Recent Evening Meetings

The BTS holds monthly evening meetings from September to June, generally on the third Thursday of the month. Unless otherwise stated, the meetings are at the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). Additional meetings are arranged by the BTS Young Members, by regional groups and as joint meetings with other societies. BTS Members can view recorded lectures on the ICE website for the first three months after the meeting. Thereafter the recordings are available for all to view and links are added below.


BTS January Meeting: Challenges of the Design and Construction at the Gotthard Base Tunnel, Switzerland

The 57 km long Gotthard Base Tunnel, a 9 billion Euro project, is the world’s longest railway tunnel. The main Breakthrough took place on the 15th October 2010. All 151.8 km of the overall system are complete and the tunnel has been in operation since 2016. This lecture will provide some feedback from the construction difficulties and lessons learnt from the two 30 km long southern TBM drives from Bodio to Faido under overburden reaching a maximum of 2,400 meters. The project overcame a major fault zone, squeezing ground conditions and rock bursts. The TBM was blocked by a collapse, and had to cross water-carrying faults with rock and water temperatures reaching 48°C. The project also needed to cross weak and potentially risky zones like the Piora Basin. A section of the tunnel was enlarged after squeezing rock nearly blocked the TBM drive. Expected water pressure exceeding 160 bars required suitable pre investigation equipment. A waterproofing system with sheet membrane was installed along the whole tunnel length and extensive testing was carried out. The presentation will give a general overview and go deeper in selected topics.


Yves Boissonnas, Head of Tunnelling, EMEA, SIKA

Joint BTSYM / ICE London Graduates and Students Committee lecture on Fire Safety

BOOKING IS REQUIRED. Please follow the link in the flyer. The lecture focus areas include: The legal requirements and duties imposed on employers and those responsible for managing fire safety. Guidance and reference documents. General Fire Precautions – What should be considered. Ensuring compliance and following best practice. The consequences of failure – offences and prosecution. Preplanning – Emergency Response.


David Harold, London Bridge Associates

Joint BTS/MinSouth meeting. Salt Mining in Cheshire

Winsford Salt Mine: From Drill and Blast to Automated Continuous Mining, will explore the historic method of drill and blast; focusing on the move from continuous miners to the automation of the miners and the benefits of automation. Alternative Mine Uses (AMU’s) which are in place to reduce the weather effect of a winter de-icing business will also be discussed.


Gordon Dunn, Compass Minerals UK

BTS February Meeting: Joint BGA/BTS meeting: Water and Tunnelling – lessons from 40 years of interesting problems.

David Hartwell was awarded the 13th Skempton medal by the BGA in 2018. In this lecture he will share his experience of ‘Water and Tunnelling - Lessons from 40 years of Interesting Problems’ The talk will highlight David’s experience in finding solutions to problems with groundwater associated with shafts and tunnels over the last 40 years. Along the way lessons were learnt, many of which do not appear in groundwater or soil mechanics text books. Two major projects will be highlighted: the Storebaelt tunnels in Denmark including pressure relief for the cross passages and the MOSES offshore dewatering scheme. The second major project was the recovery of the flooded Docklands Light Rail tunnel under the river Thames; freezing was considered but the scheme adopted included wells in the river and horizontal wells drilled from within the tunnel.


David Hartwell

BTSYM February Meeting: Bangkok Orange Line Metro Project

The Bangkok Orange Line metro project comprises approximately 4 km of twin bored tunnels, three stations boxes, three ventilation shafts and a cut and cover tunnel. Arup are working on the detailed design of this project for a Thai D&B contractor called Italian-Thai Developments. This talk will cover several interesting technical aspects of the project, as well as an overview of life on an assignment in Thailand.


Paul Bailie, Arup

BTS March Meeting: Elan Valley Aqueduct

The dams and conduits that form the Elan Valley Aqueduct system were built by Birmingham City Corporation between 1893 and 1904.The presentation will cover the history of the Victorian built Elan Valley Aqueduct with a look at some of the original construction techniques.The reasons why the new tunnels had to be built will be explained and the speakers will also describe the three tunnelling projects.


Ken MacGregor, Barhale; Paul Dennison, Severn Trent Water

BTSYM April Meeting: Ottawa Light Rail

The confederation line in Ottawa comprises 15 stations and stops; its centrepiece is a 2.5km long tunnel with three underground stations below downtown Ottawa. The mined construction method for the stations was chosen in order to minimise the impact to the surface. The underground stations are located directly adjacent to existing, sensitive and sometimes historic buildings requiring detailed studies of risks during construction and risk mitigation measures. This presentation will look at the detail behind the design and subsequent construction of three large caverns at shallow depth and twin track running tunnels in rock.


Thomas Schwind, Technical Director, Dr. Sauer & Partners

BTS April Meeting: Harding Prize

Presentations by the two finalists of this year's Harding Prize. The winner will be announced at the end of the meeting. The Harding Prize competition is named in honour of Sir Harold Harding, the founding Chairman of the BTS. The competition is open to young engineers aged 33 or under. Original paper submitted must address aspects of tunnelling which are considered of interest to the tunnelling industry, with the winning paper selected by a judging panel.


Eugene Kwan Lok Wong (University of Cambridge) presenting his paper: Deformation of framed structures due to tunnelling – a rational and practical assessment approach; and Sandeep Singh Nirmal (RITES Ltd), presenting his paper: Design of steel fiber reinforced concrete segment with curved radial joints

BTS AGM and BTS May Meeting: The Brunel Museum's Original Thames Tunnel Drawings, What They Reveal

This meeting will look at the collection of original Thames Tunnel drawings. Described as the most significant Brunel drawings ever to enter the public domain and acquired by the Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe, they cover the period when Marc Isambard Brunel was developing and executing (with the help of his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel) the construction of his Thames Tunnel, the first in the world under a navigable waterway. They reveal how his ideas started and evolved, pulling in and then discarding other contemporary inventions; how he won the conviction of his shareholders, then won them over, time and time again; how his audacious self-confidence and patience was challenged from all directions yet was finally rewarded. His achievement gave others the confidence to tunnel in soft grounds everywhere and laid the foundations for urban Metro systems throughout the world. Pictorially and conceptually, it seems just a few short steps from the Brunel tunnelling shield to a modern tunnel boring machine.


Bryn Bird (M retired) Brunel Museum

BTSYM June Meeting: Ground Movement due to Circular Shaft Construction in London Clay

Until recently, there were few well-documented case studies of circular shafts, which made it difficult to estimate reliable ground movements arising from such construction. Careful interpretation of field observations of ground surface settlement during construction of 27 circular shafts built for Crossrail, London Power Tunnels and Northern Line Extension, together with centrifuge model testing in the geotechnical centrifuge at Cambridge University, provides new insight into the ground movements arising from circular shaft construction. Dr Faustin and Professor Lord Mair present normalised charts to estimate the settlement due to circular shaft construction in London Clay with due consideration for different shaft geometries and construction methods.


BTS June Meeting: Novaliches to Balara Aqueduct number four

The Novaliches to Balara Aqueduct number four (NBAQ4) project is part of Manila Water’s improvement and expansion initiatives and is one of the largest and most important infrastructure projects undertaken by them to date. The project involves the construction of a new intake facility at the La Mesa reservoir, a 7.3 kilometre tunnelled aqueduct and an outlet facility at the Balara Water Treatment Plant. The existing aqueduct system (aqueducts 1, 2, and 3) is required to continuously deliver 1600 million litres per day (MLD) of raw water to Balara Treatment Plants 1 and 2. Built in 1929, 1956 and 1968 respectively, they are nearing, if not already exceeding, the service life of 50 years for concrete structures. Through the project, the construction of a fourth aqueduct, which is designed to latest seismic standards, will enable the assessment and rehabilitation of the existing aqueducts. NBAQ4 will deliver water to approximately seven million people in Manila. The PhP 5.3 billion (USD 104 million) contract was awarded to a joint venture of CMC di Ravenna (Italy), First Balfour, Inc. (Philippines), and Chun Wo Engineering (Hong Kong) in August 2017.


Brendan Henry, Practice Leader - Tunnels and Underground Space, GHD

Meetings held in previous years can be found in the Evening Meetings Archive.