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The Channel Tunnel

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Over a century of history
From Napoleon’s time to the mid 19th century, many ideas or
proposals for a fixed link appeared. Geotechnical
investigations evidenced the presence of Chalk strata adequate
for tunnelling. French engineer Thomé de Gamond spent most
of his life attempting to find practical solutions. In the 1880’s,
undersea tunnelling actually started at Shakespeare Cliff and
Sangatte, but was stopped for political reasons. The nearly 1.8
km dug on each side were found intact in UK (1987) and
France (1958). In 1974, a tunnel scheme was stopped for
political reasons on British side. In 1979 the European
Channel Tunnel Group initiated studies for various private
railway tunnel schemes. A competition was organized by the
French and British governments in 1985. Four main projects
were submitted : Euroroute, a hybrid solution of a bridgetunnel-bridge, Europont, a suspended bridge, Transmanche
Express, four bored tunnels allowing both railway and road
traffics, and Eurotunnel, a rail shuttle service for road vehicles
with provision for through trains, using 3 tunnels, two for rail
and one for maintenance. The concession to build and operate
the Fixed Link across the Channel was awarded on 20th
January 1986 to France-Manche and Channel Tunnel Group
subsequently to become Eurotunnel (ET) and Transmanche
Link (TML) in March 1986.
Ground Rules & Time Line
1974- Initial tunnel ideas gather but abandoned.
1978-British & French discussions resumed.
1983-Frensh & British banks & contractors propose
tunnel scheme.
1984 British and French agree to common safety,
environmental, and security concerns.
Ground Rules & Time Line
1985-French & British governments ask for fixed-link
1986 The project was awarded to Channel Tunnel
Group/FranceManche a.k.a. Eurotunnel and declared
owner of 55-year concession for the link.
Ground Rules & Time Line
1987 the “Concession Contract” was awarded to
Channel Tunnel Group/FranceMache (CTG/FM) bid
for US$5.5 billion and ended on Dec. 15, 1994 with a
fully operational station.
The project was 19 months late and had a cost
overrun of some US$3 billion (total construction cost
of US$7.1 billion).
On 1 December 1990, Englishman Graham Fagg and
Frenchman Phillippe Cozette broke through the
service tunnel with the media watching.
Phases for the Project
Inception-Historical background, overall objectives, political
climate, and pre-feasibility studies.
Development-Overall planning, feasibility studies, financing,
and conceptual design.
Implementation-Detail design, construction, installation,
testing, and commissioning.
Closeout-Reflection on overall performance, settlement of
claims, financial status, and post-project evaluation.
Project Proposal
A 32-mile (51.5 km) double-rail tunnel
Will accommodate through-trains & special car-and-
truck-carrying shuttle trains.
Their bid was US$5.5 billion.
The country with the highest standard would prevail.
New Technology
New technology being used.
State-of-the-art laser and computer tech.
The Chunnel project was completed but it was late
and over budget.
The new technology required significant
modifications during the project due to unexpected
conditions and changes required by various parties.
•Management principles
The whole project was beakdown into
groups: French Construction, UK
Transport System/Engineering.
Each group was divided into humanscaled,
manageable, sub-projects: tunnel
construction, terminal construction,
factory, M&E installation for Construction
Groups.Transport System/Engineering
Group was splited into primary systems
(power supply, catenary, ventilation,
•Quality system
The need for a global, planned, approach
for the achievement of quality led to a
classification allowing flexibility, with
depending on the criticality of
tasks: quality requirements are identical
all tasks, but the methodology for
management of this quality is graded from
level 1 to level 3, according to complexity,
“ maturity ” of the technology used, and
impact of a disorder on the overall works
Inception Phase
The ideas was to create a fixed transportation link
between England and France.
This would create a spur of economic development.
Improve trade using the new alternative high-speed
The Implementation Phase
Not agreeing in details resulted in eventual delays and
cost overruns.
Warning signs of rolling stock had not yet been
designed (vehicle and freight cars).
No contingency was set aside to cover “unknown
unknonws” (Ventilation system).
The specifications for British rolling stock and French
rolling stock were not the same.
The Implementation Phase
With costs out of control, fixed-priced contract were
awarded to contractors in order to have any chance of
winning the bid and not risk losing the bid to next
lowest bidder.
Contractors assumed an optimistic case, and since
underground construction is rife with changed
Early Problems
No air-conditioning was included costing US$200
million more.
The Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) approved
designs that weren’t within the original concession
Thus indicating possible problems with initiation and
Early Problems
The lack of defined scope makes resource planning,
cost estimating, and budgeting difficult.
Return on Investment (R.O.I.) assumptions made in
the planning stages may not prove accurate. Leaving a
trail of unhappy investors and stakeholders.
Early Problems
From US$5.5 Billion to US$7.1 Billion
Ongoing safety requirements changes sought by ICG
continued to create negative impact.
Not enough was understood to limit the impact of
known and unknown risks.
Contractual errors were made in the estimates and
risk allocation method, costing additional US$2.25
Early Problems
Passenger doors be widened from 600mm to 700mm.
Cost increase from US$9 million to US$7O million.
Objectives of a project need to be identified and
communicated clearly from the beginning. This was
the largest and most damaging failure of both
Early Problems
By not having the real goals, objectives, and scope
defined early, and by not implementation a contract
method that directly linked the rewards to contractors
at all levels of the procurement chain to those
The project was essentially run by bankers.
The Chunnel project had to be financed through
private sources without government aid or loan
The government was prohibited from regulating
prices except in monopolies.
Financing was pursed via equity and loan capital
Most shareholders seeking equity interest were
mostly in France and eventually Britain.
206 banks world wide participated with the loan.
The refinancing had to be pursued, should negative
variances in time and cost estimates occur.
The Development Phase
Consisted of detailed planning, communication,
agreements, and government approvals.
A large part of the struggles were do to inflexibility of
some characteristics of the project, and cross-cultural
exchange between 2 countries.
The Development Phase
A scope creep played a large part in the substantial
increase from its initial cost estimates, and its
completion behind schedule.
The scope was not fully assessed and the proper
precautions to prevent scope creep weren’t put in
The project team were able to understand the
complexity and were able to use previous research on
the soil, but in the end, the lack of continued focus on
the scope resulted in the frustrations of trying to do
too much.
Financial Issues during Closing
Focused on minimizing their losses, refused to accept
negotiated arrangements for settling some of the key
contracts disputes.
International Chamber of Commerce was involved
with helping the various competing sides to
bargaining table in an attempt to resolve key portions.
Success From a Project
Management Perspective
Contracts are a critical part of the procurement
management process.
Contracts define the scope of work, cost, timeline and
rules of engagement.
Risk planning and mitigation needs to be ongoing part
of each project.
The hope is that most material risk are identified,
quantified, and prioritized early enough so that an
effective risk response strategy can be establish.
Success From a
Project Management Perspective
3 tunnels total North, South, and Service.
46 contractors were hired.
The tunneling itself was finished 3 months ahead of
Each team member has a responsibility for quality.
Quality requirements were mostly defined up-front,
quality planning, quality assurance, and quality
Success From a
Project Management Perspective
Team work was necessary to complete this project.
It was estimated that 15,000 workers were employed
on the project.
From a P.O.V. quality management was a success.
The completion of the project was rushed to allow
operations to begin before the entire effort was
The tunnel was actually completed.
Teamwork and communication were broken down
into several key areas.
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