Femern, the company organising the construction of an 18km, undersea road and rail tunnel between Denmark and Germany, yesterday signed up a joint venture between three consulting engineers to act as technical consultants on the scheme.
The firms chosen were RambÃ¸ll of Denmark, Arup of the UK and TEC of the Netherlands.
"Their role will be to advise and challenge so that we achieve the best possible solutions," said Henrik Christensen, the technical director of Femern. "This, therefore, marks a very important day for the project.
"It’s now a question of when, not whether, construction gets under way," he added. "Everything is ready on the Danish side and we are doing all that we can to win German approval as soon as possible".
The total budget for the link is $7.5bn (DKK 52.6bn). This will be financed using government-backed loans, to be repaid from toll revenue.
As well as the joint venture, a number of contracts were signed with other firms. SchÃ¸nherr of Denmark, WTM Engineers and Obermayer Planen + Beraten of Germany, the Danish arm of UK engineer Atkins will act as subconsultants, and Ã…F-Hansen & Henneberg of Denmark will provide in-house consultancy services.
The tunnel will run between RÃ¸dbyhavn in Denmark and Puttgarden in Germany, replacing the ferry crossing that completes the E47 link between LÃ¼beck and Copenhagen.
Femern says it will be the world’s longest "immersed tunnel". Its sections will be prefabricated and sunk into position.
The German planning authorities are expected to indicate when they will make a decision on the scheme in the coming weeks. Femern hopes to open the link in 2028.
In its list of reasons for building the tunnel, Femern included cutting an hour off motorists’ journeys and offering a greater number of faster trains.
Image: The tunnel will provide a fixed link between Germany and Lolland (Femern)