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FAQ - Stad ship tunnel

Do you have questions about Stad ship tunnel? We give answers here to some of the questions we are often asked. Click on the question to see the answer.

  • Is the funding for the tunnel now in place?

    Initially, that was the case. The Parliament approved it in May 2021. However, due to increased costs, the Parliament needs to approve a new budget framework in the autumn of 2023.

    In the Government's budget negotiations in 2020, NOK 75 million was set aside for the start-up of the Stad ship tunnel in 2021. In February, the Norwegian Coastal Administration received a supplementary letter of award for start-up.

    For 2022, the Norwegian Coastal Administration (Kystverket) received 76 million Norwegian Kroner for the work on the ship tunnel. The funds have been used for preparatory work, such as establishing a project organization, acquiring properties, developing tender documents, and initiating the tendering process.

    Initially, the project had a budget framework of approximately 2.8 billion Norwegian Kroner (2021, excluding value-added tax). However, the Parliament approved a budget framework of slightly over 4 billion Norwegian Kroner. In spring 2023, new cost analyses indicate that the costs have increased to an extent where the conditions for the Parliament's decision to initiate the Stad Ship Tunnel investment project are no longer met. Therefore, the matter must be presented to the Parliament again, with a possible adjustment of the cost and management framework. This will take place in connection with the autumn 2023 state budget.

    In the meantime, the Norwegian Coastal Administration has sufficient funds to continue its preparatory work.

  • What is the current status of the project?

    The Norwegian Coastal Administration is working on the planning for the procurement of a contractor who will construct the ship tunnel. The project is intended as a large turnkey contract, which includes both design and execution.

    At the same time, the Norwegian Coastal Administration has been instructed by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries to explore possibilities for reducing the costs of the project.

    The project is currently in a phase where we are examining the optimization and allocation of the significant amount of rock mass that will be excavated during tunnel construction. This is an extensive and crucial task for the project, particularly regarding synergies, societal benefits, and economic opportunities for the entire area.

    It is important to incorporate these elements into the tender documents. Efforts are also being made to update the technical functional description, which outlines how the tunnel should be constructed, including the requirements for the installed components.

    In May 2023, the government presented new cost estimates for the Stad Ship Tunnel and requested that the Norwegian Coastal Administration assess the potential for cost reduction in the project. The Norwegian Coastal Administration is expected to respond to this by June 15th.

    Simultaneously, the Norwegian Coastal Administration continues with preparatory work. This already involves significant efforts to reduce risks, uncertainties, and consequently, costs in the project. For instance, in July, we will conduct a new round of core drilling to better assess rock quality and ground conditions. Additionally, extensive regulatory work is underway for the tunnel areas, new industrial sites, and other recipients of excavated materials.

    The Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries has requested that the Norwegian Coastal Administration postpone the potential tender announcement for the main contract until the Parliament has addressed a new budget matter concerning the Stad Ship Tunnel. This is expected to occur in conjunction with the autumn 2023 state budget.

    Given the directive to explore potential cost reductions, it is challenging to determine when the tender documents will be released. It is likely that this will not happen until closer to the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024, after the budget for 2024 has been approved. If that is the case, contract signing may occur in late 2024, with construction commencing in early 2025.

    The process has previously been as follows:

    • On behalf of the Ministry of Transport, the Norwegian Coastal Administration devised a preliminary project and zoning plan with an impact assessment. Meanwhile, we worked on the operating concept and the realisation of benefits plan for the Stad ship tunnel, based on preliminary studies that were completed in 2014. The final report was submitted to the Ministry of Transport on 16 May 2017.
    • The preliminary project, and subsequent quality assurance (KS2), form the basis for further consideration by the Storting with regard to final funding and implementation. As KS2 showed a higher price than the Norwegian Coastal Administration’s cost estimate, the Norwegian Coastal Administration was asked in January 2019 to conduct a new review. In this new review, the Norwegian Coastal Administration will make it clear that the ship tunnel can be built for NOK 2.7 billion, which was the cost estimate in the preliminary project. In KS2, which was delivered to the Ministry of Transport in May 2018, the price was estimated at NOK 3.7 billion – i.e. NOK 1 billion more than what has been allocated in the National Transport Plan.
    • The Norwegian Coastal Administration submitted its report on 15 June 2019, where the conclusion was that the ship tunnel can be built within the framework for the funds that were allocated in the National Transport Plan 2018-2029. The Norwegian Coastal Administration identified opportunities for cost reductions in the project, and carried out studies to reduce the uncertainty in the project. If all of the cost reductions are made, the new estimated framework will be NOK 2677 million. In comparison, a price-adjusted framework in the National Transport Plan amounts to NOK 2953 million.
    • In 2020, archaeological excavations were carried out in the regulated area, which was then released for the start of construction. Preparations have been completed for land acquisition.
    • In February 2021, the Norwegian Coastal Administration received the allocation letter, which defined the processes for acquiring properties in the area where the ship tunnel will be located, establishing a project organization, developing tender documents, and initiating the tendering process. These were part of the plans for 2021.

      Furthermore, the Ministry of Transport and Communications prepared a proposition to the Parliament regarding the project, which was indeed discussed in May.

    • The Parliament approved the project in May 2021, which means that all the formalities are now in place for the construction of the Stad Ship Tunnel.
    • In May 2023, the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Fisheries (NFD) requested the Norwegian Coastal Administration to assess the possibility of building the Stad Ship Tunnel at a lower cost than what was proposed in the revised national budget and the updated cost and uncertainty analysis by the Norwegian Coastal Administration.
  • When will construction start?

    Given the complexity of developing a tender document for the world's first ship tunnel, along with the economic and political considerations that will influence the process, it is difficult to provide a definite timeline.

    The Norwegian Coastal Administration aims to be ready to sign a contract with a contractor for tunnel construction by the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025, which would potentially allow construction to begin in early 2025.

    The actual construction time will depend on the chosen contractor, but it is estimated that it could take four to six years for the ship tunnel to be completed.

  • When will the tunnel open?

    It is difficult to provide precise information at this stage.

    The actual construction time will depend on the contractor chosen, but it is estimated that the construction period could range from four to six years.

    If construction begins in early 2025, it is possible that the ship tunnel could be completed around 2030. However, it will be easier to provide a more specific timeline once the general contractor is selected and more detailed planning is in place.

  • How will work on the tunnel be carried out?

    This will be more like a large, long mountain cavern than a tunnel, and leading expertise will be used. Many businesses in Norway have highly experienced and well qualified staff to carry out this type of work. The upper part of the ship tunnel will be carved out in the same way as for ordinary road tunnels. Then we will blast our way downwards, layer by layer, which is known as bench blasting

  • How will the excavated rock be transported out?

    The excavated rock will be transported from the tunnel by lorry, in the traditional way, to the fjords. From there, large barges will take it to different areas to be deposited.

    The zoning plan allows for the establishment of a service tunnel next to the main tunnel. The final solution with regard to tunnelling and logistics will probably be clarified in collaboration with the contractor.

  • How much rock is involved?

    In total, about 3 million cubic metres of solid rock will be removed, which corresponds to about 5,4 million cubic metres rock masses. About two-thirds of this will be large boulders from blasting. The rest will be smaller rock masses from ordinary tunnelling.

    5,4 million cubic metres tonnes of loose rock corresponds to around 750 000 lorry loads, but it will be removed from the site by barges.

  • If sea levels rise by about one metre over the next 100 years due to global warming, which they say can happen, will the tunnel still be usable? What increase in sea level is it designed to take?

    We have the challenge of sea levels rising due to global warming. The ship tunnel will be designed for vessels with a vertical clearance of 30 metres, in accordance with the requirements imposed by the Government. We have designed a ceiling height of 33 metres. It should not therefore be a problem if the sea level rises by about one metre over the next 100 years.

  • How will water be prevented from entering the tunnel during construction?

    "Doorstops" will probably be left at both ends of the tunnel during the construction period, i.e. we will not blast up to contour line -12 at the ends. This will keep the tunnel dry, also below sea level for most of the tunnel.

  • How will you ensure that the ships can easily enter the tunnel openings?

    On both sides, there will be long entrance structures that slant outwards. This will help guide vessels towards the tunnel opening. There will also be an area outside the openings where it will be forbidden for other ships to enter. In addition, there will be an area that is the ‘point of no return’ for those entering the tunnel.

  • Will there be tolls?

    No, there will be no charge to use the tunnel. But – the pilotage regulations will apply to the waters in the Stad ship tunnel. This means that vessels longer than 70 metres without a Pilotage Exemption Certificate will be required to use the pilotage service.

  • How will traffic be managed/regulated? Will there be some kind of traffic light system?

    Yes, we will follow the standard red and white light system to indicate when vessels can enter the tunnel. But passing boats will probably be given a time slot by the Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) centre - in the same way as for planes.

  • What will the speed limit be in the tunnel?

    The final decision on speed limits for both fjords and in the tunnel will be made at a later date (Maritime Traffic Regulations). In the tunnel, it will probably be eight knots for speedboats, which means it will take ten minutes to go through the tunnel. Five knots is considered to be likely for other vessels.

  • What will be the distance between the vessels entering the tunnel?

    It will probably be around 400 metres, which is also the minimum distance for ensuring the safe passage. This distance will mean that five ships an hour can pass through the tunnel.

  • How much clearance will vessels have on each side?

    Large ships going through the tunnel can be up to 21.5 metres wide. This gives them a clearance of 2.5 metres on each side. This has been tested in a model tank, where one of the aims was to find the best speed for optimum manoeuvrability in the tunnel. The entrance/entry was tested in a simulator.

  • Can the public walk inside the tunnel?

    No. On each side there is a 3.5-metre-wide guide structure with fenders, but this is mostly so that the bridges on the boats do not touch the tunnel walls. In addition, this field can be used in the event of an evacuation, and is therefore classified as an escape route.

  • How can you avoid falling rocks?

    The tunnel will be secured with rock bolts and shotcrete.

  • What will you have on the sides of the tunnel to absorb shocks to the side of the ship?

    Fenders will be placed inside the tunnel. These will be dimensioned according to the forces that the largest ships are designed for.

  • Can recreational crafts use the tunnel 24 hours a day?

    No. We are discussing whether there should be special times for recreational craft to use the tunnel, such as morning and evening. Alternatively, they can be fitted into the regular queue. But this has not been clarified yet.

    Recreational boats must be motorized.

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