The world's longest combined road and rail tunnel will be under the Fehmarnbelt between Denmark and

The world's longest combined road and rail tunnel will be under the Fehmarnbelt between Denmark and Germany.

The Fehmarnbelt immersed tunnel project between Denmark and Germany took a step forward this week with Femern – the Danish state-owned company tasked with designing and planning the link – signing four major construction contracts worth almost DKK30 billion (€4 billion).

The contracts are with the international contractor consortia that will be responsible for the construction of the 18km Fehmarnbelt tunnel between Rødbyhavn and Puttgarden.

The tunnel will be the world’s longest immersed road and rail tunnel. It will shorten the journey between the German and Danish coasts to just 10 minutes by car and 7 minutes by train compared to the current travel time of one hour by ferry or a 160km detour via the Danish region of Jutland by car.

In contrast to a bored tunnel, an immersed tunnel is made up of hollow concrete elements, cast on land and assembled section by section to form the tunnel.

A trench for the tunnel must be dug in the seabed to build the Fehmarnbelt link. This trench will be up to 60m wide, 16m deep and 18km long. In total, some 19 million m3 of stone and sand will be excavated from the seabed.

Femern CEO Claus Baunkjær said, "We’re pleased that, after a number of years of preparation and a tendering process, contracts have now been signed with the winning contractor consortia.

"As a result, our prime focus is now on obtaining German approval, which is a condition for getting construction underway.”

Certain contractors who were not awarded contracts lodged a complaint with the Danish Review Board for Public Procurement, where the matter is currently being considered.

The preferred bidders were chosen in March.

The Femern Link Contractors joint venture has won three contracts, two contracts covering construction of the immersed tunnel and the tunnel element factory that will manufacture the precast tunnel elements and a contract covering the building of the portal structures, toll buildings, bridges and ramps. The three contracts have a combined value of €3.4 billion.

The joint venture comprises Vinci Construction Grands Projets as the lead company for the two tunnel contracts, Per Aarsleff Holding as lead company for the portal contract, Solétanche-Bachy International, CFE, Wayss & Freytag Ingenieurbau, Max Bögl Stiftung & Co, Bam Infra and Bam International.

The joint venture has appointed Dredging International (DEME Group), as dragging subcontractor for the tunnel contracts and COWI, as consultant for all three contracts.

The fourth contract is for dredging and reclamation by Fehmarn Belt Contractors, formed of Boskalis International and Van Oord Dredging & Marine Contractors, with Hochtief Solutions and Ed Züblin as nominated subcontractors.

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