Title Title
Europe and Africa united? Ancient dream of a Gibraltar crossing is feasible Europe and Africa united? Ancient dream of a Gibraltar crossing is feasible
Summary Summary
Spain and Morocco may be close to finding the best way to cross the Strait of Gibraltar Spain and Morocco may be close to finding the best way to cross the Strait of Gibraltar
Highlights Highlights
Content Content
<strong>For <a href="https://www.elconfidencial.com/tecnologia/ciencia/2018-09-09/tunel-estrecho-gibraltar-37-anos-secegsa_1612683/">millions of years</a>, Europe and Africa have been separated by a tiny gap of water, the Strait of Gibraltar. The 14 km sea crossing between Spain and Morocco might soon be conquered after decades of aborted attempts and funding complications. The project to connect both countries is back on, the Spanish planning group SECEGSA <a href="https://www.diariodecadiz.es/provincia/tunel-Estrecho-viable-pesar-complejidad_0_1249375556.html">told in a press conference in Algeciras</a> in May.</strong> <strong>For <a href="https://www.elconfidencial.com/tecnologia/ciencia/2018-09-09/tunel-estrecho-gibraltar-37-anos-secegsa_1612683/">millions of years</a>, Europe and Africa have been separated by a tiny gap of water, the Strait of Gibraltar. The 14 km sea crossing between Spain and Morocco might soon be conquered after decades of aborted attempts and funding complications. The project to connect both countries is back on, the Spanish planning group SECEGSA <a href="https://www.diariodecadiz.es/provincia/tunel-Estrecho-viable-pesar-complejidad_0_1249375556.html">told in a press conference in Algeciras</a> in May.</strong>
Rafael García-Monge Fernández, president of the Spanish Society for Fixed Communication through the Strait of Gibraltar (SECEGSA), adressed that previous feasibility studies had cast doubts on the project but a new assessment by the University of Zurich and Herrenknecht, the world´s largest tunnel construction company, argues that the project is feasible. The next step would be to build a tailor-made prototype tunnel borer, estimated to cost 32 million euros, <a href="https://www.diariodecadiz.es/provincia/tunel-Estrecho-viable-pesar-complejidad_0_1249375556.html">according to local newspaper Diario de Cadiz</a>. Rafael García-Monge Fernández, president of the Spanish Society for Fixed Communication through the Strait of Gibraltar (SECEGSA), adressed that previous feasibility studies had cast doubts on the project but a new assessment by the University of Zurich and Herrenknecht, the world´s largest tunnel construction company, argues that the project is feasible. The next step would be to build a tailor-made prototype tunnel borer, estimated to cost 32 million euros, <a href="https://www.diariodecadiz.es/provincia/tunel-Estrecho-viable-pesar-complejidad_0_1249375556.html">according to local newspaper Diario de Cadiz</a>.
The most feasible project, according to the new assessment, would be a 38km-tunnel connecting <a href="https://www.elconfidencial.com/tecnologia/ciencia/2018-09-09/tunel-estrecho-gibraltar-37-anos-secegsa_1612683/">Punta Paloma in Spain with Malabata in Morocco</a>. 27km would be under water with a maximum depth of 475 metres and 3% slope. The tunnel would be initially designed only for trains´ use. The most feasible project, according to the new assessment, would be a 38km-tunnel connecting <a href="https://www.elconfidencial.com/tecnologia/ciencia/2018-09-09/tunel-estrecho-gibraltar-37-anos-secegsa_1612683/">Punta Paloma in Spain with Malabata in Morocco</a>. 27km would be under water with a maximum depth of 475 metres and 3% slope. The tunnel would be initially designed only for trains´ use.
<a href="http://www.secegsa.gob.es/SECEGSA/LANG_CASTELLANO/PROYECTO/solucion_base.htm">The idea for a </a>crossing was first launched in October 1980, and both <a href="https://www.elconfidencial.com/tecnologia/ciencia/2018-09-09/tunel-estrecho-gibraltar-37-anos-secegsa_1612683/">Spain and Morocco got to work</a>. Each country created its own institution to focus on planning. Spain established the Sociedad Española de Estudios para la Comunicación Fija a través del Estrecho de Gibraltar (<a href="http://www.secegsa.gob.es/SECEGSA/LANG_CASTELLANO/PROYECTO/">SECEGSA</a>) and Morocco the <a href="http://www.sned.gov.ma/presentation.asp">Societe dÉtudes du Detroit de Gibraltar</a>. <a href="http://www.secegsa.gob.es/SECEGSA/LANG_CASTELLANO/PROYECTO/solucion_base.htm">The idea for a </a>crossing was first launched in October 1980, and both <a href="https://www.elconfidencial.com/tecnologia/ciencia/2018-09-09/tunel-estrecho-gibraltar-37-anos-secegsa_1612683/">Spain and Morocco got to work</a>. Each country created its own institution to focus on planning. Spain established the Sociedad Española de Estudios para la Comunicación Fija a través del Estrecho de Gibraltar (<a href="http://www.secegsa.gob.es/SECEGSA/LANG_CASTELLANO/PROYECTO/">SECEGSA</a>) and Morocco the <a href="http://www.sned.gov.ma/presentation.asp">Societe dÉtudes du Detroit de Gibraltar</a>.
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But until now <a href="http://www.sned.gov.ma/informations.aspv">all the plans or projects</a> have been held up due to complications. In 1995, during a colloquium held in Seville, it was decided that a tunnel would be the best option. As a consequence, two pilot projects were commenced. A 600-metre tunnel was built in Tarifa, Spain and a 216-metre tunnel in Malabata, Morocco. But until now <a href="http://www.sned.gov.ma/informations.aspv">all the plans or projects</a> have been held up due to complications. In 1995, during a colloquium held in Seville, it was decided that a tunnel would be the best option. As a consequence, two pilot projects were commenced. A 600-metre tunnel was built in Tarifa, Spain and a 216-metre tunnel in Malabata, Morocco.
However, the existence of two huge gaps in the middle of the Strait postponed the project. The gaps had already been filled by soil movement, but the filling material made it impossible to tunnel through, so a new route was needed. Nevertheless, the new study by Herrenknecht and the University of Zurich highlights that it is possible to tunnel this gaps with the new tunnel borer, or eight of them to be more precise, explains SECEGSA. However, the existence of two huge gaps in the middle of the Strait postponed the project. The gaps had already been filled by soil movement, but the filling material made it impossible to tunnel through, so a new route was needed. Nevertheless, the new study by Herrenknecht and the University of Zurich highlights that it is possible to tunnel this gaps with the new tunnel borer, or eight of them to be more precise, explains SECEGSA.
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But, who would pay for it? Obviously, Spain and Morocco would directly benefit the most from this connection, but other countries and institutions should also get involved, García-Monge adressed. "In order to do that we have to promote it and place it in the trans-European network. Although in this case not all the standards of high-speed would be accomplished due to the slope, that is 3%, so that the maximum speed is 120km/h. In order to accomplish those standards the slope should not be higher than 1,2% but maybe we could modify the project and enlarge the tunnel to achieve it". But, who would pay for it? Obviously, Spain and Morocco would directly benefit the most from this connection, but other countries and institutions should also get involved, García-Monge adressed. "In order to do that we have to promote it and place it in the trans-European network. Although in this case not all the standards of high-speed would be accomplished due to the slope, that is 3%, so that the maximum speed is 120km/h. In order to accomplish those standards the slope should not be higher than 1,2% but maybe we could modify the project and enlarge the tunnel to achieve it".
SECEGSA also <a href="http://www.secegsa.gob.es/SECEGSA/LANG_CASTELLANO/PROYECTO/nuevos_sist_transp.htm">points out on its website</a> that this crossing project would be even more important in case of using high-speed trains. Travelling from Marrakech (Morocco) to Barcelona (Spain) would take less than 8 hours, while it would take more than 14 hours with conventional trains. SECEGSA also <a href="http://www.secegsa.gob.es/SECEGSA/LANG_CASTELLANO/PROYECTO/nuevos_sist_transp.htm">points out on its website</a> that this crossing project would be even more important in case of using high-speed trains. Travelling from Marrakech (Morocco) to Barcelona (Spain) would take less than 8 hours, while it would take more than 14 hours with conventional trains.
In addition to the implication of public institutions, private funding would be also neccesary but, according to SECEGSA, it would "start having benefits soon". Furthermore, this tunnel could also work as a way to transport energy since in 2050 all European energies must be clean, so that solar energy in Africa may be very attractive for private investments. In addition to the implication of public institutions, private funding would be also neccesary but, according to SECEGSA, it would "start having benefits soon". Furthermore, this tunnel could also work as a way to transport energy since in 2050 all European energies must be clean, so that solar energy in Africa may be very attractive for private investments.
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The idea of connecting two points is not new. For centuries, humans have modified nature to satisfy their interests. In modern times, with advances in engineering, tunnels have been a chosen  solution. For instance, the <a href="https://www.getlinkgroup.com/uk/the-channel-tunnel/infrastructure/" rel="external nofollow">Channel Tunnel</a> between England and France stretches for 31.4 miles (50.5km) while the<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seikan_Tunnel" rel="external nofollow"> Seikan Tunnel in Japan</a> links main island Honshu with Hokkaido over a distance of 33.5 miles (53.9 km). The idea of connecting two points is not new. For centuries, humans have modified nature to satisfy their interests. In modern times, with advances in engineering, tunnels have been a chosen  solution. For instance, the <a href="https://www.getlinkgroup.com/uk/the-channel-tunnel/infrastructure/" rel="external nofollow">Channel Tunnel</a> between England and France stretches for 31.4 miles (50.5km) while the<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seikan_Tunnel" rel="external nofollow"> Seikan Tunnel in Japan</a> links main island Honshu with Hokkaido over a distance of 33.5 miles (53.9 km).
In an even more complex project, the Chinese government chose to build a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong%E2%80%93Zhuhai%E2%80%93Macau_Bridge" rel="external nofollow">bridge-tunnel system to connect Hong Kong, Zhuhia and Macau</a>, three major cities on the Pearl River delta. The system consists of three cable-stayed bridges and an undersea tunnel, as well as 3 artificial islands to span the Lingdingyang channel. In an even more complex project, the Chinese government chose to build a <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong%E2%80%93Zhuhai%E2%80%93Macau_Bridge" rel="external nofollow">bridge-tunnel system to connect Hong Kong, Zhuhia and Macau</a>, three major cities on the Pearl River delta. The system consists of three cable-stayed bridges and an undersea tunnel, as well as 3 artificial islands to span the Lingdingyang channel.
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