Visiting Germany’s Rastatt Tunnel

The exponential development of technology means that I am called upon less and less frequently to pack a bag and carry out a site visit IN REAL LIFE! Make no mistake there is no substitute for visiting a project in person. The story is better, the photos are better, the report is better. But the reality is that magazines don’t have much travel budget these days and the information kept by project teams is better than ever (usually) and so I find myself increasingly asked to call site teams using Skype or the old fashioned telephone and write the story from London.

Every now and then though, I inveigle my way onto a live project and get to meet the amazing people bringing the ideas for improving connectivity, providing essential services and improving economic growth to life. In Germany recently Jörg, Ursula, Martin, Sören and Ulrich of the Hochtief/Ed Züblin joint venture took time out of their 12 hour day (at least!) to talk to me about creation of the incredible Rastatt Tunnel.

But first I had to get there……..

Arriving at Stuttgart airport the night before was no problem. My flight was on time. The journey was short. With hindsight however hiring a car and heading out onto the Autobahn at night for a two hour drive over to Karlsruhe was perhaps not my best idea. For starters the car was automatic and I couldn’t remember what I was supposed to do. The last time I had driven an automatic car I was in Atlantic City for NCE magazine reporting on a collapsed casino and managed to crash it twice by not putting it into park properly.

Parking was not my concern however. Once I worked out that D meant drive I was fine, but the Autobahn at night can be a little hair raising if you are driving at 60mph.  I was overtaken by many, many lorries and the odd supercar driven at 200mph. I called my husband who told me to drive faster.

I also had trouble finding the site where the team were waiting to talk me through the unique tunnelling scheme. The shallow depth of construction for the two 4km long tunnels and the existing railway above meant that some exciting ground freezing methods would be needed as a precaution to maintain the integrity of the ground as the Herrenknecht TBM drove through it.

After driving around it and being rescued by Jorg and Ulrich we got to work and you can read the full article here:


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