and will dwarf the next tallest similar tower, the Tokyo Skytree by 200m.  

Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, also known for the World Trade Centre transport hub in New York, designed the huge tower.  

The final height of the tower is set to be over 900m, compared to the 828m of the Burj Khalifa. 

Foundations for the tower were completed in May 2017, and project is set to complete construction in 2020 and the tower will fully open to the public in 2021.  

Dubai Creek Tower Rendering

Dubai Creek Tower Rendering

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