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January 24, 2020

 Road tunnels and technology in an operational perspective
Arild Petter Sovik, Tunntech Global News

PIARC presenting latest reports on tunnel operations

Written by  Oct 12, 2019

Thousands of the world’s foremost experts in road infrastructure, transport and technology met in Abu Dhabi this October for the first ever World Road Congress to be held in the Middle East. Organized by the World Road Association (PIARC) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport (DoT), the major event attract more than 5,000 delegates from 120 countries and with at least 40 government ministers.

The Technical Committee D.5, Road Tunnel Operations, have a good reputation on delivery of relevant reports on sustainable road tunnel operations, and the committee contributed also this time to an improved understanding of tunnel operations and safety management. 

Since the first World Road Congress held in Paris in 1908, PIARC has organized Congresses every four years with the aim of sharing worldwide techniques, innovations, political strategies, trends and developments, best practices and experiences in the fields of road, infrastructures and transport between Ministers, governments, private sector, road and transport administrations and organizations, academics, solutions’ providers, experts and practitioners from more than 120 countries across the planet.

Since 1957, date of creation by PIARC of the "Committee on Road Tunnels", the Association has conducted an ongoing activity on all matters relating to the operation of road tunnels: geometry, equipment and maintenance, operating, safety and environment.

The new technical reports of PIARC in the field of Road tunnel operations are:

  • General Principles to Improve Accessibility for Persons with Reduced Mobility in Road Tunnels
  • Introduction to the RAMS Concept for Road Tunnel Operation
  • Prevention and Mitigation of Tunnel-Related Collisions
  • Road Tunnels: Vehicle Emissions and Air Demand for Ventilation

General Principles to Improve Accessibility for Persons with Reduced Mobility in Road Tunnels

The report provides the general principles that apply when making allowances for persons with reduced mobility in road tunnels. The means of facilitating their ability to raise the alarm, and to evacuate in critical situations, are examined. 

The report is aimed at tunnel owners, designers and safety officers working on new, or refurbishment road tunnel projects, as well as tunnel operating bodies and the emergency services.

Introduction to the RAMS Concept for Road Tunnel Operation

Road tunnel operators are increasingly aiming to adopt a sustainable approach to road tunnel operation whenever possible. They are thus starting to look into ways of optimising the lifecycle performance of systems and equipment, whilst at the same time guaranteeing the required level of safety. One possible means of achieving this is based on monitoring the Reliability, Availability, Maintainability and Safety (RAMS) of systems/equipment, based on pre-defined requirements. 

The aim of this report is to provide an initial introduction to the RAMS concept. It first explains why and when the concept should be applied within the context of road tunnel operation and then goes on to describe how the concept can be applied by using the standard EN 50126 as a basis.

Prevention and Mitigation of Tunnel-Related Collisions

Because a road tunnel is an enclosed space, many tunnel safety measures are rightfully aimed at controlling the risks of fires and dangerous goods. However, practice generally shows that most injuries and fatalities in tunnels are actually related to traffic incidents that could also happen on the open road. This means that measures to assure traffic safety are also very important.

The report presents and recommends possible organizational and technical measures one can implement to lower the probability (prevention) or the mechanical consequences (mitigation) of tunnel related collisions, that is, collisions in which the specific characteristics of a tunnel play a role in either the cause or the effect.

Road Tunnels: Vehicle Emissions and Air Demand for Ventilation

The design of a road tunnel ventilation system must consider fresh-air demand for maintaining in-tunnel air quality during normal and congested traffic operations and the control of smoke and hot gases in case of fire. The ventilation capacity to manage a fire incident frequently drives the ventilation sizing in highway and non-urban tunnels. Nevertheless, the fresh-air requirement for dilution during normal and congested operation, or special environmental constraints, can be dominant in tunnels with high traffic volumes and frequent congested traffic.

This report provides emission rates and an assessment methodology to support the tunnel ventilation system designer in establishing the minimum fresh-air demand for adequate in-tunnel air quality and visibility thresholds.


The World Road Association-PIARC was established in 1909. It brings together the road administrations of 122 governments and has members -individuals, companies, authorities and organizations- in over 140 countries. Within PIARC the Road Tunnel Operations Committee is focused on tunnel safety.

Link: https://www.piarc.org/en/  


Last modified on Monday, 21 October 2019 09:01
Arild Petter Sovik

Editor, Tunntech Global News

E-mail:  arild.sovik@tunntech.no
Phone:  +47 950 88 793


News coverage based on many years of experience from key positions in the industry. Former National Tunnel Manager at the road authorities (NO), senior principal development manager at a major tunnel contractor company (NO) and experience from a wide number of activities in national and international networks. 


Website: www.sovikconsulting.no
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