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Italians sweep the board at the International Tunnelling Awards

Italian contractor Toto Costruzioni Generali was the big winner at last week’s NCE International Tunnelling Awards, claiming two prizes for its work on the Sparvo tunnel on the Variante di Valico A1 motorway project.

Toto was named tunnelling contractor of the year and also picked up the gong for tunnelling project of the year for projects worth  up to $500M (£305M).

Its client Autostrade per L’Italia also picked up the client of the year award.

The project broke records for the size of the tunnel and for the progress achieved.

Toto completed twin 2.5km long, 15.62m diameter tunnels in just 20 months. Breakthrough on the second bore  was in July.

To ensure a high level of occupational safety and speedy tunnelling performance, the contractor opted for a Herrenknecht earth pressure balance tunnel boring machine with a shield diameter of 15.55m, a world record at that time.

HS2 collaboration vital

Treasury body Infrastructure UK’s  aim to make time savings of 50% and cut costs by 30% on the High Speed 2 would only be achieved if the industry works in a truly collaborative way said project promoter HS2 Ltd chairman Doug Oakervee.

Oakervee was speaking at the NCE International Tunnelling Awards, which sought to recognise excellence in project delivery.

“If the project follows business as usual it will be a failure,” he said. “We have to change our culture as an industry.”

Oakervee said a truly collaborative working environment was essential to project success.

The entire machine was explosion-proof to cope with the expected gaseous soils.

It included a double-walled encased tunnel belt conveyor that was additionally pressurised. There was also an efficient ventilation system.

The judges said success on the project came from a “truly joint approach” by the client, contractor, designer and all other stakeholders.

“The use of innovative solutions, attention to detail around planning and risk management and the engagement of staff and stakeholders makes this an exemplar of how to deliver a complex tunnelling project,” they said.

Of Toto, the judges said it had demonstrated “sustained success” through “the application of innovative techniques to cope with some very difficult tunnelling environments”. 

“They are well organised, highly experienced and for clients provide very reliable solutions,” they said.

The judges added that Autostrade per L’Italia had set new standards for the way an intelligent client should behave. 

“By engaging and working closely with the entire supply chain, it has delivered a series of highly complex underground projects and created world class infrastructure for the benefit of the public,” they said.

Toto Costruzioni Generali president and chief executive Alfonso Toto said that success was down to the ability and expertise of the technicians who drove and managed this machine.

The TBM and its 106 operators worked uninterruptedly 24 hours a day, seven days a week to excavate the tunnel and mount the lining segments in record time.

The tunnel is part of a new two lane motorway connecting Florence and Bologna.

Find out about all the winners here

Readers' comments (1)

  • stephen gibson

    Could the key element of Autostrade per L'Italia's success be that its not like the Highway Agency at all. Its privately owned by the Benneton Family and raised most money from private tolls.

    As such, it can be more strategically focused on what adds long term value than the Highway Agency.

    That said, I know a simple short tunnel in Claviere (Italy) which has been under construction since it missed the completion date of the Turin winter Olympics in 2006. So perhaps the Italians have some of the same problems also.

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