Immersed Tunnels: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Immersed Tunnels

1st Edition

By Richard Lunniss, Jonathan Baber

CRC Press

536 pages | 162 B/W Illus.

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Immersed tunnels have been around for more than a century but remain a relatively unknown form of tunnel construction. For waterway crossings they are an effective alternative to bored tunnels and bridges, particularly in shallower waters, soft alluvial soils, and earthquake-prone areas. Successful implementation requires a thorough understanding of a wide variety of civil engineering disciplines and construction techniques. Immersed Tunnels brings together in one volume all aspects of immersed tunnels from initial feasibility and planning, through design and construction, to operation and maintenance.

Get Valuable Insights into Immersed Tunnel Engineering from Expert Practitioners

The book presents design and construction principles to give a full appreciation not only of what is involved in an immersed tunnel scheme but also how potential problems are dealt with and overcome. It examines important factors that have to be considered, particularly environmental implications and mechanical and electrical systems. It also gives practical examples of how specific techniques have been used in various projects and highlights issues that designers and constructors should be aware of. In addition, the book discusses operation and maintenance and reviews contractual matters. These aspects are described from the viewpoint of two experienced practitioners in the field who have a wealth of experience on immersed tunnel projects worldwide.

As tunnels are increasingly being adopted as engineering solutions around the world, this unique and extensively illustrated reference explores the wide variety of immersed tunnel techniques available to designers and constructors. It provides essential insight for anyone involved, or seeking to be involved, with immersed tunnel projects.


"… provides an in-depth look at all aspects of this special system used to create underground space beneath waterways. … clear and understandable step-by-step explanation of all the stages in the creation of a tunnel project giving clear descriptions of the various choices and requirements from initial concept through realization and on through operation and maintenance. … The authors use their considerable worldwide expertise and knowledge of the process to give the reader an insight into the possible problems that may occur and should be guarded against, and provide a full picture of all the decisions and processes required to bring a project to a successful conclusion. … the book will provide engineers with a comprehensive library of all aspects of the process … essential reading for anyone interested in this innovative approach to crossing waterways."

—David Court, C.Eng FICE, Bam Nuttall, UK

"This book is a very good way to bring immersed tunnels into the spotlight in such a way that this tunnel technique will be regarded by decision makers as a competitive option to cross waterways."

—Hans de Wit, Tunnel Engineering Consultants, The Netherlands

"The different aspects of planning and construction of an immersed tunnel are written in a very informative and descriptive way with project examples helping first-time planners, developers and consultants to get an excellent overview. For the more experienced planners, designers and contractors, it gives valuable references to projects and lessons learned."

—Michael Tonnesen, COWI A/S, Denmark

"Highly professional engineering told in an understandable way based on many years’ experience. … The book will be useful for engineers, clients, and students."

—Ole Peter Jensen, Chief Advisor and Immersed Tunnel Expert, Ramboll, Denmark

"The contents covers all aspects that I would hope to see in a book on the design and construction of immersed tunnels. … This is an outstanding book that should be read by all engineers that are involved in the design and/or construction of immersed tunnels. Even the most experienced engineers will find nuggets of information that the authors have gleaned through many years implementing immersed tunnel projects around the world. It also provides a good introduction to engineers that are new to this technique with its wide coverage of the subject."

—John Busby, FICE, FIStructE, Operations Director, Capita Symonds Limited, UK

"This is a brilliant introduction and thorough run-through of the complexities of immersed tube tunnels."

—Lasse Vester in ITA Yong Members Magazine

"… this comprehensive book on all aspects of developing an immersed tunnel project is a very much-needed resource and should be welcomed by planners and designers worldwide. It is written by two fine engineers … I therefore believe that this book will be found to be a very useful reference for civil engineers in the process of developing an immersed subsea tunnel project for the first time or even for those engineers already experienced in some of the immersed tunnel methods, but who are facing a new project with unusual site conditions or constraints."

—From the Foreword by Walter C. Grantz, PE, immersed tunnel consultant, Virginia Beach, USA

Table of Contents


Development of the Immersed Tunnel

Steel shell tunnels

Concrete tunnels

Composite sandwich tunnels

Tunnels in Japan

Growth in immersed tunnels worldwide

Current Forms of Immersed Tunnel

Monolithic concrete element construction

Segmental concrete element construction

Prestressed concrete

Single steel shell

Double steel shell

Composite concrete steel sandwich

Developing an Immersed Tunnel Scheme

Selection of bridge or tunnel

Tunnel cross section


Junction with cut and cover tunnels

Number of tunnel elements


Structural options

Element construction

Environmental considerations

Disruption to navigation


Operation and maintenance costs

Construction program

Environmental Impact

Short-term versus long-term impacts

Tunnel approaches

Marine works



Water quality

Visual aspects



Air quality

Marine Environment


Hydraulic effects


Mechanical and Electrical Installations

Road tunnel safety

Incident detection and management

Emergency escape

Railway tunnel safety



Control systems

Power supply


Tunnel Approaches and Service Buildings

Forms of approaches

Cut and cover tunnels

Approach ramps

Interface with immersed tunnel

Construction sequence

Connection to bored tunnels

Use of tunnel approaches as the casting basin

Service building facilities

Layout of tunnel portal areas

Design Principles

Structure sizing

Stability and buoyancy

Design loadings

Temporary load conditions

Design codes

Load combinations

Structural analysis

Structural design

Settlement modeling

Seismic design


Immersion joints

Segment joints

Terminal joints

Closure joints

Crown seal joint

Seismic joints



Concrete mix design

Early age crack control


Corrosion prevention strategies

Cathodic protection

Durability of watertight seals

Internal coatings


Foundation layer

Sand foundation layers

Gravel foundation layers

Grouted foundations

Piled foundations

Ground improvement




Cut-and-cover tunnel earthworks

Casting basin

Artificial islands

Construction and Placing of Tunnel Elements

Concrete tunnels

Steel tunnels

Utility tunnels

Temporary works equipment

Float up



Ballast exchange

Lessons learned

Finishing Works

Tunnel entry procedures


Ballast concrete

Fire protection

Cladding, kerbs, and crash barriers


Rail tracks and road surfacing

M&E installation

Operation and Maintenance



Rail tunnels

Contract Forms

Form of contract

Contract documents

Ground conditions

Dispute resolution



Privately financed construction

The Future

Going longer

Going deeper


Submerged floating tunnels





About the Authors

Richard Lunniss is director of civil engineering at Capita Symonds.

Jonathan Baber is a project director at Mott MacDonald and vice animateur of the International Tunnelling Association Working Group for Immersed and Floating Tunnels.

Lunniss and Baber have been extensively involved, over 25- and 20-year periods respectively, in the design and construction of immersed tunnels worldwide. Their completed schemes include:

  • Conwy Tunnel (UK)
  • Medway Tunnel (UK)
  • Jack Lynch Tunnel (Cork, Ireland)
  • Airport Railway Tunnel (Hong Kong)
  • Preveza Tunnel (Greece)
  • Øresund Tunnel (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Fort Point Channel Tunnel (Boston, USA)
  • Bjørvika Tunnel (Oslo, Norway)
  • Limerick Tunnel (Ireland)

They have also undertaken feasibility and tender designs for several other immersed tunnel projects, and given advice to funders on PFI schemes.

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