Is a tunnel safe?
The Fehmarnbelt tunnel will be one of the world's safest and most modern tunnels and meet all relevant safety standards, including the EU's tunnel directive. The Fehmarnbelt tunnel will be at least as safe for passengers as any Danish motorway or rail line. The detailed planning and design of a tunnel, therefore, focuses on three priorities: 1. Accident prevention. 2. Minimising the consequences of accidents and emergencies. 3. The tunnel design must ensure that the emergency services can handle accidents and emergencies rapidly and efficiently and with a high degree of safety for rescue personnel. In the event of an accident, users of the tunnel can retreat towards a central gallery and the adjacent tunnel tube.
What are the most significant safety challenges relating to a tunnel under the Fehmarnbelt?
For the Fehmarnbelt tunnel, the main issues regarding safety are conventional traffic accidents and fire. Looking at the statistics, the far majority of all deaths are caused by common traffic accidents that occur on normal motorways as well.
How will Femern A/S prevent major catastrophes in the Fehmarnbelt tunnel such as the Mont Blanc tunnel disaster?
The Fehmarnbelt tunnel has separated tunnel tubes so traffic will only flow in one direction – as opposed to the Mont Blanc tunnel where traffic flows in both directions. The road section of the Fehmarnbelt tunnel also has continuous emergency lanes throughout the entire tubes. As on any other motorway, traffic accidents cannot be prevented completely. To minimise the risk of traffic accidents, extensive, 24-hour monitoring, control and communications systems will be installed. Traffic information will also be available on FM radio. Computerised traffic control systems, dynamic signs for road users, road lighting and varied lighting in the tunnel to prevent driver fatigue will also be in operation.
Will a tunnel solution not create fear among some people who may then opt for a ferry or use the Great Belt link when travelling between Denmark and Germany?
Studies show that some users feel unsettled when driving through a tunnel. For some people, their feelings of discomfort are so great that they choose a different route. Studies also show that such feelings can be eliminated or reduced by using creative and good lighting, decoration, high maintenance standards, clear information with frequent signage and a welcoming design of the tunnel portals. It further needs to be noted that there are people who experience anxiety when sailing, flying or driving across a bridge.
How long will the emergency authorities' response time be in the event of a serious accident in the tunnel?
The final procedures for the work of the rescue authorities in Denmark and Germany in the event of an incident in the tunnel will be determined at a later stage after thorough discussions with the authorities. A number of facilities in the tunnel enable intervention at a very early stage until the main rescue crews arrive. The tunnel is monitored by operational and safety personnel round-the-clock so that any emergency will be discovered at an early stage. The plan is to initiate the first rescue efforts with trained crews and a number of light vehicles that can intervene at an early stage and are located in the portal building areas or in the tunnel itself.
Emergency lanes will run in both directions for easy access by rescue vehicles, and rescue teams will have access from the opposite road tube at approx. 108 m intervals, thus enabling rescue crews to get to the scene of the incident quickly and safely. A sprinkler system covering all areas in all tubes can be activated from the control centre immediately if a fire is detected. Emergency stations with hand-operated fire extinguishers, fire hydrants and emergency phones etc. will be established at approx. 54 m intervals. The large capacity ventilation system will ensure that smoke is immediately extracted from the tunnel in the direction away from motorists.
How will transport of hazardous goods be handled?
The tunnel is designed to ensure the safe transport of hazardous goods in accordance with international, national and local rules and regulations. Moreover, the tunnel is designed to handle and minimise the consequences of accidents involving hazardous goods. Safety measures in the tunnel include a permanently manned control and monitoring centre, a traffic control system designed to prevent congestion and reveal situations that could lead to abnormal traffic as well as a ventilation system that provides fresh air and eliminates smoke, fire-extinguishing systems, emergency exits and emergency lighting. In addition, all critical structures have been constructed to meet high fire-resistant standards. The authorities determine the rules for transporting hazardous goods and impose any restrictions.