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Recent Advances in Tunnelling Technology – Potential for Cambridge Underground Transport?

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Publicity Officer, IMechE Beds & Cambs area.

There is a need for radical solutions to Cambridge’s traffic problems. Cambridge has a historic city centre with narrow streets, which hinder public transport provision, and buses and cars cause congestion and atmospheric pollution. The talk will describe an independent feasibility study, undertaken in the Engineering Department of Cambridge University, which has shown that it is technically and economically feasible to construct tunnels beneath the city centre to carry guided buses and possibly other types of public transport. The feasibility of the tunnels is primarily due to the underlying geology and to recent advances in tunnelling technology.

Recent advances in tunnelling technology will be described, with examples from the current Crossrail project in London and elsewhere. The talk will also cover settlement effects of tunnelling and the latest techniques for predicting these, together with recent research advances at Cambridge.

Professor Robert Mair CBE FR Eng FRS is the Sir Kirby Laing Professor of Civil Engineering and Head of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cambridge University. He was Master of Jesus College 2001-2011 and Senior Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering 2008-2011. Before he was appointed to a Professorship at Cambridge in 1998 he worked in industry for 27 years, in 1983 founding the Geotechnical Consulting Group (GCG). He is also Chairman of Laing O’Rourke’s Engineering Excellence Group. His research group specialises in the geotechnics of tunnelling and underground construction. He leads the Centre on Smart Infrastructure and Construction at Cambridge, involving the innovative use of the latest sensor technologies to monitor the behaviour of civil engineering infrastructure. Professor Mair has advised on many infrastructure projects worldwide, and is a member of Crossrail’s Expert Panel. He chaired the Royal Society/Royal Academy of Engineering Report on Shale Gas for the UK Government, published in 2012.

Time: Refreshments served from 18.30. Talk starts at 19.00. Ends around 20.30 following questions and discussion.

Venue: Lecture Room 4, Cambridge University Engineering Department, Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1PZ (directions at There is limited parking available on site.

Free to attend. Registration not required. All welcome.

This talk is open to the public and is suitable for students and engineers. You are encouraged to bring with you colleagues, friends and members of your family who are interested in engineering.

This talk is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire area.

This talk is part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Cambridgeshire Area) series.

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