Winners of the 2017 ITA Awards 16 Nov 2017

Shani Wallis, TunnelTalk

Norway was the recipient of high profile recognition at the 2017 Brunel Awards of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association last night in Paris with presentations to Norwegians for the Lifetime Achievement Award, Young Tunneller of the Year and Project of the Year of up to €50 million.

Einar Broch of Norway (left) accepts his Lifetime Achievement Award from ITA President Tarcisio Celestino

Hosted in association with the international conference of the French Tunnelling and Underground Space Tunnelling Association AFTES, the winners of the nine categories of ITA Awards were announced and presented with their certificates and Brunel trophies during the gala dinner of the three-day conference.

Einar Broch, a past President of the ITA Association from 1986 to 1989 and a geotechnical and civil engineer in the field of hydroelectric project development was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Based in Trondheim, Norway, Broch has been involved in many of the major hydro schemes built in Norway during the 1970s, 80s and 90s and is known around the world for his contribution to the design and construction of so many important and outstanding hydroelectric installations all of which have involved the excavation of long water course tunnels and deep shafts, magnificent rock caverns machine halls, and the construction of iconic dams. In accepting his Award from current ITA President Tarcisio Celestino of Brazil, Broch recalled his association with the ITA as among the most rewarding of his career with his many friends, colleagues and collaborators also involved with the development and foundation of the Association from its very earliest days.

Tobias Andersson, Young Tunneller of the Year (right)
Tobias Andersson, Young Tunneller of the Year (right)

Young Tunneller of the Year for 2017 was awarded to Tobias Andersson, a young Norwegian forging a career in the world of tunnel engineering and construction.

The Norwegian project presented with the Outstanding Project of the year up to €50 million in value is the Fjærland hydro project. Comprising 2.5km of headrace tunnelling, 1.1km of penstock shafts, five Intake structures and two turbine installations, the €23 million project was completed between August 2015 and September 2017, under severe winter conditions. The project benefitted from positive cooperation between client, designer and contractor to reduce the original construction period by a full two years.

Presentation of the Fjærland hydro scheme as Project of the Year up to €50 million
Presentation of the Fjærland hydro scheme as Project of the Year up to €50 million

The shortlist of 30 finalists for the nine award categories were selected by the panel of judges from a total of 66 entries. During a day-long conference programme all shortlisted projects were presented by engineers associated with each. Among the finalist were projects of outstanding innovation, inspiration and complexity. Particular among these are the three projects in the safety initiative category and the three of the technical innovation category. While the awards went to the Telemach robotic system for changing disc cutters and the thermal imaging strength monitoring system for shortcrete respectively, the other shortlisted entries in each category were equally innovative and worthy.

The shortlisted entries for each category together with winner of each, is as follows.

Safety Initiative of the Year


  • BSCU SCL radial joint design (UK)
  • MineARC GuardIAN remote monitoring and diagnostics for refuge chambers (Australia)

Winner: Telemach cutterhead-disc robotic changing system (Hong Kong, China)

A semi-automatic multi-purpose robotic arm installed inside the front shield of a TBM aiming to safely replace disc cutters with the operator remaining inside the TBM control cabin. During the downtime, the arm is able to manoeuvre into the cutterhead chamber and perform cleaning and replacement of discs which weigh up to 300kg each. Part of the project was to redesign each cutter and its housing as a single unit replacing the current 11 separate pieces that need to be removed and refitted as part of each cutter change. The application of a robotic system for cutter changes is particularly beneficial for cutter changes on TBMs working under high pressure requiring hyperbaric interventions for manual cutter changes and maintenance.

Technical Innovation Product or Equipment of the Year


  • Automatic drilling jumbo (Finland)
  • RowaTrain self-driving trackless supply logistic system (Austria)

Winner: Strength monitoring of shotcrete using thermal imaging (UK)

SUMTI is a novel method of monitoring sprayed concrete strength gain using thermal imaging techniques. The system allows the strength of the whole shotcrete lining to be monitored continuously in real time from a secure position, brings benefits to safety, quality control and productivity. The system is easier to use, safer and quicker than exisiting methods and the data is accessible, auditable and traceable.

Technical Innovation Project of the Year


  • Implementing BIM concepts for the Karavanke Tunnel (Slovenia)
  • Trenchless construction of pedestrian underpasses using a rectangular box-jack
  • TBM at Havelock MRT Station (Singapore)

Winner: Enlargement of a TBM tunnel to create an underground expressway junction beneath a residential area - a first in global tunnelling (Japan)

New technologies were developed and introduced to construct the large 21.8m o.d. bifurcation section of a highway tunnel project from the main tunnel by trenchless construction directly under a residential area. The bifurcation was widened from the initial segmentally lined tunnel using a system of pregrouting and prototype excavators to complete the project safely.

Sustainability Initiative of the Year


  • ITO Metro Station (India)

Winner: Anacostia River CSO and drainage tunnel (USA)

As a major component of the DC Water CSO remediation program, the tunnel when complete will reduce sewer overflows into the Anacostia River by 98%. Existing overflow sewers are connected to the tunnel using 30m deep in-line shafts with a specially designed configuration to control inflow while reducing wear. The tunnel has a 100 year minimum design life and has been designed and constructed to reduce the carbon footprint of the project.

Project of the Year of up to €50 million


  • Kennedy Tunnel (Chile)
  • Southwark to City of London deep cable tunnel (UK)

Winner: Fjaerland hydropower plants (Norway)

Project of the Year of between €50 million and €500 million


  • Stockholm Citybanan Norrströmstunnel (Sweden)
  • Blue Plains CSO sewer and drainage tunnel (USA) Tùnel Emisor Poniente
  • wastewater conveyance (Mexico)

Winner: Hong Kong MTR Shatin to Central Link - Hin Keng to Diamond Hill Tunnel (China)

High-risk tunnelling for the 4km tunnel as part of a 17km railway line beneath urban Hong Kong using different tunnelling methods in complex and difficult geological conditions required drill+blast at only 6m above a live water supply tunnel; TBM crossing twice at 6m below an operating railway line; and cut-and-cover. Innovative alternative design for a large-span mined soft ground tunnel to reduce construction and safety risks. Redesign of the ventilation shaft improved programme surety; a total of 10 safety-related awards were earned as a result of recording no major accidents and an overall saving of 28,000m3 of excavation and 3,039 tonne of CO2 reduction.

Major Project of the Year of more than €500 million


  • Ottawa LRT, Confederation Line (Canada)
  • Delhi Metro Phase 3 expansion networks (India)
  • Tehran Metro Line 6 (Iran)

Winner: Doha Metro and rail lines (Qatar)

First phase of 85km network is planned to be in operation by 2020. The underground sections of a total 111.5km required more than 470,000 concrete segments and 21 TBMs were operating simultaneously to complete all TBM excavation within 26 months. The project breaks all records for construction and excavation of metro systems in a single project and under a budget of US$36 billion.

Innovative Underground Space Concept of the Year


  • Bostanci transit intermodal hub (Turkey)
  • Underground cemetery in tunnels (Israel)

Winner: Cavern masterplan to unlock hidden resources for sustainable city development (Hong Kong, China)

Rock caverns can be created to unleash the potential of the hidden resource of land and Hong Kong has formulated its first, unique and visionary Cavern Master Plan (CMP) to guide and facilitate territory-wide application of rock caverns for supporting continuous social and economic development of the city. With the launch of the CMP, numerous cavern projects covering a wide range of uses are being implemented in various strategic cavern areas delineated in the plan.

Young Tunneller of the Year:


  • Juan David Herrera (Colombia)
  • Roberto Schuerch (Switzerland)
  • Michele Janutolo Barlet (France)
  • Anthony Bauer (USA)

Winner: Tobias Andersson (Norway)

At the end of the presentation of all shortlisted entries, delegates voted for what they considered the best presentation and this year that accolade went to the team from Sweden for their presentation about the Stockholm Citybanan Norrströmstunnel project in the Project of the Year of between €50 million and €500 million.

On presenting all the Awards and the trophies to all the winners, ITA President Celestino congratulated the winners and all the shortlisted finalists and encouraged entries for the 2018 series of Awards, the conference day for finalists and presentation to winners for which will be at a venue in China. Nominations for the 2018 series will open early next year (2019) and entry forms for online submissions for each of the nine award categories will be available on the ITA Awards website.


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