EuroTAP, a Motor for Tunnel Innovation and Improvements
Submitted: Thursday, April 26th 2007
The latest results of the European Tunnel Assessment programme (EuroTAP) place a Croatian tunnel, the "Brinje" at the top of the list, as the best tunnel in Europe in 2007.
EuroTAP 2007 inspected 51 major road tunnels important for transEuropean road traffic located in 13 countries across Europe and concluded that none could beat this Croatian tunnel despite the fact the since 2004 tunnels in the European Union must comply with a Directive prescribing minimum safety standards for road tunnels . The Brinje, a 1.57km tunnel opened in 2004, located on the A1 between Zagreb and Split displayed a winning features in all safety categories: low risk traffic flows using two tubes, 24 hour monitoring from a tunnel control centre manned by trained staff; immediate notification of traffic disruptions, use of lay-bys or emergency facilities; additional escape and rescue routes well marked by evacuation lighting and good indications of the escape direction and the distance to the nearest exit. Over the life of EuroTAP, Croatian tunnels have received surprisingly good ratings. Despite the high standards already achieved, Croatia's operators want to optimise their tunnels further.
At the other end of the scale the Paci 2 tunnel located in southern Italy on the A3 between Salerno and Reggio Calabria was the clear loser of the 2007 EuroTAP assessment. This tunnel is nothing more than a “black hole” which has not been refurbished at any time in the last four decades. Even more depressing, it would appear that this situation is unlikely to change any time soon.
It is worrying that three years after the adoption of the European minimum safety standards for road tunnels EuroTAP is revealing that one in five tunnels is sub- standard and fails to meet the minimum requirements. Current research shows that optimal road infrastructure plays a crucial role in minimising road deaths and serious injuries. Road tunnels are important for reducing congestion, improving traffic flow and often offer a safer transit than the open road. However when an accident occurs in such a confined space the consequences can be disastrous. The provisions of the directive are intended to put in place the necessary preventative, mitigating and remedial measures to assure the safety of road tunnel users.
The 12 independent European motoring organisations that make up the EuroTAP platform are committed to eliminating from the transEuropean road network tunnels that are no more than "black holes". At the same time EuroTAP is collaborating with operators, national and European legislators and the wider public to promote excellence identify innovations in tunnel safety and inform tunnel users of these developments. Ultimately the automobile clubs believe that their members and mobile consumers generally should be sufficiently informed to demand the quality and safety they deserve.
Promising innovations in 2007 include the creation of an online database containing all publicly available information on the EuroTAP tested tunnels. In Austria, new steps have been taken to separate bi-directional traffic in single tube tunnels.
The Trebsing tunnel in Austria is a shining example of EuroTAP's concept of tunnel safety with smooth traffic flows minimal risk of accidents. In this single tube tunnel, a concrete wall has been installed to separate the bi-directional traffic. In a single strike the risk of head-on collisions has been completely annihilated. This elegant solution also minimises the financial and ecological impact of a tunnel. It is particularly suited to tunnels with lower traffic volume where the building of a second tube would not be sustainable.
It is encouraging to see that EuroTAP reports and recommendations have prompted positive reactions among tunnel operators and public authorities including increased investment together with the upgrading of a whole series of tunnels across Europe like the Rovira Tunnel in Spain or the Ganzstein in Austria. These innovations and improvements go in the right direction if lives are to be saved in the event of tunnels accidents.
Reinhard Rack, member of the European Parliament, author of the European Parliaments Report on minimum safety standards in road tunnels said in 2004, "“We have developed and adopted the Directives and Recommendations on how to build and operate safe road tunnels. Now we need to educate road users”.
On 9th May 2007 EuroTAP will join Professor Rack, the European Commission and other international experts to examine what progress has been made. This dinner debate will focus on what is still needed to optimise "The future of road tunnel safety in Europe".
1. The European Tunnel Assessment programme is conducted by 12 national motoring organisations from 11 countries including Croatia, Switzerland and Norway from outside the EU. Collectively they represent some 27.4 million members. The EuroTAP 2005-2007 programme is lead by the German automobile club ADAC and receives a European Commission grant.
2. EuroTAP has inspected 152 tunnels in 18 countries over the last 3 years. 314.7 km of tunnel tubes have been inspected. In 2007, 51 tunnels were tested in 13 countries. One in five (20%) of all tunnels tested have failed the EuroTAP inspection which also means that do not meet the minimum standards of the European Directive on minimum safety standards for tunnels on the Trans European Road Network (2004//54/EC)
3. The EuroTAP methodology comprises of more that 1000 criteria classed in some 8 categories that examine the preventative, mitigating and remedial features of a tunnel operation and serve to establish the risk potential and safety potential of a particular tunnel. In addition, a KO protocol has been established whereby any tunnel revealing on of these features automatically has its score downgraded.
4. Apart from inspecting 152 tunnels EuroTAP also features a number of other elements;
• A leaflet (in 7 languages) Safe in the Tunnel which advises users of the correct behaviour to adopted in a tunnel in all circumstances and situations
• A tunnel audit analysing the three years of tunnel inspections undertaken by EuroTAP will be published in the autumn
• 150 EuroTAP Tunnel Info sheets designed to provide all necessary motorists planning a journey where tunnels will be taken.
• A EuroTAP tunnel databank comprising all raw data gathered about all EuroTAP tested tunnels
• A prize for the ' best European Tunnel" will be awarded in the autumn also
5. On 9th May 2007, Reinhard Rack will host a Dinner Debate in the European Parliament on the future of Road Tunnel Safety. Guest speakers include the European Commission and members of the High level Tunnel safety group.
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