Switzerland rolls out the WTC red carpet 25 Apr 2013
TunnelTalk reporting
Organisers report that preparations are moving along at high speed for the World Tunnel Congress (WTC) gathering for 31 May to 7 June in Geneva, Switzerland. Convened to host also the 39th General Assembly of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, the congress is said to be taking shape nicely.
Entrance and main hall of the congress venue

Entrance and main hall of the congress venue

As the programme takes shape, it is becoming clearer that the WTC2013 event will differ from previous congresses in several ways. There is to be a considerably greater number of sessions in the technical programme and specific committees of the ITA will conduct independent events to further their work. More social events are also planned to ensure an enjoyable time for delegates and their partners during their stay in the cosmopolitan yet charming lake-side city.
The venue for the event is the Centre International de Conférences Genève (CICG), which is located close to the Geneva airport, the main railway station, and near Lake Geneva and the historic Old Town. Built by the Building Foundation for International Organisations (FIPOI) in 1973 and completely renovated in 2004, the building is also close to the UN Place des Nations, where a number of major international organisations and permanent missions of the United Nations organization are located.
ITACUS will continue the resilient cities theme from Bangkok

ITACUS will continue the resilient cities theme from Bangkok

In the context of the Opening Ceremony on Monday, 3 June, three keynote lectures will address the motto of the event: Underground - the way to the future. The first, by Walter Thurnherr, General Secretary of the Swiss Ministry of Environment, Traffic, Energy and Communication, will discuss the manner in which underground construction in Switzerland has contributed in the past to a sustainable and environmentally sound development in the areas of traffic and energy and the measures to be employed for continuing this policy in the future.
In recent years, Singapore has invested significantly in the expansion of its underground infrastructure and its future development for an even greater utilisation of underground space. Mr Chong Kheng Chua, Vice Director of the Singaporean Land Transport Authority, will explain the strategic initiative of the Government of Singapore, which has as its aim to deliver the foundation in terms of planning and technology required to make this possible.
The utilisation of underground space is only possible if the scientific and technical prerequisites for this are established. Prof Dr Georg Anagnostou, Head of the Institute of Geotechnics at ETH Zurich, will discuss current state-of-the-art methods based on current examples from Switzerland and will also demonstrate the importance of a comprehensive body of standards.
Monday will also host the presentation of the Sir Alan Muir Wood Memorial Lecture, which this year is to be delivered by Dick Robbins, President of The Robbins Company from 1958 to 1994 and an engineer who stays committed to the company and the international tunnelling industry as a whole. His long career in the development of mechanized TBMs and tunnelling systems together with the many projects he has been involved with across the decades and across the globe will provide a wealth of knowledge and experience to fulfill the criteria for being invited to deliver a lecture in the memory of the ITA's founding President and life-long Honorary President.
Dick Robbins (left) to deliver Sir Alan Muir Wood Memorial Lecture

Dick Robbins (left) to deliver Sir Alan Muir Wood Memorial Lecture

Once into the schedule of the technical presentations, papers selected from a high number of submissions will be presented across 15 sessions. Together with these, there will be sessions by the ITA Committee on Underground Space (ITACUS) to advance its Global Perspective programme on the planning, design and delivery of more resilitent and sustainable cities as urbanisation of the world's population continues and the impact of climate change is felt.
COSUF, the ITA Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities, will conduct a workshop on Tuesday morning (4 June) to discuss the safety challenges and solutions associated with complex underground multipurpose facilities. As part of the ITA and supported by PIARC, the World Road Association, ITA-COSUF covers the safety issues of all types of underground facilities and conducts the workshops as important means of communication. The workshop is open to all participants of the WTC congress one-day registration is available for those who wish to attend the workshop only.
ITA-TECH, the Association's Committee on Technical Developments, is to have a concentrated presence at the the Congress. As well as an Innovation Forum on Tuesday afternoon, its activity group on lining and waterproofing is to hold a demonstration seminar, or deminar, at the Hagerbach Test Gallery in Sargans on Firday 31 May. The event will combine technical lectures and real scale application demonstrations to provide a full understanding of the spray waterproofing membrane technology and the boundary conditions of application and testing. The techniques developed by different suppliers will be demonstrated and investigated with the design aspects, specifications, quality control systems and training of application techniques explored.
Hagerbach Test Gallery to host lining and waterproofing deminar

Hagerbach Test Gallery to host lining and waterproofing deminar

Ahead of the Opening Session on Monday, ITA-CET, the ITA Committee on Education and Training, will conduct its usual two-day training course, a fixture in the WTC programmes that attracts a high number of participants.
Continuing the theme of eduction and training, the WTC in Geneva will for the first time, offer students the opportunity of presenting their semester projects and diploma theses in a special session and to a large audience of industry professionals. As they do so, they will also gain insight into the international world of underground construction. As the organisers, the Swiss Tunnel Society wishes to set an example with this special session for a stronger commitment to the promotion of the upcoming generation. The Association of Swiss Infrastructure Contractors (Infra) will subsidise the participation of students at the WTC.
Added to the programme will be the further development of the ITA Working Groups as well as the important business of the ITA Executive Committee and General Assembly of its current 68 member nations. TunnelTalk will bring further news on these programmes in the coming weeks as the event draws nearer.
At the near sold-out exhibition that will accompany the WTC programme, more than 100 exhibitors will be represented at stands and booths on the three floors of the venue. TunnelTalk will also publish an Exhibition Preview with an interactive floorplan that will help locate the stand of each exhibitor.
"We are looking forward to welcoming everyone in Geneva," said Felix Amberg, Chairman of the WTC 2013 Organising Committee. "Please do be our guests!"
WTC 2012 Bangkok video report - TunnelCast, May 2012
Doing business at WTC Bangkok - TunnelTalk, June 2012
In search of resilient cities - TunnelTalk, December 2011
Bangkok examines flood prevention plans - TunnelTalk, December 2011
ITACET Foundation prioritises education and training - TunnelCast, December 2010
Robbins celebrates 60 years of achievement - TunnelTalk, October 2012

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