Gibraltar Tunnel

Gibraltar Tunnel

Infobox tunnel
name = Gibraltar Tunnel

caption =
line =
location = Strait of Gibraltar
system = Railway tunnel
start = 2008
end = 2025
stations =
status = Project at planning phase
open =
close =
owner = Spanish and governments
operator =
character =
linelength = convert|39|km|mi
tracklength =
notrack =
gauge =
el =
speed =
hielevation =
lowelevation= ~convert|300|m|ft below sea level|

Gibraltar Tunnel is envisioned as a rail tunnel that would link Africa and Europe. The idea of a link via a bridge or a tunnel across the Strait of Gibraltar has existed since the 1980s. [ cite web
url =
title = First agreement between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Kingdom of Spain (1980)
accessdate = 2007-01-10
publisher =
] [ cite web
url =
title = Second agreement between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Kingdom of Spain (1989)
accessdate = 2007-01-10
publisher =
] The Spanish and s have been jointly investigating the feasibility of a tunnel underneath the strait, similar to the Channel Tunnel between the UK and France.

The idea of a tunnel for petrol/diesel powered road vehicles has been discounted due to the currently insurmountable engineering challenge of ventilation to remove exhaust gases from automobiles from a tunnel some 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) long. A new three-year study for a railway tunnel was announced in 2003. The strait depth extends to 900 metres (3000 ft), and is about 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) wide at its narrowest point. The project would be financed by two publicly owned companies in Spain and Morocco.

The decision on building the tunnel is said to be near, as Swiss engineers finalize a study to determine if the tunnel is technically possible.cite news
last = Wood | first = Danny
title = Spain-Africa link decision 'near' | work = BBC News | publisher =
date = 2008-07-19 | url =
accessdate = 2008-07-20

Original proposals

A group of American and British engineers have studied the feasibility of building a bridge to span the Strait. [cite web
url =
title = Strait of Gibraltar Floating Bridge
accessdate = 2007-01-10
publisher = tsui design and research
quote = United States architect Eugene Tsui has designed the longest bridge in the world, spanning the Strait of Gibraltar and connecting the continents of Europe and Africa
] Such a bridge would have been of a combination suspension-truss design and its height, over 900 metres (3000 ft), would dwarf any existing bridge. A bridge was ruled out because of the depth of the strait (900 metres, 3000 feet).

A floating bridge was not an option either because of the number of ships passing through the Gibraltar corridor and the strong currents of the strait.


In December 2003, Spain and Morocco agreed to explore the construction of an undersea rail tunnel to connect their rail systems. In late 2006, Lombardi Engineering Ltd, a Swiss engineering and design company, was retained to draft a design for a railway tunnel. [cite web
url =
title = Swiss plan tunnel under Strait of Gibraltar
accessdate = 2007-01-10
author = swissinfo with agencies
publisher =
] Preliminary studies should be finished by 2008. According to the company, the main differences between the construction of this tunnel and that of the Channel Tunnel, linking France and Great Britain, is the depth of the sea and the geological conditions are also different. The area under the Strait is less stable than that under the English Channel as an active major geologic fault, the Azores-Gibraltar Transform Fault bisects the Strait, and severe earthquakes have been known to occur in the area.

It is projected to carry 9 million passengers in its first year of operation, which is expected to start in 2025. No official figures about the cost of the project have been announced yet but older estimates talk about a minimum of €5bn. [cite web
url =,,1926962,00.html
title = By train from Europe to Africa - undersea tunnel project takes a leap forward
accessdate = 2007-01-10
publisher = The Guardian
quote =

Technical aspect

The twin rail tunnel would be convert|40|km|mi long, convert|300|m|ft deep, and its construction could take 15 years. Like the Channel Tunnel, it would feature two s connected by a central service tunnel.

The rail gauge of the tunnel would be standard gauge (4'8.5" or 1435 millimetres), to match the proposed construction and conversion of significant parts of the existing broad gauge Spanish system to standard gauge. [ [ "Europe-Africa rail tunnel agreed"]] [ [ "Africa and Europe set for tunnel link"]] . The line is likely to be electrified at 25 kV AC, the same as Spanish AVE lines, despite both having 3kV DC electrification systems, as the 25kV AC is more modern and requires less infrastructure.

The tunnel will link Cape Malabata near Tangier with Punta Paloma 40km west of Gibraltar. [cite web
url =
title = Spain and Morocco agree to rail tunnel under Gibraltar strait
accessdate = 2007-01-10
publisher =
quote =
] This link will be 300 metres (around 900 feet) deep. The original link was planned to link the two continents via the narrowest part of the strait but this idea was dismissed as it is 900 metres (around 2700 feet) deep. Even 300 m is deep since today's deepest undersea tunnel, the Eiksund tunnel is 287 m (942 ft) below sea level.

Aside from the actual tunnel itself, it is likely that a branch from the Madrid-Seville AVE line will connect to the tunnel at the north end. There are also proposals to develop a high speed network in Morocco. Similarly, terminals will have to be constructed for trans-shipment of road vehicles like those at Cheriton and Frethun


A new geological study a study presented to the Spanish public company SECEG, which is in charge of the project along with Morocco's SNED, has cast doubt on the feasibility of the project.

Two clay sections under the sea would make it difficult to build the tunnel, and "It is not clear whether it will be possible", SECEG president Angel Aparicio said. [ [ Doubts cast over tunnel plan] ]

ee also

* Extreme Engineering
* Gibraltar Bridge
* Strait of Messina Bridge

External links

* [ "Agreement between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Kingdom of Spain regarding the fixed connection between Europe and Africa through the Strait of Gibraltar"] fr icon

References and notes

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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