Half an hour in the life of a tunnel engineer

It starts with an email from the Buenos Aries Office with a problem with the Brazilian rail job. Why this is being run from an office in Argentina I’ve no idea, but it adds to the fun as it ensures they’re also a long way from the client; it’s over 1,200 miles as the crow flies between Buenos Aires and Rio or about the distance between Oslo and Rome as a helpful European comparison.

Anyway amongst the vital questions was, how much will the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM ) used on the main tunnel sections cost to buy. Bear in mind this is still at the consultation/pre-tender stage (I think, inexplicably they failed to keep me up to date on the confidential commercial secrets of the Brazilian governments)  so quite a lot is still up in the air, but a job is a job and what can you do? So I poke through some old files on the job, scan a few websites, suck air through my teeth and pluck an approximate figure out of the air of a few tens of million dollars. Ish. Plus  or minus a few million.  While this may seem somewhat vague there are two good reasons I’m happy with that answer;

1. Given how much is unknown it’s probably about as good as you can get

2. The total project budget is several billion dollars and I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t inflate considerably before completion, hence a few million on the  TBM is really not going to change anything one way or the other.

So there you have it, a glimpse into the fun life of a tunnel engineer. Guessing at prices that probably don’t matter on jobs you aren’t really fully informed on that may or may not happen. Still in the event it does all happen in time for the 2014 World Cup I will have a slight sense of pride knowing my vague guess work (or valuable international expertise as the Brazilian government officially call it)  helped define the route. Mind you if the route gets built in time for 2014 the Brazilian government will have worked a major engineering miracle  to defy all logic and history or have sold their souls to Lucifer in a classic Faustian Pact. Either way my contribution will look fairly irrelevant. Sigh.


One Response to “Half an hour in the life of a tunnel engineer”

  1. […] a Tunnel Engineer Today was varied and, as someone recently mentioned they liked the earlier Day in the life post I thought I’d do […]

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