Problems with the Channel Tunnel Project

123000 This paper discusses that the Channel Tunnel project represents one of the greatest engineering feats executed in the twentieth century. The tunnel project connects England and France through a railway link that exists in the ground layer under water. This project effectively reduced the dependency on the English Channel as a means of transportation between England and France. Moreover, this project can be seen as laying the basis for larger and longer tunnel projects that might one day even connect the Atlantic. On the business front, the Channel Tunnel project represents one of the largest privately funded projects ever undertaken. The project relied on the cooperation between two governments, several bankers providing the funding and several contractors along with numerous regulatory agencies. As mentioned before, the engineering aspects of the tunnel and its railway traffic represented new unbroken ground. This in itself represented new challenges as the Channel Tunnel forced engineers to do what was previously seen as impossible. As the Channel Tunnel project proceeded, several major and myriad minor changes had to be undertaken to make the project a success. The Channel Tunnel project represented something that had never been done before so the challenges confronting all teams on all fronts were new and required innovation to be dealt with successfully. Later changes in the structure of the project also mandated some large changes. Finally, as the Channel Tunnel project was commissioned, it was found that the project was both over budget and late. A number of complex factors and situations were responsible for creating delays and overruns through the life of the project. This text will attempt to analyse the complex factors that were responsible for these delays and overruns while also suggesting solutions that could be implemented in the future to avoid similar problems. These factors will be looked at in detail from the perspective of the planning and implementation phases that represent the greatest project management problems. 2. Problems with the Channel Tunnel Project 2.1. Planning Issues The initial planning phase demarcated that the Channel Project was to provide a fixed transportation system that connected England and France. This new transportation connection was expected to spur economic growth and development. In addition, the Channel Project was expected to aid the integration of Britain with mainland Europe in order to improve European trade. Moreover, the tunnel between England and France was expected to provide cheaper alternatives to more expensive modes of transportation such as shipping and air transport. The railway system envisioned for the purpose was also better in that it was a high-speed system when compared to both shipping and air transport. Although working for the Channel Tunnel had been on going in the seventies but the real concrete measures came through in 1984. The British and French governments agreed to common proposals for safety, security and environmental concerns before the project was opened up for bidding. Both governments in 1985 requested the first proposals for the Channel Project. A number of proposals were submitted for the Channel Project. After an evaluation from both the British and French sides, the proposal submitted by Channel Tunnel Group / FranceManche (later Eurotunnel) was accepted. The initial proposal delineated a 32-mile double rail tunnel that was to accommodate passenger trains as well as cargo trains and a special truck and car carrying shuttle service. The initial bid price was set at some $5.5 billion for the entire project. 2.2. Shortage of Time for Planning The initial proposals were submitted in a short period and this in turn led to many oversights that could have been avoided by detailed studies. When put in a project management perspective, it could be surmised that high-level design estimates along with rough order of magnitude estimates could have led to better estimates as to the total scope and cost of the project. The shortage of