Cover: Models for financing, cost and risk assessment by Konrad Bergmeister

Models for financing, cost, and risk assessment

Major railway tunnel projects in Europe



Edited by Konrad Bergmeister





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The group of ‘Long tunnel project directors’ has drawn up a report on topics concerning financing, costs, timing, and risks, including the controlling and auditing of large railway infrastructure projects in Europe.

On the initiative of the Alptransit Gotthard, namely Peter Zuber (1939 – 2011), of the Lötschberg axis, namely Franz Kilchenmann and of the transnational Alpetunnel GEIE now Lyon–Turin, namely Jean Brulard, the group ‘Project Manager of the Long Railway Alpine Tunnels’ was set up in 1993. From 1999 until 2010 was Peter Teuscher and from 2011 on Konrad Bergmeister the Chairman of the group; as a secretary served the past 20 years Hans-Peter Vetsch and from 2018 on also David Unteregger. The aim was to exchange experiences on similar or identical projects, such as operation, maintenance, safety, costs, and construction technology. Later, the persons responsible for the base tunnel projects at Semmering, Brenner, and Lötschberg as well as those responsible for the Channel Tunnel were included in the group. The formation of this group and the valuable exchange of experience have led to cost-effective, cross-border solutions.

The group has been meeting about twice a year for over 25 years to exchange information and experience. During these meetings, the need to document these issues from the point of view of the countries participating became clear. The aim was to explain the most important framework conditions in building large infrastructure projects and to pass on the knowledge obtained for future projects, so that interested readers can have an overview of the various methods used for funding, cost and risk management, and for auditing and controlling tunnel projects in the various countries.

The individual topics were illustrated, using specific terminology that varies from one project to another, for the following large railway infrastructure projects in the different European states.

Austria Large projects to expand railway stations and stretches, including the Semmering, Koralm, and Brenner Base Tunnels
Germany Large railway projects, including Stuttgart 21, Wendlingen–Ulm, VDE 8 (Berlin–Nuremberg)
Norway Large railway projects, with a special focus on the Follo Line Oslo–Ski project
Slovenia Railway projects with a special focus on the Divača–Koper line
Switzerland Funding and expansion of rail infrastructure, with special focus on the Lötschberg, Gotthard, and Ceneri Base Tunnels

The level of knowledge on the individual topics varies from country to country, and they are therefore not described equally. What is uniformly clear is that public funding for large railway projects must be guaranteed, at the latest, before tendering the main works and up to the end of the project. The funds must be made available according to the progress of the works and in a timely manner.

Cross-border projects require a special level of attention and higher risk coverage because of their complexity. Special focus is paid to the BBT and the TELT.

BBT Brenner Base Tunnel – cross-border project between Austria and Italy
TELT Tunnel Euralpin Lyon–Turin – cross-border project between France and Italy

Also, for a long period, representatives from the Channel Tunnel linking Folkestone, Kent (UK), and Coquelles, Pas-de-Calais (France), and recently from the Fehmarnbelt Tunnel linking the Danish island of Lolland with the German island of Fehmarn participated actively in the meetings.

Cost and risk management requires structured and systematic procedures starting with the earliest project phases. Identifiable risks, looking forward to a certain project date, must be quantified and covered by financing. Also, financial provision must be made for as yet unknown and unforeseen influences. Timing, costing, and risks must be updated regularly (at least once a year), and the pertinent project requirements must also be adjusted and taken into consideration in the financing.

Besides the audits of timing, costing, risks, and activities, reporting is another fundamentally important aspect of large projects. The parties responsible for the project must inform the entire project team, at every level, of the timings, costing, risks, and activities, implement trust-building measures, and actively contribute during the entire construction of the project.

This document, taken into account the information available until June 2019, is meant both for parties responsible for large infrastructure projects and for decision makers, financing stakeholders, project engineers, and project managers as well as for organisations responsible for future projects both in politics and in management.

People involved in tunnelling underpass mountains and overcome barriers, connect cultures/languages, shape countries and bring continents together!

Vienna, July 2021

Konrad Bergmeister, Chairman