European conferences draw the crowds Oct 2011
Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk
- In a calendar of tunnelling industry events that is becoming more crowded with each new season, organisers of two leading conferences at the start of the 2011-2012 season can be well pleased with the success of their efforts.
- The 60th Geomechanics Colloquy in Salzburg on the 13-14 October attracted close to 1,000 delegates while the AFTES conference in Lyon last week from 17-19 October also enjoyed almost 1,000 delegates with more than 2,500 visitors entering freely to the accompanying exhibition of more than 160 stands.
- Attendance at these European gatherings is a clear indication of the growth of tunnelling into a mainstream activity of heavy civil engineering, rather than as the unavoidable alternative of the past, with major projects through central Europe presenting an increase in business for contractors, consultants, manufacturers and suppliers alike.
- Together with stands hosted by the leading manufacturers and suppliers, there were exhibits and presentations that promoted major projects including the Lyon-Torino high-speed railway project; the St Gotthard baseline rail project and the Koralm high-speed rail link in Austria; with leading consulting engineering firms and contractors staking high-profile presences.
- The Geocolloquium in Salzburg is held every year starting on the second Thursday of October and is accompanied every second year with a Tunnel Day on the Wednesday. Rather than the Tunnel Day this year, the organisers hosted three workshops to discuss the topics 'Environmental impact assessments - chance or fetter for projects', 'Computational Methods in Geomechanics - Failure Mechanism and Parameter Identification', and 'High Capacity Geothermal Power Generation'. The programme of presentations over Thursday and Friday included a session on lessons learned from accidents that have occurred around the world, and possible preventative measures.
- In Lyon the general comment was that it felt like a second ITA congress for 2011. The event, organised by AFTES, the French Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, and supported by the national tunnelling associations of Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Portugal as well as the ITA (International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association) ensured a programme of lectures that covered a wide range of projects and topics. Partner organisations in Lyon included SNCF and CETU and other government clients of significant tunnelling projects. AFTES also celebrated its 40th year of activity at the event, which drew extra focus and attention.
- TunnelTalk attended both events, distributing its 2010 Annual Review publication and signing new readers to our free weekly Alert distribution list. As well as working hard during the day at the exhibition and in the lectures, the evening social events provided opportunities to connect with colleagues and friends and establish new contacts.
- Both venues were perfect facilities to host the delegations and the exhibitions. The Salzburg congress hall had exhibition stands over three floors that had delegates passing by as they moved in and out of the lecture theatre. Stands on the upper floor missed the general gathering that took place on the ground and first floors but the delegates filtered into the exhibition areas well. Two particular points make the Salzburg meeting one of the most appreciated on the circuit. First, there are no simultaneous sessions. The one session of lectures in the auditorium is attended by all delegates and encourages lively debate during the discussion periods of each session. Excellent English-German translation keeps the whole audience in touch with each topic and ensures full appreciation of the presentations. The venue also offers free wi-fi internet connection which keeps delegates and exhibitions connected to offices and website.
Sumptuous venues hosted events in Lyon and Salzburg
- The AFTES congress is convened every three years for three days and was this year held at the Lyon congress centre that opened only five years ago. Again the organisation was top class. Two simultaneous sessions of lectures had delegates moving from one room to the other via the elevators and there was no complimentary wi-fi connection for delegates or exhibitors but the exhibition area, all on the same floor at ground level, was open from 8am to 6pm each day and well attended by crowds of delegates and visitors. It is suggested that the next event in three years time will again be held in Lyon, which would be welcome news to those who attended this year.
- Both events set a high standard of conference organisation, management and promotion that others setting up conferences in the annual calendar should note.
- Delegates in the future will become more selective in the events they choose to attend and the list of conferences, workshops and diary dates grows ever longer. For TunnelTalk we will meet delegates again at the conference in Amsterdam and Shanghai in November and at STUVA in Berlin in December before the 2012 season begins. See you there!
The impact of Environmental Impact Assessments - TunnelCast, Sept 2011
2010 Annual Review - TunnelTalk
Diary Dates - TunnelTalk
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