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Parallel tunnels call

ONE OF the world's leading experts on safety in road tunnels has called for international guidelines to be established on the requirement for parallel service tunnels.

Speaking on Monday, Professor Alfred Haack, chief executive of German underground transportation research association STUVAC, said the only effective way of preventing deaths in the Mont Blanc fire would have been to evacuate people through a service tunnel.

'It is extremely tragic that the Mont Blanc Tunnel's system of safety refuges was not properly designed for such a fire,' he said.

However, he added that parallel tunnels were not always a practical option.

'It comes down to a question of finance. For later tunnels in Austria and Switzerland it is normal to have two bores but for tunnels with less than 10,000 -15,000 vehicles a day it is uneconomic to have two parallel tunnels.'

'If the tunnels are long with heavy traffic then it is best to have a parallel service tunnel but it depends on the length. For a 200m tunnel it is not necessary.'

He added: 'We have to discuss this on a European basis and set an international standard length above which service tunnels are required.'

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