European infrastructure project watch for Breakbulk pros

We take a look at five huge projects defining infrastructure in Europe.

Breakbulk activity makes these projects possible. Take a look to see what kind of developments are characterising large-scale construction, and thus out-of-gauge freight movement, throughout Europe.

European infrastructure megaprojects to watch for project cargo professionals

HS2 – UK

Go ahead for the controversial HS2 railway were given the go ahead by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson in early 2020.

First phase of construction connects London to Birmingham in the Midlands, over 150km, and is due for completion by 2031. Phase two, a V-shaped, two-pronged route connecting Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds in Northern England, follows, and is expected to be completed by 2040 at the latest.

Construction doesn’t just involve new track. It also means new stations, expanding existing stopping places and terminals. New rolling stock is also to be ordered.

From the above we can infer plenty of project cargo services will be needed to complete HS2.

Borselle 1 & 2 Windfarms – The Netherlands

Rhenus Offshore Logistics is leading the project cargo operations for the Borselle Windfarms.

As of late 2019, Rhenus has started moving equipment, machinery and supplies for the windfarms’ alpha and beta offshore substations, as well as delivery modules to build the windfarms themselves.

Project originator Ørsted owns the Borselle project. Ultimately, the two farms will deliver 752 MW of power from a site 22 km off the coast of Zeeland, northern Netherlands.

94 Siemens Gamesa 8 MW wind turbines will be installed, starting in April 2020. A total of 94 monopile foundations will be built too, at depths between 14m and 39.7m. Each completed turbine weighs 1,118 tons with a height of 76m.

Renewable energy continues to be a key driver of project cargo activity throughout Europe. The breakbulk sector benefits greatly from the dimensions of wind farm equipment. Blades are over 110ft long, for instance, requiring a specialist touch to transport them to project sites. 

Brenner Base Tunnel – Austria/Italy

Brenner Base Tunnel will transform European rail logistics once fully operational in December 2028.

It will also be the longest underground rail connection anywhere in the world.

The project covers a 55km long track, tunnelling beneath the Brenner Pass in the Eastern Alps, connecting Innsbruck, Austria, and Fortezza, Italy. 

As well as helping eliminate road-based tailbacks on the topside, it will also form the Trans-European Network, connecting Line 1 from Berlin to Palermo.

In total, 230km of tunnels, including the main span, exploratory, and support tunnels, will be bored for Brenner Base. 109km has been drilled so far.

Project is lead by Galleria di Base del Brennero-Brenner Basistunnel, a joint venture from Austrian and Italian companies. Project costs are forecast to reach €8.7bn. Herrenknecht is the main machinery supplier.

Sognefjord Floating Tunnel – Norway

Winding its way through some spectacular Scandinavian scenery is Highway E39, a stunning 1,100km route taking navigating beautiful Norwegian fjords, mountains and lakes. But while it may be beautiful, it is slow. 

Seven ferry crossings along the route means anyone travelling E39’s full length is facing journey times of 21 hours. Given the motorway connects Trondheim and Kristiansand, two important cities, Norway’s government has plans afoot to slash transit times.

The solution? Sognafjord Floating Tunnel. 

Rather than building a bridge across Sognafjord, known as “the King of the Fjords”, the solution will be below the waves. Not a conventional tunnel, as Sognafjord is 1,300m deep, but an experimental submerged floating tunnel.

The project involves construction of two road tunnels that are essentially a pair of long concrete tubes. These are suspended from pontoons spaced 800m apart. Tunnels are suspended roughly 100m below the surface of the fjord’s water. 

This would be a massive undertaking, in terms of commissioning components, and their ultimate delivery. As no such tunnel design as been attempted in the world so far, it would present some unique logistical challenges. 

Total project costs are expected to reach $50bn. Timeframe? If it starts now, the project won’t be completed until 2050 at the earliest.

Akkyu Nuclear Power Plant – Turkey

Turkey’s first nuclear power plant is currently under construction in Mersin Province on the country’s south coast.

The project leads and logistics companies are actually all Russian. Rosatom has taken on overall development and construction of the 4,800 MW plant. Power will be generated rom four units, boasting individual capacities of 1,200 MW, using VVER-1200 pressurised water reactors.

Building work started in 2018. First unit operations are expected to become operational by 2023.

Barrus Logistics carried on the first equipment export loads in 2019. While the company doesn’t reveal what the consignments actually held and weighed, it does say they were transported by sea via St. Petersburg to the port of Mersin, Turkey.

Akkyu heralds a nuclear-powered future for Turkey’s economic development. Turkey has made plans for a further two nuclear power plants. One is being led by a Franco-Japanese consortium, planning to build a second nuclear plant at Sinop, whereas the third will be built at as a yet to be decided site by a Chinese firm using US-sourced tech. 

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