Opodo travel news

Europe-Africa tunnel takes next step

20 Oct 2006

The excavation of a tunnel joining Europe and Africa could start as early as next year.

Spanish engineers have mooted 2025 as a completion date for the tunnel, which is expected to carry nine million passengers the 25 mile journey in its first year.

Carrier vehicles may also use the route, which could take only four hours, to transport eight million tonnes of goods annually.

The Spanish and Moroccan governments have commissioned Swiss tunnel engineer Giovanni Lombardi to investigate possible challenges.

Potential barriers include the depth of the sea, strong underwater currents, a history of earthquakes, and the complexity of underlying rock strata, which include clay.

'I would say this is more difficult than the Channel tunnel,' Mr Lombardi told the Guardian, anticipating a 15 year construction phase.

The scheme was first conceived in the 1970s, and a joint government body formed in 1991, at a time when the Channel Tunnel was the latest in high-speed low-cost intercontinental travel.

Political conditions will have to be optimal for the project, which would be the first physical link between the continents in history.

Funding may also present challenges, with tentative estimates putting the cost at £3.36 billion.

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