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Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

An Innovation and Knowledge Centre funded by EPSRC and Innovate UK

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The Making of a Smart Tunnel: measuring tunnelling history for the first time

last modified Mar 20, 2014 02:05 PM
CSIC's instrumentation is set to demonstrate the behaviour of a cast iron tunnel to a scale that has never been done before using ground breaking technologies.


For the past nine months, CSIC’s team of PhD students and researchers have been installing innovative monitoring devices in a 30 metre stretch of a 100-year-old, disused tunnel, deep in London’s underground – transforming it into a "smart tunnel", capable of monitoring stress levels in real time and seeing how they change during excavation.

Smart tunnel complete.

(click on the image above to view our slideshow of a "smart tunnel" in the making.)

During December, Crossrail will be excavating its gigantic 11m diameter tunnel directly beneath CSIC’s "smart tunnel.

“This is not only incredibly exciting for the CSIC team”, remarked Dr Jennifer Schooling, CSIC’s Director, “it is also a first on a number of counts. It is the first time so many of our revolutionary devices have been used to monitor the movement of an existing tunnel. It will also mean that we will see what effect such a large-scale excavation will have on a cast iron tunnel for the first time, almost in real time.”

Seventy percent of London’s ageing, Victorian underground tunnels are made of cast iron. Using such instrumentation is an efficient and economical way of monitoring miles of tunnels such as those in London. This project will use ground-breaking technologies to show the behaviour of cast iron tunnels to a scale that has never been done before and give information on how further technologies like the ones used by CSIC can be used in other similar tunnels.