Wed 19th June 2013
The British Tunnelling Society (BTS) is an associated society of the UK Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and was formed in 1971 to provide a forum for meetings and discussion for the mutual benefit of anyone with an interest in a wide range of tunnel related matters. Its primary aim is to promote excellence in tunnelling via the open exchange of information between its members and tunnellers throughout the world. Meetings are held monthly at the Institution of Civil Engineers, One Great George Street, Westminster, London and normally take the form of a presentation to the audience on a particular tunnel project or a specific aspect of tunnelling. The variety of the presentations is illustrated by the topics discussed at recent meetings and those arranged for coming dates (click on 'Meetings'). Anyone interested in the subject of a proposed meeting is welcome to attend. The contact details of the BTS are provided on the 'Contact' page.
The BTS is one of the most active societies at the ICE. It has a total of approximately 900 individual and corporate members and operates at national and regional levels.
Tunnelling has become a much more sophisticated discipline in the past 20 years. The introduction of the Slurry Shield Machine and the Earth Pressure Balance Machine (the former pioneered by British engineers in London in 1972) have resulted in tunnels being constructed in ground conditions which had previously been too difficult to tackle using more conventional methods. A prime example is the Jubilee Line Extension in London, which, from the civil engineering/tunnelling standpoint, is a very successful project. It has brought London Underground mass transit services to areas of south and east London which had previously been denied them due to the difficult tunnelling conditions presented by the water-bearing sands and gravels in the underlying strata. Sprayed concrete tunnel linings have also become more widely used in the UK following their successful use in Europe and on a variety of projects in the UK, including the Channel Tunnel Crossover, the Round Hill Tunnel and the Heathrow Terminal 5 project. Other techniques which are now available to the modern tunneller include compaction and compensation grouting, ground reinforcement, ground freezing, and the modern usage of compressed air. Microtunnelling and directional drilling are also increasingly popular as these techniques continue to improve. These methods are often preferred for the installation of new services as disruption to the ground surface is minimised. As cities and towns become more and more developed, the opportunities to expand infrastructure at ground level become more limited and the alternative of creating underground space becomes more attractive.
Traditionally British consultants and contractors have looked abroad for work, partly due to the variable workload in the UK. At present BTS members are employed in considerable numbers worldwide and are highly regarded in their ability to design and build tunnels for any purpose and in all types of geology.
If anyone wishes to find out more about the British Tunnelling Society they should contact the BTS secretariat. A brochure is also available, free of charge, entitled "The Case for Creating Underground Space for the 21st Century".