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CIRIA C671 London 2009

inspection, assessment
and maintenance
L McKibbins Mott MacDonald Ltd
R Elmer Golder Associates (UK) Ltd
K Roberts Atkins

Classic House, 174–180 Old Street, London EC1V 9BP

TEL: +44 (0)20 7549 3300 FAX: +44 (0)20 7253 0523
Tunnels: inspection, assessment and maintenance

McKibbins, L, Elmer, R, Roberts, K


CIRIA C671 © CIRIA 2009 RP712 ISBN: 978-086017-671-8

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data

A catalogue record is available for this book from the British Library.

Transport infrastructure, facilities management, health and safety, knowledge
management, materials, materials technology, regulation, site management, sustainable
construction, whole-life costing

Reader interest Classification

Asset management, civil AVAILABILITY Unrestricted
infrastructure, tunnel CONTENT Advice/guidance document
condition appraisal,
inspection, maintenance STATUS Committee-guided
and repair USER Asset owners, managers, designers,
contractors, tunnel and civil engineers

Published by CIRIA, Classic house, 174-180 Old Street, London, EC1V 9BP

This publication is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information on the subject matter covered. It is
sold and/or distributed with the understanding that neither the authors nor the publisher is thereby engaged in
rendering a specific legal or any other professional service. While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy
and completeness of the publication, no warranty or fitness is provided or implied, and the authors and publisher
shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damage arising from
its use.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,
including photocopying and recording, without the written permission of the copyright-holder, application for
which should be addressed to the publisher. Such written permission must also be obtained before any part of this
publication is stored in a retrieval system of any nature.

If you would like to reproduce any of the figures, text or technical information from this or any other CIRIA
publication for use in other documents or publications, please contact the Publishing Department for more details
on copyright terms and charges at: or tel: 020 7549 3300.


This guide provides infrastructure owners, consulting engineers, contractors and

maintenance managers with guidance on the management, condition appraisal,
maintenance and repair of the structural elements of existing infrastructure tunnels,
focusing primarily on older infrastructure and certain tunnel types. It is based on a
detailed review of published literature and infrastructure owners’ procedures,
consultation with experts and practitioners within the field, and case studies illustrating a
wide variety of tunnel maintenance issues, repairs and incidences.

The purpose of the guide is to:

 present current good practice

 provide a guide for routine management
 recommend assessment, maintenance and repair strategies to give best value for
 help knowledge sharing.

Tunnels remain a vital part of the transport and services infrastructure in the UK and
other countries. However, they are facing many challenges associated with their extended
period in service, changing requirements and the continuing subsurface development of
modern cities. To ensure the continued efficient use of these assets in the future it is
necessary to manage and maintain their structural elements carefully, with due regard to,
and an adequate understanding of, their special characteristics and needs. In several
important ways these are distinct from those of more modern structures, and the effective
stewardship of older infrastructure tunnels requires some specialist knowledge and a
particular approach. This guide provides information and guidance to assist those
responsible for this task in achieving their aims.

The book is divided as follows:

Chapter 1: introduction and general background information on the document, including

advice on how and where to find help.

Chapter 2: an overview of tunnel construction history, techniques and materials,

behaviour and performance, which is intended to be particularly useful to readers with
less experience in this type of structure.

Chapter 3: advice on tunnel management, statutory obligations, health and safety and
environmental considerations, and strategies for condition assessment and maintenance

Chapter 4: condition appraisal, including information and guidance on carrying out

inspections, investigations, monitoring and structural assessment of tunnels.

Chapter 5: the selection and enforcement of structural maintenance and repair


Chapter 6: advice on dealing with water ingress in tunnels where this is problematic.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 iii

Chapter 7: summary of recommendations for good practice, and discussion of future
research and development needs.

Appendixes A1 to A7 give more detailed information to support Chapters 1 to 7.

Appendix A1 includes case studies illustrating the practical nature of the issues discussed
in Chapters 1 to 7.



Leo D McKibbins BSc (Hons) MSc CEng MIMMM FGS

Leo is a principal engineer with the Special Services unit of Mott MacDonald Ltd
consulting engineers, currently working on the delivery of unified specifications for the
Crossrail project. Originally trained as a geologist at University College London he
entered the field of engineering after an MSc in Geomaterials at Queen Mary College
(University of London). He has over 12 years experience in the investigation, condition
assessment and design of remedial measures for a wide variety of civil engineering
structures including tunnels. He has particular expertise in the specification, assessment
and remediation of construction materials and dealing with the causes and effects of water
ingress into tunnels.

Richard Elmer BSc (Hons) MSc CEng MIMMM MCSM

Richard is a senior geotechnical specialist at Golder Associates (UK) Ltd. He is a

geotechnical advisor with 20 years experience in investigation, assessment, design and
construction supervision of underground works in rock and soil. His expertise includes
rock mass characterisation, design of ground support measures and management of
geotechnical assets, particularly relating to rail infrastructure. Educated at Southampton
University (BSc Geology) and Camborne School of Mines (MSc Mining Geology), Richard
has worked on tunnelling projects worldwide including those in Australia, China, Turkey,
Malaysia and Europe.

Kevin Roberts BSc (Hons) CEng MIMMM

Kevin is a principal engineer for Atkins. He is currently seconded onto the Crossrail
project within the Arup-Atkins Framework Design Consultancy for Crossrail Ltd. Before
this he was seconded into BCV & SSL Metronet working on London Underground PPP
contract for civil works as the deep tube tunnels inspection and assessment delivery
manager. In this role he advised the civils maintenance teams responsible for the LU
tunnels on issues of tunnel maintenance. He has close to 25 years experience in ground
investigation, assessment, design and construction supervision of earth structures and
tunnels in rock and soil. Educated at Surrey University (BSc Civil Engineering), Kevin has
worked on a variety of geotechnical and tunnelling projects in the UK, Africa, North
America, Hong Kong, China and Europe, including long-term overseas placements.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 v

Project Steering Group

Following CIRIA’s usual practice, the research project was guided by a steering group,
which included:

Brian Bell (chairman) Network Rail

Simon Brightwell Aperio Ltd
Geoff Edgell (Prof)* CERAM
Robert Ford Highways Agency
Peter Harris* Donaldson Associates
Tim Hughes (Prof) Cardiff University
Gerald Kerr Health and Safety Executive
Jack Knight Scott Wilson (formerly with Charles Haswell & Ptnrs)
Donald Lamont (Dr) Channel Tunnel Safety Authority
John Lane RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board)
Andrew Lawrence Arup
Jim Moriarty London Underground
Ganga Prakhya (Dr) Sir Robert McAlpine
Chris Reynard British Waterways
Tony Salmon London Underground
Tim Simpson Atkins and Metronet
Colin Sims Network Rail
Len Smith Transport for London
Brian Thomas Transport for London
Peter Wright* Tube Lines

* Corresponding members


RSSB (Rail Safety and Standards Board)

Health and Safety Executive
London Underground
Tube Lines
Network Rail
Scottish Water

Research contractor

John Perry (Dr) (project director) Mott MacDonald

Leo McKibbins (lead author) Mott MacDonald
Richard Elmer (author) Golders (formerly with Mott MacDonald)
Kevin Roberts (author) Atkins

The case studies and adaptations of technical papers were written and contributed by the
authorship team and members of the Project Steering Group, together with:

Robert Hills Donaldson Associates

David Jarvis Owen Williams Railways
Chris Levy Mott MacDonald
Chris W Rees May Gurney
Martin Roach Metronet
Danny Swannell Owen Williams Railways
Ian Wilson Network Rail

Appendix A7 worked examples by:

Giuseppe Simonelli Mott MacDonald

CIRIA Project managers

Project managed and directed by Chris Chiverrell. The project proposal was developed by
Dr Andrew Pitchford and Natalia Brodie-Greer (née Brodie-Hubbard).

In memoriam

This publication is dedicated to the memory of Jack Knight who tragically died before its
completion. As a member of the project steering group he gave valuable input to many
chapters, constructive comments on initial drafts and willingly gave to the project team a
download of his considerable experience and knowledge of all things “tunnelling” for the
benefit of the final publication and its readers. He will be sadly missed by the tunnelling
community and those fortunate enough to have worked with him.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 vii


Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .iii
Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .v
Boxes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xiv
Figures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xiv
Tables . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xx
Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xxii
Abbreviations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xxix

1 Introduction and background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

1.1 Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
1.2 Purpose and scope of work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
1.3 Application . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
1.4 Issues dealt with in this guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
1.5 How to use this guide . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5

2 Construction and behaviour . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

2.1 Tunnel construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
2.1.1 History . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
2.1.2 Construction method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Cut-and-cover tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Bored tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
2.1.3 Excavation methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
2.1.4 Stress redistribution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17
2.1.5 Ground failure mechanisms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
2.1.6 Temporary support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20
2.1.7 Primary and secondary linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21
2.2 Construction shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22
2.2.1 Shaft construction techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22
2.2.2 Shaft eyes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23
2.2.3 Closed shafts (blind shafts) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24
2.3 Masonry linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26
2.3.1 Lining profile, thickness and quality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
2.3.2 Lining construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28
2.3.3 Inverts and drainage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
2.3.4 Brickwork bonds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
2.3.5 Construction joints in brickwork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
2.3.6 Masonry materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 Mortar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31 Stone . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34 Brick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
2.3.7 Structural behaviour of masonry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36

2.4 Metal linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37
2.4.1 Cast iron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .37
2.4.2 Steel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
2.5 Pre-cast concrete linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
2.5.1 Lining forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41 Bolted pre-cast concrete lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42 Expanded concrete linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43
2.5.2 Casting methods and reinforcement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43
2.6 Tunnel performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44
2.6.1 Structural deterioration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44
2.6.2 Materials deterioration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Masonry linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47 Metal linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49 Deterioration of concrete linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51 Deterioration of unlined tunnel support . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55
2.6.3 Effect of fire on tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .55 The influence of structural form . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 Concrete and masonry linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56 Metallic linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .58
2.7 Shaft performance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .60
2.7.1 Effect at ground level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61

3 Tunnel asset management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63

3.1 The need for tunnel management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63
3.2 Special requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .63
3.3 Loss of performance and its consequences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .64
3.4.1 Appraisal of current condition, performance and serviceability . . . .66
3.4.2 Maintenance strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69 Planned maintenance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69 Reactive maintenance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70
3.4.3 Maintenance planning and prioritisation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70 Assessment of tunnel criticality . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70 Effect of maintenance strategy on tunnel performance . . .71 Effect of maintenance strategy on inspection intervals . . . .72 Optimising planned maintenance strategies . . . . . . . . . . . .72 Deferral of maintenance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73 Minimising disruption from tunnel maintenance . . . . . . . .73
3.5 Tunnel management procedures and tools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73
3.5.1 Tunnel information requirements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .73
3.5.2 Tunnel management systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75
3.5.3 Tunnel identification and referencing systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75
3.5.4 Managing risk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76
3.5.5 Whole-life asset costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .77
3.6 Health and safety and environmental management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78
3.6.1 Health and safety management . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .78

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 ix

3.6.2 Competence and training of staff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .80
3.6.3 Heritage conservation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81
3.6.4 Environmental conservation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .81 Conservation bodies and environmental legislation . . . . . .81 Wildlife conservation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83 Managing environmental impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .83
3.7 Tunnel operational safety and fire risks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .87
3.8 Management of tunnel shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89
3.8.1 Shaft identification and location . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90
3.8.2 Maintaining shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .90
3.8.3 Development of land above shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91
3.9 Management of closed and disused tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .91

4 Condition appraisal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93

4.1 Types and sources of information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .93
4.2 Desk studies and existing information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94
4.3 Visual inspection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95
4.3.1 Advantages and limitations of visual inspection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .95
4.3.2 Types of visual inspection and inspection intervals . . . . . . . . . . . . . .96
4.3.3 Competence of inspection staff . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .99
4.3.4 Visual inspection procedures and techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .99
4.3.5 Optimising inspection procedures and results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100
4.4 Tunnel investigation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102
4.4.1 Objectives of tunnel investigation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102
4.4.2 Investigation strategy and reliability of results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102
4.4.3 Techniques for tunnel investigation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .104
4.4.4 Selection of investigation techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105
4.4.5 Optimising tunnel investigations and results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .107
4.5 Tunnel monitoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .109
4.5.1 Objectives of tunnel monitoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .109
4.5.2 Monitoring instrumentation and techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110
4.5.3 Selection and design of monitoring systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .110
4.6 Preparing for inspections and investigations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .112
4.6.1 Risk assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .112
4.6.2 Access, programming and timing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113
4.7 Location and inspection of tunnel shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .114
4.7.1 Detection and location of unknown hidden shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . .114
4.7.2 Shaft inspection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .114
4.8 Interpretation of inspection and investigation data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .116
4.8.1 The importance of good interpretation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .116
4.8.2 Considerations for interpretation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .116
4.9 Structural assessment of tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .122
4.9.1 Assessment in principle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .123 Qualitative assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .124 Analytical assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .125

x Cast iron and steel linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .127
4.9.2 Multi-level assessment procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .129
4.9.3 Structural defects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .132
4.10 Reporting on and interpreting asset condition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .133
4.10.1 Reporting inspection and investigation results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .133
4.10.2 Initial evaluation and identification of sensitive structures . . . . . . .134
4.10.3 Interpretation of results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .135
4.10.4 Condition ratings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .136

5 Selecting and carrying out works on tunnels and shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .138

5.1 Selection, planning and preparation for works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .138
5.1.1 Planning and programming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .138
5.1.2 Managing risk . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .139
5.1.3 Selection of techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .140
5.1.4 Method statements and risk assessments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .141
5.1.5 Completion of works and beyond . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .142
5.2 Tunnel repair measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .142
5.3 Routine (preventative) maintenance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .144
5.3.1 Tunnel cleaning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .145
5.3.2 Drainage maintenance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .148
5.3.3 Management and removal of vegetation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .149
5.3.4 Repointing of masonry-lined tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .149
5.3.5 Application of protective coatings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .151 Metal tunnel linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .151 Concrete, brick and masonry linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .152
5.4 Remedial repairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .152
5.4.1 Masonry linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .153 Patch repairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .156 Crack repairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .159 Ring separation repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .160
5.4.2 Metal tunnel linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .161 Cast iron lining repairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .162 Wrought iron and steel repairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .166 Alternative repair solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .167
5.4.3 Concrete tunnel linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .168 Concrete repairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .169 Other types of treatment and repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .173
5.5 Strengthening and structural improvement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .175
5.5.1 Replacement and strengthening existing tunnel linings . . . . . . . . .175 Replacement of tunnel lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .177 Tunnel strengthening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .178 Replacement of structural elements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .180
5.5.2 Underpinning of masonry-lined tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .183 Continuous strip foundations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .185 Piling methods . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .186

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 xi

5.5.3 Invert repair (strengthening/replacement) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .188
5.5.4 Rock stabilisation: unlined tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .189
5.6 Treatment of tunnel shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .194
5.6.1 Access for working . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .195
5.6.2 Shaft lining maintenance, repair and decommissioning . . . . . . . . .196 Deteriorating cross-members . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .196 Water ingress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .196 Shaft lining stability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .197 Relining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .197
5.6.3 Filling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .197
5.6.4 Grouting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .198
5.6.5 Capping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .199

6 Water ingress and control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .201

6.1 General considerations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .201
6.2 Passive measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .204
6.2.1 Drip trays (including guttering and down pipes) . . . . . . . . . . . . . .205
6.2.2 Secondary lining systems (or drainage membrane) . . . . . . . . . . . .205
6.2.3 Weep holes (and pipes) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .207
6.2.4 Channelling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .207
6.3 Active measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .207
6.3.1 Caulking, bolt holes, grummets and grout holes . . . . . . . . . . . . . .208 Caulking joints in segmental linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .208 Sealing bolt holes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .211 Sealing grout holes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .211
6.3.2 Surface sealing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .211
6.4 Grouting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .212
6.4.1 Grouting technique selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .212 Cementitious grouts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .215 Chemical (resin) grouts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216
6.4.2 Grouting masonry-lined tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .219 Grouting procedures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .221
6.4.3 Metal or pre-cast concrete segmental lined tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . .224
6.4.4 Concrete-lined tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .225
6.4.5 Void grouting behind linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .225
6.5 Alternative measures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .226
6.5.1 Groundwater lowering (dewatering using well-points) . . . . . . . . . .226
6.5.2 Electro-osmosis (dewatering) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .227

7 Recommendations and future needs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .229

7.1 Recommendations for good practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .229
7.2 Areas requiring further research and future needs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .231

References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .233

Further reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .246

Regulations and standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .247

Regulations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .247
Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .247


A1 Case studies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .249

Case study 1 Remedial treatments to Folkestone Rail tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .250
Case study 2 Investigation and treatment of ground instability and water ingress at
Blackheath tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .267
Case study 3 Strengthening of Brunel’s Thames Tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .281
Case study 4 Standedge North Railway Tunnel: investigations and design of major
remedial works . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .288
Case study 5 Geophysical surveying to identify hidden shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .304
Case study 6 Relining of Blisworth Tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .306
Case study 7 Leak sealing and rehabilitation of Sewer Tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .310
Case study 8 Management of a disused and deteriorated rail tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . .316
Case study 9 Reconstruction of an underground line tunnel at Old Street . . . . . . . .321
Case study 10 Inspection and maintenance of a raw water tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .328
Case study 11 Investigation and construction joint mapping of Haymarket Tunnels . .335
Case study 12 Relining of Sugar Loaf Tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .338
Case study 13 Structural monitoring strategy for the Channel Tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . .340
Case study 14 Invert reconstruction and other structural repairs to Netherton
Canal Tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .346
Case study 15 Piling adjacent to deep and near-surface tunnels in London . . . . . . . .350
Case study 16 Predicting and monitoring the effects of adjacent construction on
masonry-lined tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .354
Case study 17 A feasibility-based risk matrix for option selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .359
Case study 18 Tunnel fires, collapses and other serious incidents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .369

A2 Sources of existing information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .385

A2.1 Sources of historical information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .385
A2.2 Sources of geological and hydrogeological information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .387
A2.3 Aerial photographs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .389
A2.4 Utilities and services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .389
A2.5 Walkover survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .389

A3 Visual inspection procedures and observations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .393

A3.1 Preparation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .393
A3.2 Observation and recording . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .393

A4 Inspection, investigation and monitoring techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .403

A4.1 Inspection, mapping and simple on-site tests . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .404
A4.2 Sampling and testing techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .410
A4.3 Specialist non-destructive investigation techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .419
A4.4 Techniques for monitoring . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .429

A5 Detection and location of hidden shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .433

A5.1 Multi-phase approach to shaft location . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .433

A6 Investigation and assessment of unlined tunnels and shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .442

A6.1 Desk study . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .442

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 xiii

A6.2 Reconnaissance visit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .442
A6.3 Detailed survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .442
A6.4 Scan line mapping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .443
A6.5 Rock mass mapping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .444
A6.6 Rock mass classification systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .445

A7 Guidance on structural assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .447

A7.1 Limit state assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .447
A7.2 Assessment principles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .448
A7.3 Worked examples . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .452
Worked example 1: Cast iron . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .453
Worked example 2: Concrete . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .461
Worked example 3: Masonry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .469


Box 3.1 Dealing with bats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84

Box 5.1 Assessing the nature of a crack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .160


Figure 2.1 Typical tunnel profiles for UK railways . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Figure 2.2 Typical section through a C&C railway tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
Figure 2.3 Typical cross-section of a bored railway tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11
Figure 2.4 Typical excavation sequence for canal tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .13
Figure 2.5 Typical cross-sections and dimensions of narrow and wide canal tunnels . .13
Figure 2.6 Typical annular infill for lined tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14
Figure 2.7 Hand-excavation and spoil removal from the top-heading of a tunnel,
using the English method of construction popular in the 19th century,
showing temporary timber supports. A completed bottom heading is
also visible . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15
Figure 2.8 Stress redistribution around a circular tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
Figure 2.9 Stress concentrations around a non-circular opening . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Figure 2.10 Temporary support formwork and replacement with a multi-ring
brickwork lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20
Figure 2.11 Typical railway tunnel shaft construction details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23
Figure 2.12 Temporary support detail at shaft eye . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24
Figure 2.13 Typical rail tunnel shaft eye construction details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24
Figure 2.14 Possible states of construction and ventilation shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Figure 2.15 Examples of open and closed shafts in a brick-lined tunnel. The closed
shaft, on the right, has been capped off just above the eye so is easily
visible, but this is often not the case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .25
Figure 2.16 Rail tunnel (Clifton Hall tunnel) with multi-ring masonry lining and
structural invert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27
Figure 2.17 An example of one method of brickwork bonding for masonry arches . .30
Figure 2.18 A construction joint picked out by its shadow using low-angle
lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31
Figure 2.19 Two views of construction joints: clearly visible joint where dog-toothing
is absent (a) and joint is more difficult to spot, but is marked by subtle
irregularity of brickwork and slightly wider vertically aligned joints (b) . . . .31

Figure 2.20 Original drawings from Rotherhithe Tunnel (1908) with bolted grey
cast iron sections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38
Figure 2.21 Typical construction and joint details for a London Underground
bolted grey iron lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .39
Figure 2.22 Bolted cast iron lining with water seepage at joint . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40
Figure 2.23 Example of a 3D FE model of a cast iron lining incorporating a vertical
crack in the sidewall, shown in white . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
Figure 2.24 Typical bolted pre-cast concrete lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42
Figure 2.25 Section through Potters Bar tunnel expanded pre-cast concrete lining . .43
Figure 2.26 Typical forms of lining deformation in brick-lined tunnels . . . . . . . . . . .47
Figure 2.27 Deep spalling of soft red brick near to a tunnel portal caused by
freeze-thaw damage . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49
Figure 2.28 Collapse of part of masonry lining at the waterline in a canal tunnel
due to a combination of deteriorative mechanisms (moisture saturation
and leaching, salt weathering and freeze-thaw) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49
Figure 2.29 Corroded cast iron lining in Aldwych shaft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51
Figure 2.30 Acid attack of tunnel lining at Bond Street, London Underground . . . .52
Figure 2.31 Concrete spalling from segmental lining sections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54
Figure 2.32 Gasket deterioration of circle joints and around key block in concrete
segmentally lined tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54
Figure 2.33 Simplified method for determining the zone of influence of tunnels (a)
and shafts only (b) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61
Figure 3.1 Information required for an assessment of tunnel serviceability . . . . . . .67
Figure 3.2 Outline process for assessing and maintaining serviceability of tunnels . . .68
Figure 3.3 Relationship of serviceable life, performance and maintenance
interventions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71
Figure 3.4 Proprietary bat brick artificial roost and suggested locations for
installation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .84
Figure 3.5 Results of collapse of material into an incompletely filled shaft (1909) . . .89
Figure 4.1 Two views down a tunnel shaft. Water ingress and the presence of
shaft furniture can obstruct inspection and other work in shafts and
should be taken into account when planning access . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .115
Figure 4.2 Diagram illustrating the application of the limit analysis method to a
masonry tunnel lining in principle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .127
Figure 4.3 Assessment of cast iron linings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .128
Figure 4.4 Exploiting the symmetry conditions to avoid boundary condition
problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .130
Figure 5.1 Thick accumulation of soot on a rail tunnel crown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .146
Figure 5.2 Guttering and downpipe system that has been installed to channel
water ingress from a tunnel wall into the invert drain, but has not
been maintained so that it is no longer effective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .149
Figure 5.3 Several visibly distinct phases of patch repair to an old rail tunnel
lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .156
Figure 5.4 Typical patch repair to two courses of brickwork (a) with pinning
detail (b) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .157
Figure 5.5 Carrying out patch repairs using temporary supports . . . . . . . . . . . . .158
Figure 5.6 Installation of stitching bars along a crack . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .159
Figure 5.7 Brick lining pinning for grouting ring separation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .161
Figure 5.8 Typical example of a damaged circle joint flange of a bolted cast iron
lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .162

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 xv

Figure 5.9 Typical example of flange strapping in cast iron lined tunnels . . . . . . .162
Figure 5.10 Typical example of plate repair to cast iron tunnel segment pan . . . . .163
Figure 5.11 Metal stitching process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .165
Figure 5.12 Example of metal stitching of cast iron tunnel lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .165
Figure 5.13 Strengthening repair of buckled steel section lintel used in an
opening of a cast iron lined tunnel due to structural defect . . . . . . . . .167
Figure 5.14 Typical patch repair of pre-cast concrete tunnel lining . . . . . . . . . . . . .171
Figure 5.15 Example of cracking in pre-cast expanded concrete tunnel lining . . . .172
Figure 5.16 Use of ribs and sprayed concrete to provide a secondary lining . . . . . .179
Figure 5.17 Underpinning a tunnel portal structure by piling to prevent structural
movement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .187
Figure 5.18 Details of a replacement invert (a) details of an overslab invert (b) . . . .189
Figure 5.19 Support of unlined tunnels using rock bolts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .191
Figure 5.20 Examples of different types of rockbolts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .194
Figure 5.21 Grouted plug remedial measure for deteriorating shaft lining . . . . . . .199
Figure 5.22 Potential failure mechanism of a shaft cap located at rock head level . .199
Figure 6.1 Drip trays to control water ingress before (a) and after installation (b) . .206
Figure 6.2 Reconstruction of the lining of the Mersey Tunnel (a) exposed painted
cast iron and stainless steel support members for panels during
installation works (b) partially completed section of secondary lining
with panels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .207
Figure 6.3 Seepage from circumferential joints in a pre-cast concrete lined
tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .210
Figure 6.4 Typical seepage from cast iron segmental lining grout hole . . . . . . . . .211
Figure 6.5 Summary of grouting techniques . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .213
Figure 6.6 Grouting operation in progress in a pre-cast concrete segmental
lined tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .219
Figure 6.7 Series of longstanding point leaks from the lower part of the arch in a
brick lined tunnel, made clear by the thick deposits of carbonate that
have built up on the brickwork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .220
Figure 6.8 Section through a multi-ring brick arch illustrating the positioning of
the access holes relative to the structure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .222
Figure 6.9 Elevation showing a typical access hole pattern . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .222
Figure 6.10 Section through cracked masonry arch showing typical grout access
hole layout (note structural thickness and type of grout used to
determine the access hole centres) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .223
Figure 6.11 Elevation and structural drawing of an access hole pattern for sealing
a joint in brickwork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .223
Figure 6.12 Closely spaced access holes to deal with point leaks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .224
Figure A1.1 Abbotscliffe tunnel portal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .250
Figure A1.2 Geological section and corresponding view of west portal . . . . . . . . . .251
Figure A1.3 Fracturing in the masonry lining wall in Abbotscliffe tunnel . . . . . . . . .251
Figure A1.4 Window panel through lining exposes chalk at extrados . . . . . . . . . . .253
Figure A1.5 Trial pit through ballast to expose footings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .253
Figure A1.6 Lydden Spout, February 2006 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .255
Figure A1.7 Remedial treatment at Lydden Spout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .255
Figure A1.8 Drilling for rock dowels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .257
Figure A1.9 Rotating cutter head removing brick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .258
Figure A1.10 Excavated wall panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .258

Figure A1.11 Applying sprayed concrete to crown . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .259
Figure A1.12 Typical array of monitoring instrumentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .260
Figure A1.13 View of Martello tunnel portal (a) and details of its lining profile (b) . . .262
Figure A1.14 Example condition matrices. Inspection June 1964 (a) and Inspection
February 2002 (b) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .262
Figure A1.15 Re-lining in Martello Tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .264
Figure A1.16 Framing to patch repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .264
Figure A1.17 Brick excavation in Martello . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .265
Figure A1.18 Martello wall panel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .265
Figure A1.19 Water streams from the base of one of the plastic sheets used to deflect
its flow down the tunnel wall rather than spouting into the running
area of the tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .267
Figure A1.20 Site investigation resulted in some additional subsidence at the ground
surface, affecting an area of about 1 m², which subsided by around 300
mm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .270
Figure A1.21 Idealised cross-section through tunnel at location of water ingress
showing inferred ground conditions and water pathway between
perched water table and tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .271
Figure A1.22 Design for the geogrid capping layer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .275
Figure A1.23 Construction of the capping layer using geotextile and
engineering fill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .275
Figure A1.24 Finite element structural modelling results for tunnel lining subjected
to full ground loading, hydrostatic water and grout pressures during
injection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .277
Figure A1.25 Section of the 3D laser-scanning survey results showing one side of
the tunnel intrados folded flat as a 2D image . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .277
Figure A1.26 Design of the grout injection scheme, showing amber zone (1.5 m to
3 m offset from tunnel extrados) where strict controls on drilling and
injection were adopted . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .279
Figure A1.27 The original tunnel after removal of services, track and ballast . . . . . .282
Figure A1.28 Completed lining, including architectural features . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .282
Figure A1.29 Invert construction in progress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .284
Figure A1.30 Temporary propping to tunnel during cross-passage reconstruction . .284
Figure A1.31 Fixing waterproofing membrane to new tunnel lining . . . . . . . . . . . . .285
Figure A1.32 Cross-section through the tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .289
Figure A1.33 Repair histories of tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .293
Figure A1.34 Pre-cast concrete cess trough and CHS pile . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .298
Figure A1.35 Plan of remedial works showing piles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .299
Figure A1.36 Pre-cast block in the six foot with ballast retention box . . . . . . . . . . . . .300
Figure A1.37 Invert construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .301
Figure A1.38 Relining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .302
Figure A1.39 Colwall Old Tunnel: concrete shaft cap exposed after targeting by
geophysical survey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .305
Figure A1.40 Tunnel intrados marked out in 1 m squares to allow condition mapping –
this area exhibits some spalling of brickwork at the crown . . . . . . . . . . . .307
Figure A1.41 Patch repairs underway supported off steel centering . . . . . . . . . . . . . .308
Figure A1.42 Completed patch repair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .308
Figure A1.43 Construction of concrete segmental lining within the tunnel shield . . . . . .
Figure A1.44 Grouting behind the tunnel lining to stabilise and help to waterproof it . .309

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 xvii

Figure A1.45 Partly-constructed two-ring oval profile sewer with timber heading,
Piccadilly Circus c1928 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .312
Figure A1.46 Deterioration of lower part of arch corresponding with typical location
of water inflow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .312
Figure A1.47 Cross-section showing the relative location of the two tunnels (a) and
a 3D representation of sand lens (b) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .322
Figure A1.48 Settlement profiles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .327
Figure A1.49 General condition of lining and silt deposits in first leg of tunnel 1986
inspection. Note the absence of any significant biological growth . . . . .329
Figure A1.50 View of intake shaft access with ladders that were, in the absence of
contrary information, assumed to be unsafe so that alternative safe
access methods were required (a) and entry to dewatering shaft using
a safety winch and tripod (b) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .331
Figure A1.51 Image from the 2005 inspection showing 3.66 m dia. tunnel with
persistent old longitudinal cracks in cast in situ concrete lining at
crown and shoulder positions made visible by the use of low-angle
lighting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .332
Figure A1.52 Severe spalling to original brick lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .336
Figure A1.53 Haymarket south tunnel – GPR with joint mapping . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .337
Figure A1.54 Sugar Loaf Tunnel after relining with sprayed concrete . . . . . . . . . . . .339
Figure A1.55 Instrumentation box for piezometric and vibrating wire strain gauges
(VWSG), installed in cross-passage for permanent access . . . . . . . . . . .343
Figure A1.56 Convergence measurement on the upper part of the tunnel by invar
line, with the help of the hydraulic access platform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .343
Figure A1.57 Digital plotter with data-logger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .345
Figure A1.58 Section through the original canal tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .346
Figure A1.59 Details of replacement invert . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .348
Figure A1.60 Schematic diagram of instrumentation and survey methods . . . . . . . . .349
Figure A1.61 Graph of tunnel convergence during the construction process . . . . . . .349
Figure A1.62 Deep tunnels: piling and pile-cap construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .351
Figure A1.63 Deep tunnel – influence of piling from the face of the tunnel . . . . . . . .351
Figure A1.64 Subsurface tunnel (seven ring masonry) – piling and pile cap
construction close to the tunnel walls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .352
Figure A1.65 Subsurface tunnels (five ring masonry) – propping of tunnel during
construction of a pile cap . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .352
Figure A1.66 Pile cap construction in steps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .353
Figure A1.67 Typical sections showing the proposed development near tunnels . . . .355
Figure A1.68 FE model of the tunnels and soil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .355
Figure A1.69 Typical construction operations, excavation on south side (a) and
excavation between tunnels (b) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .356
Figure A1.70 Effect of unsymmetrical excavation vs predicted in situ stresses . . . . . .356
Figure A1.71 Capacity factor vs. imperfection (a) and construction of transfer beams
over tunnels (b) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .357
Figure A1.72 Monitoring stations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .357
Figure A1.73 Plan and section of the tunnel after the accident showing timber
bulkheads and backfill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .372
Figure A1.74 Scraper being used to level off the ingressed sand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .372
Figure A1.75 Superheated, fuel-rich gases combust as oxygen becomes available
at the top of the shafts – the plumes of fire reached 50 m above
ground level and caused closure of the local A-road . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .374

Figure A1.76 Investigators stand amid the twisted wreckage of one of the wagons . .375
Figure A1.77 Rubble fills the tunnel below the collapsed area of the tunnel crown,
revealing a void behind the lining with construction timbers still
in place . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .375
Figure A1.78 Postulated subsidence mechanism showing clay plug failing in
undrained shear and relative locations of the tunnel and the Cornwallis
building . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .380
Figure A1.79 Possible collapse mechanism of tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .381
Figure A3.1 Extensive whitish surface encrustations of carbonate-minerals (typically
calcite) on a masonry tunnel lining – these have been leached out of
the mortar by water seepage and gradually deposited on the lining
surface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .399
Figure A3.2 Typical appearance of surface-wet masonry (wetness index of 2 or 3 in
accordance with the classification given in Table A3.1) near to a tunnel
portal that is gradually spalling due to freeze/thaw cycling . . . . . . . . . .400
Figure A4.1 Photography combined with oblique backlighting can be a very
useful aid to recording areas of surface-wetness on tunnel linings,
because these are highly reflective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .405
Figure A4.2 Results of combined joint mapping and ground penetrating radar
(GPR) survey to identify construction features and defects within a
masonry-lined rail tunnel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .407
Figure A4.3 Taking a 100 mm core through a brickwork tunnel lining. The lightweight
rig is bolted to the wall. Progress can be slow in hard masonry materials
and in the investigation of rail tunnels use is often made of heavier and
more powerful coring equipment mounted on track trolleys . . . . . . . . . .411
Figure A4.4 Compressive strength testing of a 300 mm diameter concrete core
while simultaneously measuring strain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .413
Figure A4.5 Trial-pit through ballast at base of tunnel sidewall to prove invert
depth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .415
Figure A4.6 Intrusive investigation through metallic segmental tunnel lining . . . . .415
Figure A4.7 Flat jack developed by Cardiff University . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .419
Figure A4.8 Resistivity survey traverse line laid out over a tunnel with suspected
hidden shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .424
Figure A4.9 Radar survey from a track-mounted cradle, with the aerial, mounted
on the end of a telescopic arm, swept over the intrados at the location
of a possible hidden shaft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .426
Figure A4.10 Surface preparation (a) and ultrasonic testing (b) of cast iron segmental
lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .428
Figure A5.1 Chimney clearly marks the location of a shaft at ground level – not
all are easily located . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .435
Figure A5.2 Results of a ground resistivity survey traverse, taken along the crown
of a masonry tunnel lining that clearly identify a potential location of a
hidden shaft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .436
Figure A5.3 Results of a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey traverse along the
crown of a masonry tunnel lining that identify a potential shaft location
of a hidden shaft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .437
Figure A5.4 Drill sequence to locate obscured shaft when position has been
reasonably well-established . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .439
Figure A5.5 Dynamic probing at possible hidden shaft location . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .439
Figure A5.6 Iso-surface interpolated from dynamic probing to locate backfilled
shaft . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .440

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 xix

Figure A5.7 Aerial photograph from which tunnel alignment and possible location
of construction shafts can be discerned based on topography. Ideally
such photographs can be viewed as stereo pairs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .441
Figure A6.1 Example scan line discontinuity log . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .444
Figure A6.2 Example discontinuity map . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .445


Table 1.1 Where to find information and guidance on specific topics . . . . . . . . . . .5

Table 2.1 Timeline of tunnel development . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7
Table 2.2 Classification of ground conditions in the 19th century . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
Table 2.3 Change in construction methods over time . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12
Table 2.4 Degree of disturbance due to excavation method . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17
Table 2.5 Ground failure mechanisms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .19
Table 2.6 Mortar mixes and compressive strengths used in the UK, and
corresponding strengths of masonry using different bricks . . . . . . . . . .33
Table 2.7 Comparison of typical strength and density values of some common
UK building stones with other construction materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
Table 2.8 Properties of some old bricks used in bridge and tunnel construction . . .35
Table 2.9 Statistical analysis of properties of brick samples from old railway
structures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .36
Table 2.10 Example results of finite element modelling of cracked cast iron lining,
as shown in Figure 2.23. This suggests that the presence of cracks has
only minor influence on tunnel deformation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
Table 2.11 Summary of causes of masonry deterioration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .48
Table 2.12 Summary of causes of metal deterioration . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50
Table 3.1 Direct and consequential cost of tunnel incidents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .65
Table 3.2 Examples of hazards and risk mitigation measures for tunnels . . . . . . . .77
Table 4.1 Current tunnel structure inspection requirements of the main UK
infrastructure owners: Network Rail (NR), Highways Agency (HA),
British Waterways (BW) and London Underground (LU) . . . . . . . . . . .97
Table 4.2 Recommended methods for direct investigation of tunnel parameters . .106
Table 4.3 Interpretation of common inspection and investigation observations . .117
Table 4.4 Closed form solution for analysis of tunnel lining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131
Table 5.1 Repair techniques for tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .143
Table 5.2 Summary of typical defects of brick and masonry tunnel linings and
possible remedial solutions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .154
Table 5.3 Principles and available methods for prevention and repair of
deterioration to structural concrete . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .169
Table 5.4 Concrete repair methods and materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .171
Table 5.5 Summary of tunnel lining replacement and strengthening techniques . .181
Table 5.6 Summary of different rockbolt types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .192
Table 6.1 Summary of passive and active water ingress control measures . . . . . .203
Table 6.2 Grouting techniques with relevant ground types . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .214
Table 6.3 Joint aperture range for various cement grouts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .216
Table A1.1 Options for water control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .263
Table A1.2 North tunnel lining details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .290
Table A1.3 Geological succession within Standedge tunnels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .291
Table A1.4 Fault locations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .292

Table A1.5 Summary of rock mass quality assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .294
Table A1.6 Summary of range of adopted Hoek-Brown Constants . . . . . . . . . . . . .295
Table A1.7 Summary of deformation modulus correlations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .297
Table A1.8 Predicted and observed movements during excavation on south . . . . .358
Table A1.9 Feasibility matrix for initial assessment of options for box tunnel
relining . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .364
Table A1.10 Detailed matrix for further assessment of shortlisted options . . . . . . . .367
Table A2.1 Primary sources of infrastructure-specific sources of tunnel
information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .385
Table A2.2 Sources of historical information – contact details . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .391
Table A2.3 Geological and other sources of information – contact details . . . . . . . .392
Table A3.1 Example of descriptive wetness index system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .400
Table A4.1 General, specialist, testing and monitoring techniques for tunnel
investigation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .403
Table A4.2 Techniques used in the investigation of ground around tunnels . . . . .416
Table A4.3 Usefulness of engineering geophysical methods for geotechnical
investigations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .421
Table A5.1 Survey techniques for the identification and location of hidden tunnel
shafts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .436
Table A7.1 Partial factors of safety for actions recommended by Eurocodes and
British Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .450

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 xxi


Action (F) An action is a force (load) applied to a structure (direct action)

or a deformation caused, for example, by temperature changes,
moisture variation, uneven settlements.

Adit A horizontal or sloping passage between a tunnel and the

ground surface or an adjacent underground structure.

Appraisal Includes the range of activities that can be involved in the

evaluation of a tunnel’s condition and performance, ie the
gathering of existing data, inspection, investigation and
structural assessment.

Arch ring The load bearing part of an arch containing one or more
overlapping rings or leaves of masonry.

Ashlar Masonry consisting of blocks of stone square dressed to given

dimensions and laid in courses with thin joints.

Aquiclude Soil or rock forming a stratum, group of strata or part of a

stratum of very low permeability, which acts as a barrier to
groundwater flow.

Aquifer Soil or rock that forms a stratum, group of strata or part of a

stratum that is water bearing.

Assessment Here used specifically to imply the evaluation of a tunnel’s

structural capacity and performance, typically by one of several
analytical methods and commonly using proprietary software
applications. Assessment can be carried out as part of a more
wide-ranging appraisal of a tunnel’s condition and

Backing or Backfill Material used to fill an excavation or give support behind a


Batch Quantity of material (here commonly grout or mortar) mixed at

one time.

Bedding plane The plane of stratification in sedimentary rock, which may also
be present in building stone produced from it.

Bed joint Horizontal joint in masonry.

Blind shaft A temporary shaft that has been covered, sealed or capped in
such a way as to render the position of the shaft discernible.

Bond An arrangement of masonry units where the vertical joints (end

joints) of one course do not coincide with those immediately
above and below. The bond type refers to the relative
arrangement of construction units in masonry, eg the presence
and combination of units laid as headers and stretchers. The
most common bond in tunnel sidewalls is English bond, whereas
arches are often constructed in stretcher bond (indicating no
connection between rings).

Cap A structural slab placed over a shaft, capable of supporting the

weight of any ground above it and any superimposed load.

Cast iron An iron-carbon alloy produced in a blast furnace containing up
to four per cent carbon.

Cementitious grout A grout containing cement and water as major ingredients.

Chemical grouts Any grouting material characterised as a pure solution with no

particles (other than impurities) in suspension.

Compaction grouting A grouting method similar to displacement grouting. Grout

generally does not enter the soil pores but remains in a
homogeneous mass that gives controlled displacement to
compact loose soils.

Centring Temporary structure on which an arch is supported during

construction, normally made from timbers.

Competent person A person who, by reason of theoretical and practical training,

actual experience or both, is competent to perform the task or
function or assume the responsibility in question and is
authorized to perform such a task or function.

Condition appraisal See Appraisal.

Conservation Work carried out with the aim of maintaining or restoring the
features of a tunnel that are important to its character, in
particular the visible parts of its structure.

Crown The highest point of the internal curved surface of a tunnel


Cut-and-cover (C&C) A method of tunnel construction in which the tunnel structure

is built in an open excavation and covered by fill.

Deepwell A groundwater extraction well of sufficient dimension to accept

a submersible pump.

Discharge The flow rate pumped out by a groundwater control system.

Drawdown The amount of lowering of the water table in an unconfined

aquifer or of the piezometric level in a confined aquifer by a
groundwater control system.

Effect (E) An effect (or action effect) on structural members, (eg internal
force, moment, stress, strain) or on the whole structure (eg
deflection, rotation). For ultimate limit states, an effect is a
quantity associated with the actions and with the structure to be
analysed, that can be directly compared with the resistance of
the structure or part of it. For serviceability limit states, effects
can be displacements, crack opening or other quantities relevant
to functioning of the structure (crack opening for instance can
be important if the structure is intended to be watertight).

Electro-osmosis A groundwater control method used in very low permeability

soils where an electric potential difference is applied to the
ground to induce groundwater flow.

English bond A strong method of building walls by laying bricks together in

alternating courses of headers and stretchers. The most
common bond in tunnel sidewalls.

Essential maintenance Rehabilitation works required to address specific inadequacies

in function and performance, eg reinstatement of deteriorated,
damaged or failed elements essential to serviceability.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 xxiii

Explosive spalling The rapid loss of the surface layers of concrete during a fire,
particularly in high strength concrete (HSC).

Extrados The outer (convex) curve of an arch or circular/semicircular

element, which in the case of a tunnel lining or shaft may be,
but is not always, in direct contact with the adjacent ground.

Fill Material used to occupy a void.

Fit for purpose A single performance criterion against which a tunnel may be
judged, indicating that it meets the full range of performance
criteria set by the asset owner, for example, in terms of its safety,
functionality and maintainability.

Garland A type of drain, formed within an excavation at the level of an

impervious stratum that underlies permeable strata, to intercept
water that would otherwise flow into the excavation.

Grommet Material used to bung a hole, typically a grout plug used in a

tunnel lining.

Groundwater Water contained within, and flowing through, the pores and
fabric of soils and fissures in rock.

Grout A liquid material injected into a soil or rock formation that gels,
stiffens or sets with time and thereby changes the physical
characteristics of the formation.

Grouting The injection of grout material under pressure into void spaces
either in naturally occurring substances such as soils or fissured
rocks, or in artificial cavities such as those found in porous
masonry or behind tunnel linings.

Haunch The lower section of an arch ring towards its springing.

Header A brick laid with its longest dimension normal to the face of a
single ring or skin of brickwork, interconnecting adjacent rings/

Heading A tunnel with a small cross-section.

Heave (base) Lifting of the floor of an excavation or structure, usually caused

by unrelieved pore water pressure or from high stresses in
natural invert materials that behave in a brittle-plastic manner.

Heavy ground Ground where excavated faces need support relatively quickly.

Hidden shaft A temporary shaft that has been buried, covered, sealed or
capped in such a way as to render the position of the shaft

High strength A term used to describe concrete that can attain a high concrete
(HSC) strength, typically 50 MPa or above. HSC potentially exhibits
good durability characteristics but can suffer from explosive
spalling in fires.

Hinge A more or less local situation at which, due to a tensile crack, the
structure can rotate as if it were an articulation.

Historic tunnel One that has some recognised historical value, through rarity or
in terms of social, cultural or engineering heritage, and is
subject to statutory protection, eg through listed building or
Scheduled Ancient Monument status. Normally applies to visible
parts only (ie portals) but exceptionally can include the tunnel.

Hydrogeology The study of the interrelationship of the geology of soils and
rock within groundwater.

Intrados The inner (concave) curve of a circular or semicircular element.

In the case of a tunnel lining or shaft, defines its internal space.

Intervention An action carried out to rectify or arrest continuing

deterioration and/or loss of performance of a tunnel through its
protection, maintenance, repair or enhancement.

Invert (tunnel invert) The bottom surface of a tunnel.

Lime mortar Pure lime (also known as fat or non-hydraulic lime) is produced
from pure limestone and relies upon gradual reaction with
atmospheric carbon dioxide (carbonation) to harden and
develop strength. Pure limes produce a mortar that is typically
weaker and more porous and permeable than impure limes
with a degree of hydraulic (water-dependent) set or those to
which Portland cement has been added (a process known as

Lined tunnel A tunnel in rock or soil where a lining is provided.

Lining Permanent or temporary cover to the rock or soil surface at the

wall of an excavation for a tunnel, shaft or adit.

Loss of fines The movement of clay, silt or sand sized particles out of the
ground towards a sump or well or through a tunnel lining.

Maintenance All the operations necessary to maintain a tunnel in a

serviceable condition until the end of its life, comprising routine
maintenance and essential maintenance.

Masonry The work of a mason, strictly referring to work in stone,

however commonly used to refer generally to work in either
brick or building stone, as it is here.

Metal linings For the purpose of this guide, it includes grey and spheroidal
graphite (SGI) cast iron and steel (including stainless steel)

Mortar A mixture of lime and/or cement, sand and water used to bind
bricks and masonry in construction, or a highly viscous,
particulate grout.

Open shaft An unfilled shaft visibly detectable from both the top and

Packer A device inserted into a drillhole through which an injection

pipe passes. Usually an expandable device activated
mechanically, hydraulically or pneumatically.

Pattern bolting Installation of rock bolts on a regular pattern and/or at

equidistant centres, ie on a square grid or square grid with one
in the centre of each square.

Permeability A measure of the ease with which water can flow through the
pores of soil or rock (also known as coefficient of permeability,
hydraulic conductivity).

Permeation grouting A grouting process for replacing water in voids between soil
grains or particles with grout fluid at a low injection pressure
without disturbing the natural structure of the ground.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 xxv

Planned maintenance Maintenance that is premeditated to keep the tunnel in a fully
serviceable condition rather than reactive in response to
inadequate performance. It can be subdivided into two types:

1 Periodic (carried out regularly at predetermined intervals).

2 Condition-based (carried out in response to a perceived or
anticipated loss of performance).

Pore pressure The interstitial pressure of water within a mass of soil, rock, or

Portal (tunnel portal) An entrance or a structure that forms an entrance to a tunnel.

Pozzolan A cement additive comprising silica in reactive form, which can

impart hydraulic set. It can be either naturally occurring (eg
volcanic ash) or artificially produced (eg brick dust or
pulverised fuel ash, PFA).

Primary lining Structural lining of a tunnel/adit/shaft.

Reactive maintenance Maintenance that is carried out in response to inadequate


Recharge well Replenishment of groundwater artificially via wells to reduce

drawdowns external to a groundwater control system or as a
means of disposing of the discharge.

Refuge An area where the tunnel cross-section is locally widened to

provide shelter to staff from traffic using the tunnel.

Ring Either a single layer or leaf of a brickwork lining consisting of

stretcher bricks, which may or may not be bonded to adjacent
leafs using headers, or an assembly of segments, one segment
wide, which forms a complete section of a lined tunnel or shaft.

Ring separation Loss of bonding between adjacent rings of brickwork (not

necessarily an open gap).

Rise Vertical height of arch from springing level to the crown of the

Rehabilitation Work that involves bringing features of a deteriorated tunnel

back into a satisfactorily functional state.

Resistance (R) Resistance is the capacity of a member or component, or a cross-

section of a member or component of a structure, to withstand
actions without mechanical failure.

Rock Relatively hard naturally occurring part of the Earth’s crust that
has not been broken down into loose material that can be
readily excavated by hand.

Routine maintenance Routine work carried out with the aim of preventing or
controlling deterioration, including inspection and monitoring
activities, and general housekeeping and minor repairs.

Rubble masonry Term describing many different types of masonry, the main
types being random rubble (stone as it comes from the quarry)
either coursed or un-coursed, and squared rubble, either
coursed or un-coursed.

Secondary lining Extra lining to the primary lining for improvement or

enhancement of performance or for decoration.

Segment An arc-shaped preformed component that forms part of the
lining of a tunnel, shaft or adit.

Segmental arch Arch whose intrados comprises a segment of a circle smaller

than a semicircle.

Semicircular arch Arch with an intrados with a semi-circle profile, ie 180º, so that
the rise is half the span.

Service life (or The period of duty after which replacement or major renewal/
serviceable life) refurbishment, rather than continued use, is anticipated to be
justifiable on an economic or operational basis.

Set The condition reached by a cement paste or grout when it has

lost plasticity to an arbitrary degree through hydration.

Shaft Vertical or steeply inclined excavation, usually of limited cross-

section in relation to its depth.

Shaft eye The intersection of a shaft with a tunnel.

Shallow arch Arch where the rise is smaller than half the span.

Shield A mobile structure, commonly cylindrical, used to support the

ground at the tunnel face ahead of the tunnel lining.

Sidewall The vertical or near-vertical internal surfaces of a tunnel,

forming a curved or straight plane that defines its sides. In an
arched tunnel the sidewalls extend up to the springings where
they support the arch. In earlier tunnels the sidewalls were
constructed to be near vertical, but later were often curved to
provide a more structurally efficient ovoid cross-section.

Soffit The underside of an element.

Soil Mineral material that results from the weathering of rock.

Soldier Masonry unit laid with its longest dimension upright and
parallel with the face of the wall, ie bedded on a face having
smaller dimensions.

Spalling Flaking and loss of material (either rock, stone, brick or

concrete) from an exposed surface normally caused by frost, salt
action or mechanical action, or, in the case of reinforced
concrete, also by corrosion of embedded metallic reinforcement.

Springing Point, line or plane from which an arch or vault springs, located
at the junction between the supporting sidewalls/abutment and
an arch or vault.

Stretcher A masonry unit laid with its longest dimension horizontal and
parallel to the face of the wall.

Stretcher bond A masonry bond in which bricks are laid in courses with
overlapping joints with their longest dimension parallel, so that
all bricks are laid as stretchers. This bond is commonly used in
masonry arches, where it indicates that there is no structural
connection between brick rings.

Tunnel An enclosed underground structure, horizontal or sloping, that

has been constructed by some means (eg cut-and-cover, boring,
jacking) to provide access for something (eg vehicles, utilities).

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 xxvii

Tunnel engineer A person responsible for the technical and engineering
processes of tunnel management, eg carrying out or making
decisions regarding condition assessment, serviceability,
performance restrictions and requirements for maintenance,
repair and alteration.

Unlined tunnel Usually in rock where structural support is provided by rock

engineering methods (eg rock-bolting) and so a lining is
structurally unnecessary and not provided.

Wellpoint Small diameter shallow well normally installed at close centres

by jetting techniques.

Wrought iron A material produced by hammering and rolling billets of iron.

Zone of influence The 3D volume of ground adjacent to a tunnel, including any

shafts or adits, which may be affected by its construction and its
later life, eg through structural instability or collapse, and
particularly the area of land surface above the tunnel that lies
within this zone.


ALARP As low as reasonably practicable

BR British Rail (now Network Rail)
BW British Waterways
CDM The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007
CP Cathodic protection
CCP Current cathodic protection
C&C Cut-and-cover
E An effect (or action effect) on structural members or the whole structure
ESR Excavation support ratio
F Force (load) applied to a structure
FE Finite element (method of structural analysis)
GIS Geographical Information System
GRC Glass reinforced cement
GRP Glass reinforced plastic
GPS Global positioning system
HA Highways Agency
HGV Heavy goods vehicle
HSC High strength concrete
ITA International Tunnelling Association
LCA Life cycle assessment
LU London Underground
MCI Migrating corrosion inhibitor
NR Network Rail
PFA Pulverised fuel ash
PHEW Panel for Historical Engineering Works
PIARC World Road Association
PPE Personal protective equipment
PRC Plastic reinforced concrete
Q Rock mass quality
QRA Quantitative risk assessment
RMR Rock mass rating
SCMI Structures condition marking index (system used by Network Rail)
SCOSS Standing Committee on Structural Safety
SGI Spheroidal graphite iron
SNCOs Statutory nature conservation organisations
SPA Special protection area
SAC Special area for conservation
SACP Sacrificial anode cathodic protection
SBR Styrene-butadiene rubber
SNCO Statutory Nature Conservation Organisation

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 xxix

SSSI Site of special scientific interest
TMS Tunnel management system
TBM Tunnel boring machine
TMS Tunnel management system
UIC International Union of Railways
WLC Whole-life costing

1 Introduction and background

Humans have been excavating and constructing tunnels for thousands of years. In
Neolithic times (2000–4000 BC) tunnel excavations were made for purposes including
shelter, burial, defence and mineral extraction. Later, civilisations (particularly the
Babylonians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans) constructed, and occasionally lined, tunnels
for the transport of clean water and sewage waste. Technology remained basic and rates of
progress very slow for many centuries up to the invention of gunpowder and rudimentary
drilling machines in the 17th century. In the United Kingdom the Industrial Revolution
led to the rapid expansion of the canal system in the 18th century and then, in the 19th
century, the sewerage and rail systems, driving further advances in tunnelling technology.
This resulted in the construction of hundreds of miles of tunnels, many of which remain
an integral part of the UK’s transport and distribution infrastructure today. Over time, the
range of lining materials available has evolved from timber, masonry (stone and brick),
iron, reinforced concrete, to steel and sprayed concrete. Modern tunnelling technology,
including increased mechanisation and more sophisticated design and construction
techniques, has enabled successful construction of tunnels in increasingly technically
challenging environments.

The physical nature of the UK’s current and in-use infrastructure tunnels reflects a
complex mix of past needs, technologies, available materials and mechanical means, and
spans the period from those constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries, which have
already exceeded the normal life expectancy of modern structures, to recent 20th and
21st centuries tunnels. There are very few cases where it would be practical, economically
justifiable or socially acceptable to substantially replace these ageing assets. The capacity of
UK infrastructure and transport tunnels is largely fixed and finite with relatively little new
build, so the key challenges for infrastructure owners are to maintain assets efficiently and
to provide optimum availability and throughput, which requires careful management of
the existing tunnel stock. Gradual and progressive deterioration in service can be
overcome by a considered, coherent and planned maintenance, repair and upgrade
strategy. A rigorous asset management approach to tunnel assessment, maintenance and
repair is increasingly necessary to deliver optimum asset performance.

This guide promotes good practice in all aspects of tunnel assessment, maintenance and
repair, combining current thinking and technology, and providing coherent guidance.
Included in this guide is a selection of case studies from recent tunnel works, which give
real examples that will be useful for those responsible for tunnels.


This publication provides guidelines for the management, appraisal, maintenance and
repair of tunnels, and advice on issues such as conservation, health and safety, and the

The purpose of the guide is to:

 present good practice

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 1

 provide a guide for routine management
 recommend assessment, maintenance and repair strategies to give best value for
 help knowledge sharing
 identify gaps in knowledge.

This publication is principally concerned with the civil engineering aspects of tunnels with
a large enough section to allow routine man access, ie with an internal diameter of at least
1.75 m. However much of the information here may apply to tunnels of smaller diameter.

The types of tunnel linings under consideration are defined as primary support systems
by the British Tunnelling Society Tunnel lining design guide (BTS and ICE, 2004), as they
bear directly onto the ground. They may also constitute a permanent support system in
the case of one-pass lining types (where there is no extra lining). Due to the great diversity
of tunnel types, ages and construction methods, it has been necessary to limit the scope of
this guide primarily to those tunnels (and their shafts, adits and drainage) constructed in
the first half of the 20th century and before. These are:

 bored and cut-and-cover tunnels

 unlined tunnels
 masonry (brick and stone) lined tunnels
 metal lined tunnels (grey and spheroidal graphite cast iron and steel)
 pre-cast segmental concrete lined tunnels.

Certain types of tunnel have been excluded, although some of the information included
here may still be relevant to them, and certain aspects specifically relating to them are
dealt with in passing:

 in situ concrete lined tunnels

 sprayed concrete lined tunnels
 immersed tube tunnels
 jacked tunnels (eg pipe jacked tunnels used in trenchless technology, jacked box
linings etc).

Also excluded is:

 tunnel equipment and associated infrastructure (eg pumping systems, electrical and
communication systems, trackform and highway pavements) other than highlighting
situations where this is directly affected by or integral to a tunnel’s structural

This publication provides guidance on the asset management of tunnels. It is not intended
as a design guide for tunnel assessment or remedial works, although these areas are

This guide is intended for:

 clients who are infrastructure owners

 those responsible for the management and care of tunnel assets
 engineers responsible for assessing, maintaining and repairing tunnels.

The main UK tunnel owners are railway authorities, highway authorities, navigable
waterway authorities, local authorities and statutory service providers.


Topics of particular importance in the management of tunnels include:

 the need to consider many tunnels as having an indefinite service life ie their long-
term closure and complete replacement/reconstruction is unlikely to be feasible at any
time in the foreseeable future because they form indispensable elements of vital
 the need to investigate and evaluate the existing structure, its performance and
materials, taking into account issues such as complex structural behaviour and
interaction with adjacent ground, lack of design to modern codes, the presence of
defects and the original variability and in-service deterioration of materials
 consideration of changes in external factors ie urban development increasing ground
loading, changes in water table, increased live loading on shallow tunnels etc, and
possible change in use of the structure from that originally designed for
 the necessity of regular maintenance to ensure continued performance and
serviceability while minimising unnecessary repair expenditure, closures and traffic
 consideration of the effectiveness of repairs and alterations, and their likely influence
on the long-term performance, maintenance and whole-life cost of the structure
 the significant influence of tunnel performance on the performance and efficiency of
the infrastructure as a whole, and the resulting high impact of restrictions in use and
tunnel closure
 the particular difficulties associated with carrying out work in tunnel environments,
necessitating particular care in selection, design and planning so as to minimise
disruption to normal tunnel operation
 the particular access, safety and environmental issues, and their associated
requirements and management implications, in managing and maintaining tunnels.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 3

This guide is divided into seven sections, plus supporting appendices, each including
advice and guidance on particular aspects of tunnels.

Chapter 1 Introduction
General background information, scope and limitations, how to use this guide.

Chapter 2 Construction and behaviour

Basic principles of tunnels, their history, construction and materials, behaviour and performance.

Chapter 3 Asset management

Tunnel asset management, strategies and systems for condition appraisal and maintenance, and health
and safety and environmental considerations.

Chapter 4 Condition appraisal

Methodologies for tunnel inspection, investigation, monitoring and structural assessment.

Chapter 5 Selecting and carrying out works

Maintenance and repair techniques, selection and execution of works.

Chapter 6 Water ingress and control

Methods for the reduction and control of water ingress in tunnels where this causes problems.

Chapter 7 Summary of recommendations and future needs

Overall summary of recommendations, discussion of future research and development needs followed
by a list of references.

Table 1.1 Where to find information and guidance on specific topics

Where to find
General topic Specifically

History of tunnels 2.1.1

Understanding the history of Excavation and construction (general) 2.1.2
tunnels, how they were built and the Lining construction and materials Masonry – 2.3
materials used Metals – 2.4
Concrete – 2.5

Structural elements 2.1.2

Tunnel performance 2.6
The structural behaviour of tunnels Structural damage and deterioration 2.6.1
and causes and signs of loss of
performance and deterioration Materials deterioration 2.6.2
Effects of fire 2.6.3
Approach to structural assessment 4.9

History and construction 2.1, 2.2

Management aspects 3.2
Performance and behaviour 2.7
Tunnel shafts and adits Potential effect at ground surface 2.7.1
Location, inspection and investigation 4.7
Carrying out works 5.6
Finding hidden shafts Appendix A5

Tunnel management (general) 1.1

Ensuring tunnel serviceability Maintenance planning and strategies 3.4
through a maintenance and repair
programme Management concepts and tools 3.5
Decommissioning and managing closed tunnels 3.9

Condition assessment (general) 4

Finding and using existing information 4.2
Sources of existing information Appendix A2
Principles of visual inspection 4.3
Preparation for visual inspection 4.6
Inspection procedures and observations Appendix A3
Investigation and evaluation of Tunnel investigation 4.4
existing tunnel structure Monitoring 4.5
Investigation and monitoring techniques Appendix A4
Structural assessment of lined tunnels 4.9
Structural assessment techniques in detail Appendix A7
Influence of defects and deterioration 4.9.3
Investigation and assessment of unlined tunnels Appendix A6
Interpretation and reporting 4.10

Maintenance and repair (general) 5, 6

Selection, planning and preparation 5.1
Carrying out routine maintenance 5.3
The selection, design and execution Information on repairs and remedial techniques 5.4
of maintenance and repair methods Structural lining replacement and strengthening 5.5.1
Rock stabilisation in unlined tunnels 5.5.4
Treatment and filling of tunnel shafts 5.6
Dealing with water ingress 6

Planning works and controlling risk 5.1

Access requirements 5.6.1
Access, safety and environmental Health and safety management 3.6.1
issues Ensuring operational safety and fire safety 3.7
Competence and training of staff 3.6.2, 4.3.3
Environmental and ecological issues 3.6.4

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 5

2 Construction and behaviour


2.1.1 History

Originally excavated for mining near-surface natural resources, for shelter, burial
chambers or as part of defensive structures, the use of tunnels dates back many centuries
but for infrastructure purposes was not widespread until the Industrial Revolution of the
18th and 19th centuries in Europe. The development of different excavation and lining
techniques through time influences the form of tunnel deterioration present today.

The first unlined tunnels in the UK were constructed by Stone Age man around 2000 BC
to mine flints from chalk deposits in East Anglia. These tunnels were excavated through
weak rock using hand tools such as deer antlers. Early tunnel excavation through harder
rock relied upon the use of hammers and wedges or by fire quenching, where the tunnel
face was heated by fire and suddenly cooled by cold water causing the rock to shatter.

The earliest recorded infrastructure tunnel was a brick lined structure passing beneath the
Euphrates River in ancient Babylon. This was a cut-and-cover tunnel that relied on the
diversion of the river to allow construction of a brick arch structure in a trench, and later
backfilling before returning the river to its original course.

The Greeks and Romans constructed unlined or masonry-lined tunnels both for water
supply conduits and for highways. However, during the Middle Ages tunnelling was
predominantly restricted to military use and it was not until the 1600s that the use of
tunnels for infrastructure was renewed.

The advent of gunpowder and rudimentary drilling machines in the 17th century allowed
much faster excavation progress to be made, fed by the demands of a developing canal
system that reached a peak in the late 18th century. Tunnelling was further improved in
the mid 19th century with the development of dynamite and pneumatic drills to meet the
requirements of the expanding rail system. Tunnelling through soft ground during the
1800s was improved through the development of the tunnelling shield, invented by Marc
Brunel and further modified by Greathead (1895). The shield allowed ground to be
excavated while protecting the miners as a lining to support the tunnel was installed
behind an extension of the shield. Compressed air was first used at this time to control
water inflow. Later water control measures included ground freezing and grouting.

Over time, the lining material for tunnels has developed from timber, through brick and
masonry, and cast iron to reinforced concrete and steel. Each lining type has particular
characteristics that influence current condition, which will be explored in Chapters 3, 4
and 5 of this guide.

Recent tunnelling developments have included the use of more sophisticated explosives
and drilling methods in hard rock tunnelling coupled with sprayed concrete linings, while
increased mechanisation and development of tunnel boring machines (TBMs) has helped
both soft ground and hard rock excavation. Improvement in the understanding of ground
response through the development of soil and rock mechanics, including the founding of
elastic/plastic theory, has helped tunnel design progress throughout the 20th century.

A timeline for infrastructure tunnel developments is given in Table 2.1.

Table 2.1 Timeline of tunnel development

Ancient tunnels

Neolithic Excavation for shelter and mineral extraction

c2160 BC 1 km long brick lined pedestrian tunnel beneath the Euphrates, Babylon

c700 BC 200 m water supply tunnel, Jerusalem

c500 BC 1 km long water supply tunnel through limestone, Samos

c200 BC Construction of lined qanats for water supply, Middle East and China

36 BC First road tunnel – on Naples to Pozzuoli Roman route

Greek/Roman times Various water supply and drainage tunnels

Middle Ages Military tunnels

Industrial Revolution

c17th Development of navigational tunnels

1679 Gunpowder first used in infrastructure tunnel construction – Languedoc, France

Expansion of the canal system in the UK, involving the construction of tunnels typically with
structural brickwork arch linings

1811 Longest and deepest UK canal tunnel (Standedge) completed, Huddersfield, UK

1823 First UK road tunnel, constructed beneath Reigate Castle

1826-1829 First railway tunnel – Liverpool to Manchester, UK

Expansion of the rail system in the UK, involving the construction of many new tunnels. These
are typically with structural brickwork arch linings or unlined in areas of hard rock

1841 Completion of Marc Brunel’s Thames Tunnel using the first tunnelling shield

1858 Final UK canal tunnel completed – Netherton Tunnel

1863 Metropolitan Line (cut-and-cover) opens between Paddington and Farringdon Street, London

Dynamite invented, which together with development of pneumatic rock drills allowed faster

First cast iron segmentally lined tunnel excavated using the first circular shield, Tower Hill,

1871 First Alpine tunnel completed, Frejus, France

First use of compressed air to balance water pressure in soft ground tunnelling, Hudson River
Tunnel, USA

1880 First tunnel beneath English Channel attempted

1890 First deep tube tunnel opens between King William Street and Stockwell, London

1897 First UK sub-aqueous road tunnel, Blackwall, London

1904 First part of New York Subway opens, USA

Reinforced concrete and steel supersede brickwork and iron as the engineering materials of
choice for new tunnels and prompt the use of new structural forms

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 7

Table 2.1 Timeline of tunnel development (contd)

Modern developments

20th century Development of mechanised tunnelling methods

1936 First bolted reinforced concrete segments introduced

1940s Improvement of ground exploration techniques and understanding of ground response through
onwards development of soil and rock mechanics

1946 Rock mechanics first applied to steel arch support design (Terzaghi)

1950s Introduction of rock bolts and sprayed concrete linings

Coining of the term New Austrian Tunnelling Method (NATM) for tunnel support systems that allow a
high degree of convergence in initial linings to establish equilibrium before installation of a final lining

1970s Development of circular segmental tunnel lining design

1970s Development of TBM’s to include earth pressure balance and slurry types

Innovations such as fibre reinforcement, ground freezing, laser/infra-red survey techniques for
Late 20th
construction and assessment, settlement prediction techniques, finite element and difference
analysis, asset register management and fire protection design

1994 Channel Tunnel opens between UK and France

1999 Jubilee Line extension opens, London

2.1.2 Construction method

It is important to understand the method used to construct a tunnel as this is likely to be

significant when considering its performance or the possible modes of deterioration or
failure. For a thorough description of tunnel excavation and construction technology and
methods in the 19th century refer to Simms (1844) and Gripper (1879). A summary is
provided here.

The method of construction adopted was controlled principally by ground conditions

(geology and groundwater) but also influenced by location, length, contemporary
technology and economics. The excavation method and intended use will also have
influenced tunnel geometry. Typical profiles for lined UK rail tunnels are illustrated in
Figure 2.1. In most cases, unlined tunnels have been excavated to optimise the strength
and stability given by the geological structure so will be varied throughout the length of
the tunnel and may be square or even triangular in cross-section.

A large proportion of the UK’s tunnel infrastructure was built in the second half of the
19th century when the decision on whether to construct a tunnel or a cutting was typically
based on a consideration of the relative economic factors involved. For example, Gripper
(1879) stated: “when a cutting attains 70 feet in depth, it is generally advisable to
introduce a length of tunnel”. However, in certain situations tunnels were constructed at
shallow depths because of other factors such as lack of a suitable site for depositing spoil,
difficulties in obtaining suitable skilled workforce or necessary materials, or the influence
of the landowner.

Two construction techniques were used to build most rail tunnels:

1 Cut-and-cover (C&C).
2 Boring.

Shallow service tunnels for water and sewage systems, and the shallower parts of urban
metro systems, were frequently constructed by cut-and-cover methods, whereas canal and
rail tunnels were usually bored. However, the construction of any tunnel was rarely
uniform from one end to the other. The engineer reacted whenever necessary by
modifying construction methods, changing lining thickness, introducing drainage
channels or weep holes to manage the inflow of water around the lining, or using other
measures to enhance the short-term integrity of the structure. Many tunnels are hybrids,
with most of their length bored but portions at each portal constructed using cut-and-
cover techniques.

a Rectangular b Circular

c Straight sidewall, vaulted roof d As c, but with segmental/unlined


e Battered sidewall, vaulted roof f Semi-elliptical

Figure 2.1 Typical tunnel profiles for UK railways (Railtrack, 1996)

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 9

g Elliptical cut-and-cover h Parabolic

i Segmental (oval) j Shallow Gothic arch

k Tall Gothic arch

Figure 2.1 Typical tunnel profiles for UK railways (Railtrack, 1996) (contd) Cut-and-cover tunnels

The choice of C&C or boring was dependent on ground conditions, depth of overburden,
proximity of existing buildings and whether the land above the tunnel could be disturbed.
C&C typically involved excavating a large trench with the tunnel built as a box inside it.
Once complete, the top of the tunnel was covered with the excavated material (with
varying degrees of compaction) and the surface returned to use. For the London
underground railways, this would usually be a street. A typical section through a C&C
tunnel is given in Figure 2.2, although wall thickness would vary along a tunnel due to
variations in ground conditions.

Figure 2.2 Typical section through a C&C railway tunnel (Railtrack, 1996)

In particularly poor ground or adjacent to sensitive buildings, a concrete saddle was

sometimes pre-cast and buried between two lines of driven piles to allow excavation
beneath (see Figure 2.1g). Where ground conditions were favourable, such as in rock,
sidewalls could be left unlined. Loading on a C&C tunnel crown can be high as the
ground above is not self-supporting, and usually compounded by the added component of
live load. Bored tunnels

As the depth of overburden increased, or where disturbance at the ground surface was not
permissible, tunnel boring techniques were used. A typical cross-section of a bored rail
tunnel, with the principal components annotated, is given in Figure 2.3.

Figure 2.3 Typical cross-section of a bored railway tunnel (Railtrack, 1996)

The boring method usually consisted of sinking shafts or driving adits from the ground
surface at various points along the line of the tunnel and excavating out laterally from the

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 11

base until the tunnel was completed. This allowed simultaneous excavation on several
faces to speed construction. The construction shafts were either left open for ventilation or
often sealed and backfilled with spoil to create blind or hidden shafts (Section 2.2).

A very basic classification scheme was adopted by the Victorian engineers to characterise
the ground, as summarised in Table 2.2. This was used both in cost estimation and
support design.

Table 2.2 Classification of ground conditions in the 19th century

Term Description

Ground that was not self-supporting, where excessive pressures were imposed on the excavation,
Heavy ground
requiring considerable temporary and permanent support – typically deep tunnels.

Ground that was self-supporting and required little or no temporary support during the
Light ground
construction of the lining – typically shallow tunnels.

Gripper (1879) suggested that heavy ground could be expected at depths under 50 ft
unless tunnelling in a strong geological formation. However, this classification scheme
failed to take account of the huge range of possible ground conditions, and particularly
the effect of groundwater. This has led to a legacy of problems that continues to this day,
including many early tunnel failures some of which are described in the case studies in
Appendix A1. Table 2.3 provides a summary of the change in construction methods
adopted over time for Victorian UK rail tunnels (NR, 2004a).

Table 2.3 Change in construction methods over time

Year Construction method

Predominantly shaft sinking followed by horizontal excavation from the base. Shaft diameter was
kept to a minimum although many shafts were sunk.

A combination of pneumatic rock drills, blasting and hand labour was used. Fewer shafts required
and the diameter of some of the shafts was increased.

Compressed air machines used in the UK with air locks and shields. The number of shafts sunk
reduced and the diameter increased.

The age of the tunnel gives an indication of the likelihood and number of shafts, and the
probability of encountering problems that are associated with shafts. Over time, improved
excavation techniques were accompanied by improved design through greater
understanding of stress redistribution around underground openings. Tunnel profiles
developed from vertical sidewall, vaulted crowns and flat inverts to parabolic or elliptical
shapes (see Figure 2.1). Tunnels may have been constructed either with or without an
invert. Early tunnels generally bore onto the underlying ground through footings. The
lack of a structural invert frequently leads to problems, particularly where the drainage is

In canal tunnels tunnelling typically involved the excavation of a top heading between
shafts, with the roof supported by timbers in light ground. Once complete, the top-
heading provided a haulage route for spoil as the bench (second heading) was excavated
to the base level of the invert, as shown in Figure 2.4. A masonry lining would then be
constructed from the invert upwards. Canal tunnels were generally constructed to allow
the passage of one seven foot narrow boat at a time, but some longer tunnels on important
canals, for example, Blisworth tunnel on the Grand Union Canal (then the Grand
Junction Canal), were built wider to allow narrow boats to pass one another within the
tunnel. Typical cross-sections of wide and narrow canal tunnels are given in Figure 2.5.

Figure 2.4 Typical excavation sequence for canal tunnels (courtesy Jack Knight)

Figure 2.5 Typical cross-sections and dimensions of narrow and wide canal tunnels
(courtesy Jack Knight)

Around the time of the Industrial Revolution many bored rail tunnels were constructed
using the English method (see Figure 2.7) whereby an initial bottom haulage heading was
advanced ahead of the main tunnel. An upper heading was then constructed and the
crown supported. The top heading was first enlarged to the full tunnel width, followed by
the lower part to complete the full face. The lining was constructed from invert up,
supported by timber props. The gap between the outside of the lining and the ground was

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 13

then often filled by one of the methods shown in Figure 2.6. Where temporary support
was provided by timber crown or drawing bars (wooden logs indicated in Figure 2.6d),
complete infill was difficult as timbers were drawn forward leaving an unfilled void. The
amount of overbreak requiring to be filled was controlled by ground conditions and care
was taken with excavation. Typically, drill and blast tunnelling lead to greater overbreak
and larger voids behind the lining. Lining types are discussed in detail in Sections 2.3 to
2.5. Other methods adopted included the German system in which multiple box headings
were advanced before completion of the top arch and central section, and the timber-
intensive Austrian system that started with a robustly constructed central heading followed
by a crown heading and full face excavation (Muir Wood, 2000).

In light ground, where no lining was installed, rockfalls were common, exacerbated by
groundwater inflow loosening rock blocks surrounding the tunnel.

During the early industrial period, engineers often had very little or no information on
ground conditions and generally used a reactive approach to any problems encountered.
Some problems that affect these tunnels today are associated with this reactive approach,

 temporary timber supports built into the tunnel lining if removal would have caused
failure during construction (with time these weaken and rot with the potential to
create local instability)
 large annular voids due to overbreak
 variable construction methods, with combinations of cut-and-cover and bored
techniques to reduce costs or reflecting weaker ground at or near the tunnel portals
 poor packing of material to fill voids.

In light ground (typically rock) some tunnels were left unlined but were provided with a
structural portal to safeguard against weathering and unstable ground around the portal
area and to give the tunnel an aesthetically pleasing appearance from the outside.

a b

Figure 2.6
Typical annular infill
for lined tunnels
c d (Railtrack, 1996)

2.1.3 Excavation methods

The means by which ground was removed as the tunnel advanced has a significant
bearing on the current condition of the tunnel. Three excavation methods were used:

1 By hand (for soil or weak rock).

2 Drill and blast (for rock).
3 Mechanical excavation (for soil or rock).

Hand excavation
Hand excavation was widely used in the past for digging tunnels through soft ground or
weak rock. Early tunnels were dug using hand-held tools. More modern tunnels were
excavated using pneumatic clay spades. However, recent health and safety legislation
regarding hand-arm vibration problems (commonly known as white finger) has restricted
the use of this technique in recent years.

Figure 2.7 Hand-excavation and spoil removal from the top-heading of a tunnel, using the
English method of construction popular in the 19th century, showing temporary
timber supports. A completed bottom heading is also visible

Of all the excavation techniques, hand excavation causes the least disturbance to the
ground that remains in situ, and overbreak is minimised.

Drill and blast

Drill and blast has been in use for tunnel excavation through rock since the mid-1800s. It
is a cyclic process consisting of:

1 Drilling the face.

2 Charging the drill holes.
3 Firing the round.
4 Ventilating the excavation.
5 Scaling.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 15

6 Spoil removal.
7 Supporting the rock walls.

Blasting causes damage to the surrounding rock mass through several mechanisms (Hoek
and Brown, 1980). When an explosive contained in a borehole is detonated, the high
pressure gases generated impact the borehole walls, causing a high pressure wave to be
propagated outwards into the rock. The zone immediately surrounding the blast-hole is
crushed where the compressive strength of the rock is exceeded by the pressure wave.
Beyond this zone, there is a region of radial cracking, formed where the tangential stress
component of the stress field exceeds the tensile strength of the rock. The length of these
radial cracks dictates the extent of the disturbed zone caused by blasting and prescribes
the likely extent of problems in unlined tunnels today.

Records rarely detail the precise method of blasting for old tunnels, so the extent of
disturbance around a tunnel may require direct investigation.

Mechanical excavation
Mechanical methods of excavation involve the cutting of ground by discs, picks or drilling
bits. These tools are mounted on a variety of apparatus, including tunnel boring machines
(TBMs), roadheaders and mobile miners.

A tunnel boring machine cuts a circular tunnel by rotating a circular cutting head against
the ground. The cutting head is fitted with picks to cut soft ground or disc cutters to break
hard rock. The TBM moves forward by extending thrust rams, which may operate either
against the tunnel lining, the tunnel invert or a reaction ring that is secured to the rock by
thrust pads. Spoil is gathered up by arms or buckets on the cutting head that load a
conveyor belt running through the TBM. The conveyor belt can load rail cars, dump
trucks or another haulage conveyor. Variations of TBM include earth pressure balance
machines in which the face is supported by compressed air and slurry machines that mix
spoil with mud to assist removal.

Various researches have concluded that tunnels excavated by TBM show no structural
instability due to excavation disturbance, although rock damage may occur where shear
zones are crossed. One study has suggested that damage by drill and blast is five times that
caused by TBM excavation (Mott MacDonald, 1992).

The roadheader, first developed in the mid-20th century, is a tracked chassis on which is
mounted a pivoted cutting boom. The boom mounts a cutting head fitted with picks, discs
or tricones, which may rotate about, or transversely to, the axis of the boom. Spoil is
collected at the front of the roadheader and conveyed to the rear of the machine. A
roadheader can cut a variety of excavation profiles.

Recent experience of excavation by roadheader in chalk marls (A20 road tunnels) has
shown that the disturbed zone generally extends to two to three joint spacings from the
excavation wall. This is produced by the rock blocks at the face of the excavation being
jostled by the action of the picks.

Also falling within the definition of mechanical excavation is the use of a mechanical
excavator under the protection of a shield. This method will also have caused little
disturbance to the surrounding ground.

Excavation disturbance
Table 2.4 provides a summary of the likely degree of disturbance due to the excavation
method in different ground conditions.

Table 2.4 Degree of disturbance due to excavation method

Ground conditions Era Method Excavation disturbance

Ancient Hand tools, fire quenching Low

Hard rock, eg Moderate to high, depending on

Industrial Revolution Drill and blast
limestone, granite blasting method

Low to moderate for drill and

Modern Drill and blast, TBMs
blast, low for TBMs

Low to moderate depending on

Ancient Hand tools
rock structure

Low to moderate depending on

Weak rock, eg chalk Industrial Revolution Hand tools
rock structure

Mechanical excavation, eg road

Modern Low

Ancient Hand Low

Soft ground, eg Industrial Revolution Hand, shield Low

London Clay
Mechanical excavator, TBMs,
Modern Low

As a tunnel is excavated, the ground responds due to stress redistribution. The majority of
movement happens shortly after excavation, but movement continues over a period of
years. The behaviour of the ground depends on the ground conditions and the in situ
stress conditions. The principal processes that can cause disturbance to the ground
surrounding an excavation are:

 disturbance associated with the excavation technique

 disturbance associated with stress redistribution
 time-dependent degradation.

Each of these may influence the current condition of ageing infrastructure tunnels.

2.1.4 Stress redistribution

Stresses exist in undisturbed ground that result from the weight of the overlying strata
and its geological history. This stress field is disturbed by the creation of a tunnel. In soft
ground, the stresses try to close the opening and are resisted by lining the tunnel. In rock,
stresses high enough to exceed the strength of the rock may be induced, which could
cause failure unless support is installed. Determination of the stress field around an ageing
tunnel may be required to optimise the design solution for remedial measures where the
problem is stress related.

A typical pattern of stress redistribution around a circular tunnel is given in Figure 2.8,
indicating concentration of stresses close to the tunnel opening. For non-circular
openings, stresses will be concentrated at corners (see Figure 2.9). These locations
typically exhibit the worst deterioration in tunnel lining or loosening of rock surrounding
unlined tunnels.

Stress redistribution can also be influenced by horizontal components of in situ stress that
were present before the tunnel was constructed, skewing the stress distribution pattern. In
extreme cases, this can lead to rock bursting in sidewalls but this is unlikely to be seen in
infrastructure tunnels in the UK.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 17

Unlined tunnels can also suffer from the effects of long-term time dependant stress
change as exhibited in some water, sewerage and road tunnels (McQueen, 2005) or
through the action of swelling clays.

The stress field around an existing tunnel can be modelled using various computer-based
numerical methods including finite difference or finite element techniques, or boundary
element methods. These can be carried out in both two and three dimensions.

Figure 2.8 Stress redistribution around a circular tunnel (Hoek and Brown 1980)

Figure 2.9 Stress concentrations around a non-circular opening (Hoek and Brown 1980)

2.1.5 Ground failure mechanisms

Once an opening is created, the ground may fail by one or a combination of the
mechanisms summarised in Table 2.5.

Table 2.5 Ground failure mechanisms

Ground/structural Predominant consideration

Failure mechanism
conditions Construction Maintenance

Soft ground Squeezing and flowing ground, short stand up time. 

Soil Effective shear strength insufficient  
Invert failure in softer Lack of confinement and water ingress. Poor drainage
ground leading to softening  

Gravity falls of blocks from roof and sidewalls,

Blocky jointed rock controlled by geometry of excavation in relation to  
discontinuities in rock mass (Hoek and Brown 1980)

Few stability problems (where stresses surrounding

Massive rock excavation < approx 1/5 unconfined compressive 
strength of intact rock)

Excessive loading of rock pillars, eg between two

Pillar failure
adjacent running tunnels 

Progressive failure due to water ingress washing out.

Joint infill deterioration Discontinuity infilling reducing inter-block strength 
leading to loosening

Degradation of rock fabric due to chemical or

Weathering mechanical action of environmental influences such as 
temperature, water or wind

Long-term stress changes leading to rock or lining

Stress change
degradation or failure  

Extra loading from new construction of adjacent

External factors tunnels, building over the tunnel, piling, seismic events, 
terrorist attack, traffic loading on shallow tunnels

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 19

To prevent such ground failure and reduce maintenance, support is installed during
construction or may be enhanced later if conditions change. The type of support falls into
three categories:

1 Temporary support – installed at the tunnel face to prevent immediate collapse.

2 Primary support – to provide long-term stability to the tunnel.
3 Secondary or functional support – installed if the final use of the tunnel requires a
particular surface.

The following sections describe the various continuous support types typically installed in
infrastructure tunnels.

2.1.6 Temporary support

Early unlined tunnels were supported locally using timber props and beams. More recent
unlined tunnels use methods that provide both temporary and primary (long-term)

 spot rock bolts to hold individually identified rock blocks or wedges

 pattern bolting
 bolting with rockfall protection mesh
 sprayed concrete.

In soft ground extensive temporary timber propping was used to maintain the opening
before a final lining was installed. The form of the timber support was complex and varied
(Gripper, 1879). A typical layout is given in Figure 2.10.

Figure 2.10 Temporary support formwork and replacement with a multi-ring brickwork lining

2.1.7 Primary and secondary linings

Where long-term stand-up time (the length of time an underground opening will stand
unsupported after excavation) is insufficient, primary and sometimes secondary tunnel
linings are installed. These have several functions:

 structural support of the adjacent ground

 protection of the internal space of the tunnel from water ingress and falling debris
 protection of the adjacent ground as a result of deterioration from the effects of
exposure to the air, the passage of vehicles, water flow etc
 to provide a regular intrados profile that defines a consistent internal space in the
tunnel and can be used to attach cables and other services
 in rock tunnels secondary linings were used for a variety of purposes including
protection, improvements in aesthetics, lighting and ease of cleaning, ventilation

In unlined tunnels, the primary structural support is provided by methods such as rock-
bolting where a lining is not required for other purposes.

Ground types in which tunnel linings were used include:

 self-supporting ground where the lining was conceived as non-structural and not
carrying any load at the time of construction, although loading may have occurred
 broken ground requiring a structural lining capable of resisting ground pressure
 soft cohesive material, such as clay, requiring linings to support significant earth
 non-cohesive material, such as gravel or sand, which caused the greatest difficulty in
tunnelling and required strong fully structural linings to support full overburden
 wet ground in situations where water ingress could be a potential problem.

By the middle of the 19th century, tunnels in sound rock were considered simple work
(Gripper, 1879) but much greater difficulties were faced when tunnelling in unstable
ground, requiring temporary support and the construction of a structural lining. The
influence of ground conditions and disturbance of overlying ground was recognised, and
an important distinction was made between tunnelling in light or heavy ground. The
easier conditions were encountered in light ground, where the depth of the tunnel crown
below the ground surface was relatively great and the ground self-supporting, so that it
did not slump back to rest upon the temporary supports and lining as it was constructed.
In contrast heavy ground was typically encountered where the tunnel crown was relatively
shallow and disturbance from the tunnelling work caused the full load to come upon the
temporary supports (“with a depth from the surface to the tunnel top of 50 feet (15 m) or
less, heavy ground may be looked for, unless the geological formation is a strong one”,
Gripper, 1879). In heavy ground tunnel construction required special measures including
greater temporary support from frequent large timbers (used up to 2 feet and 6 inches
(0.76 m) in diameter) and a thickened lining (exceptionally up to 4 feet (1.2 m) thickness
of brick masonry). Also, the influence of geological features such as faults, joints and joint
orientation, joint fillings and swelling clays were understood and known to present special
difficulties for tunnelling.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 21

The conditions at the tunnel extrados can vary significantly. This is related to the type of
ground through which the tunnel was driven and to the construction methods employed.
The possible scenarios are:

 voids left between the lining extrados and the ground. The depth of these voids
generally increases towards the crown
 voids between the extrados and the ground fully or partially filled with rubble infill,
fallen rock or timber left during construction. In some brick lined tunnels there can
also be brickwork piers (sleeper walls) between the extrados and the ground, as shown
in Figure 2.4
 solid contact between the ground and the lining. This situation could be achieved in
the original construction, by positioning the lining directly against the ground or by
tight backfilling of any voids. The situation can be reached as a result of movements of
the ground after the construction of the lining.

Three principal primary lining types are identified in this guide, based on their material

1 Masonry linings (including brick and stone).

2 Metal linings (including cast iron and steel).
3 Pre-cast concrete linings.

These are discussed in Sections 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5 respectively.


In the 19th century, hand-excavation of tunnels required the construction of several
vertical shafts at intervals along the tunnel’s horizontal alignment (and sometimes also
adits at other orientations) to allow excavation to proceed from many working faces, and
for disposal of spoil and ventilation. Once complete, some shafts were left open for
ventilation, while others were infilled and/or capped off to avoid the burden of
maintaining them. However, all shafts both open and closed (whether backfilled or not)
present a maintenance liability today, as described in Section 2.7.

2.2.1 Shaft construction techniques

Early shafts were sunk using a method known as steining in which an oak or elm
hardwood diaphragm ring was used as a base for the construction of the shaft lining, so
that the ring and the lining sank as the soil was excavated from beneath. Any voids behind
the lining were packed as work progressed. The steining method sometimes incorporated
a type of shaft shield called a barrel, this ensured safe excavation without the threat of the
shaft walls collapsing inwards. The sides of these barrels were designed to allow it to sink
gradually. Plumb-bobs were used to ensure the shaft maintained its verticality.

Another popular method was to construct the shafts in lengths (see Figure 2.11). A depth
of shaft was excavated and a diaphragm oak or elm ring placed at the bottom. A
brickwork shaft lining was then constructed. Once the length was complete, the next
length was excavated leaving a bench of earth beneath the diaphragm ring. Sections of the
earth bench were removed and props inserted to support the shaft lining above. The
remainder of the bench was then removed and another diaphragm ring positioned. The
next section of lining was then built between the props, which were either removed or
built into the shaft lining if they were too difficult to remove. The lengths of the shaft were
constructed with the lining keyed into the surrounding ground, and the annular void

packed tightly with dry earth. In an attempt to waterproof a shaft, clay plugs were
installed through water bearing horizons or a clay backing was rammed behind the lining.
It was considered important to obtain a bond between the shaft and the ground to lessen
the weight on the tunnel lining through to the shaft eye.

Some construction shafts were relatively short in depth and were excavated without
permanent linings, but with the sides of the shaft shuttered with lagging boards and
waling to safeguard against debris falling.

2.2.2 Shaft eyes

Shaft eyes were constructed using brickwork, concrete, cast iron or stonework with
complex temporary support, as shown in Figure 2.12, and with the final appearance as
shown in Figure 2.13. The load passing through the shaft eye into the tunnel lining is
difficult to assess. The skin friction afforded by the shaft lining and the extent to which the
shaft is keyed into the earth is very difficult to calculate, so if available, contemporary
records can provide valuable information. Ingress of water through the shaft and/or the
absence of a drainage system serve to reduce skin friction and material integrity. The shaft
eye is under vertical load from the shaft and also circumferential load from the tunnel
arch ring, resulting in a wedging action that serves to stiffen the eye. The shaft eye may be
subject to shear failure.

Figure 2.11 Typical railway tunnel shaft construction details (Railtrack, 1996)

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 23

Figure 2.12
Temporary support detail at shaft eye

Figure 2.13 Typical rail tunnel shaft eye construction details (Railtrack, 1996)

2.2.3 Closed shafts (blind shafts)

Open tunnel shafts will always remain a maintenance liability and should be examined in
the same way as any other component of the tunnel. Some shafts required only for
construction were closed when the tunnel was completed, although such construction
shafts were often left open to provide extra ventilation. As such, they rarely appear on
design drawings. With the passing of the steam age, the need to ventilate tunnels has been
reduced and, in a bid to reduce maintenance costs and to stabilise shafts, some of these
have now been filled in. The possible current states of shafts are illustrated in Figure 2.14.

Type: 1 2 3 4 5

Figure 2.14 Possible states of construction and ventilation shafts (Network Rail, 2004b)

1 Open shafts (see Figure 2.14, Type 1) are those that were left open for ventilation
2 Blind shafts (see Figure 2.14, Types 2 and 3) are temporary construction shafts that
have been sealed or capped so that they are discernible from within the tunnel, at the
ground surface or both.
3 Hidden shafts (see Figure 2.14, Types 4 and 5) are temporary construction shafts that
have been sealed or capped so that their location is not visually discernible.

Loosely packed spoil or brick rubble was used to fill redundant shafts following the
completion of the tunnels. In more recent times a variety of materials have been used that
stabilise a shaft, but do not impose excessive load on the tunnel roof at the base of the
shaft. The latter is strengthened before the filling operation. Reinforced concrete saddles
have been used for this purpose. Further details of shaft capping and filling techniques
are included in Section 5.6.

Figure 2.15 Examples of open and closed shafts in a brick-lined tunnel. The closed shaft, on the right, has
been capped off just above the eye so is easily visible, but this is often not the case

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 25

Shafts were often part-filled with an arched support some distance from the top of the
shaft or, wherever the engineer judged adequate support could be gained, such as at the
level where the rock head was encountered. Determining the status of a shaft is difficult if
adequate records were not kept or are no longer available. If a shaft is infilled completely,
the tunnel lining directly beneath the shaft should be examined very closely for signs of
distress, especially following a prolonged spell of wet weather, which may have the effect of
increasing the overburden pressure on the lining. Some shaft caps were constructed using
timber decking, and the condition of old timber structures varies significantly.

Knowledge of closed shafts associated with a tunnel is extremely important but finding
them can prove challenging, even with contemporaneous construction records. Once
infilled, a shaft was rarely recorded by the engineer. Examples of amended construction
drawings are also rare. Moreover, few edits were made detailing the (then) new status of
filled shafts and over the years many of the records that were amended were stored
improperly with many being lost altogether. The records that do exist, such as
construction drawings and site notes, indicate the whereabouts of the shafts and how they
have been infilled. The method engineers often used to monitor progress was to write on
the construction drawings, along the line of the tunnel, dates when excavation reached a
certain point so that on completion of the tunnel there was a series of dates plotting its
progress from start to finish.

Multiple headings were driven to speed up the excavation and reduce long construction
periods. Sometimes additional shafts were sunk, which were not recorded on construction
drawings. Progress dates written on the construction drawings often give the appearance
that headings were being excavated away from a point underground without a shaft being
sunk for access. Other indications of the presence of a hidden shaft are marker stones or
mounds of rubble on the ground above the tunnel. Circular wet patches on the crown of
the tunnel are not uncommon and may give an indication to the presence of a blind shaft.
However, there are certain patterns and features pointing to blind shafts. In capping the
shaft and supporting the shaft eye the support timbering, called sills, were often propped
off the tunnel lining at haunch level. After the sills were removed, filling in and sealing the
holes left by the timber beams proved to be difficult. Careful scrutiny of the lining at such
locations may show a row of small wet patches where the sill beams were located.
Furthermore, the bond of the brickwork is often irregular where the sill holes were
plugged up. The lining thicknesses beneath capped and open shafts will usually be thicker
than elsewhere within the tunnel, but only over a short length of tunnel.

Techniques for locating hidden shafts are addressed in Appendix A5.


Masonry, both brick and stone, was the predominant material used in the construction of
tunnel linings for the rapid development of the canal, rail and sewerage systems in the
19th century. The majority of these tunnel linings were of brick. However stone masonry
was often used regionally where stone supplies were readily available (typically in Scotland,
parts of Wales and the south-west of England), and some linings are hybrids of stone and
brick masonry. Wherever possible the material excavated during tunnel construction was
used to produce the lining material on-site. Clay spoil was used to produce bricks while
sands and possibly lime were used for the production of mortar. Where bands of rock
were encountered they could be cut to shape and used to line other parts of the tunnel,
reducing the requirement for more labour-intensive brick and mortar production.

Linings constructed from stone masonry were typically of ashlar, consisting of a single ring
of relatively large and heavy, regularly cut and shaped stone blocks with thin mortar

joints. Their size and weight made individual blocks difficult to handle and place,
particularly in the higher parts of the tunnel arch, and so hybrid tunnels, with thick stone
sidewalls supporting brickwork arches, were sometimes constructed.

In most parts of the UK the lack of easily-won stone and the relative availability of the raw
materials for brick-making meant that brickwork was the material of choice for lining
construction. Brickwork also had the advantage of comprising small, easily transported
and handled regular units that were suited to the construction of arches in confined
spaces and did not have to be cut to shape according to their position in the arch.
However, to achieve the necessary lining thickness typically required construction of
several skins of brick in sidewalls and arches with multiple rings, and a relatively large
supply of mortar because the proportion of mortar in brickwork is generally much higher
than in good quality ashlar stonework.

2.3.1 Lining profile, thickness and quality

Masonry linings are typically built as arches. As with masonry arch bridges, the lack of
structural knowledge or understanding of soil or rock mechanics resulted in an empirical
approach to masonry arch tunnel design. A variety of cross-sectional profiles were
adopted, but earlier tunnels tended to have straight, vertical sidewalls supporting an arch.
This profile is typically found in early canal tunnels (see Figure 2.5) and rail tunnels where
it was a more efficient profile to accommodate trains without unnecessary excavation.
Later construction frequently adopted curved sidewalls to achieve a more structurally
efficient ovoid transverse profile. In rail tunnels a horseshoe shape (see Figure 2.16) was
frequently adopted, whereas in sewerage systems a circular or egg shaped profile was
common. Lining thickness was determined by simple rules of thumb, dependent on the
type of ground (light ground being self-supporting and heavy ground not) and past
experience based on trial and error.

Figure 2.16 Rail tunnel (Clifton Hall tunnel) with multi-ring masonry lining and structural invert

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 27

Figure 2.16 shows an original drawing of a 19th century rail tunnel with multi-ring
masonry lining and structural invert supporting a central drain. Note the bonding pattern
between the rings, the all header bond in the arch and invert brickwork, and the brick
piers in the backfilled void above the crown extrados connecting the arch with the
ground. Also note that the sidewalls, footings, invert and most of the arch use Lias mortar
(a natural cement) whereas the crown has been constructed using cement (an early
Portland-type), which would have been stronger and less tolerant of movement, but more
expensive so used sparingly. In old multi-ring tunnel linings the presence and nature of
connections between arch rings is highly variable, sometimes even within the same tunnel,
and may have a significant influence on structural behaviour. The pattern of bonding
shown in Figure 2.16 is unusual (compared with a more commonly used pattern shown in
Figure 2.17) and may have been a contributory factor in the catastrophic collapse of this
tunnel in 1953 (see Case study A1.18, Section 18.2).

Brickwork linings in heavy ground might comprise six rings of brick, although they could
be significantly thicker where difficult conditions were encountered. Fewer rings were
used for construction in better ground, with linings of four rings in thickness being
common. Non-structural linings could be constructed as thin as two rings. The excavation
methods employed resulted in some irregularity in the ground profile and, just as it was
not easy to avoid overbreak, underbreak was also common and would be accommodated
by a local reduction in lining thickness. The possible ring thickness of a given tunnel can
be assessed using contemporary engineering guides such as Molesworth’s Pocket book of
engineering formulae (Molesworth, 1862).

2.3.2 Lining construction

After excavation, masonry linings were built up from foundation level using wooden
falsework (centerings) to form the arch. Excavation and construction proceeded in lengths
that were often about four yards (3.7 m) in good ground, although they could be less than
2 yards (1.8 m) in poor ground. In each length the arch was built so that the extrados
profile was below the thick longitudinal timber bars supporting the roof of the excavation,
so that between the lining extrados and the excavated ground profile there was a
relatively large space containing timbers and empty voids. At the completion of each
length, these longitudinal bars were drawn forward, sliding them forward to support the
heading for the next length of construction. Because it was understood that voids between
the arch extrados and the ground were undesirable (“it should be an invariable rule never
to leave a vacuity behind the work”, Simms, 1844), the void space was packed solid with
clay, broken bricks or other material. Another common practice consisted of building
sleeper walls (small masonry pillars) off the extrados to support the ground on the lining
(visible in Figure 2.16).

Figures 2.10 and 2.16 show common profiles through a masonry-lined tunnel with the
space between the lining crown and the ground filled with brickwork piers and rubble
packing. The large longitudinal timbers often used could, despite the efforts of tunnellers,
sometimes become wedged in place and could not be withdrawn so had to be left in
position (eventually rotting to form voids with loss of support to the ground). It was not
uncommon for improperly supervised workers to leave the area between the lining
extrados and the ground unfilled or not packed tight.

Considering the particularly difficult conditions of construction, workmanship of masonry

tunnel linings is often surprisingly good. However, instances of poor workmanship and
variations in construction are known to occur. This can mean irregular thickness and/or
shape, inadequate brick mortar bond or complete lack of mortar and temporary elements
such as timbers left to rot within the lining. Behind the visible intrados there was always
the temptation for poorly supervised contractors and labourers to cut corners, for instance

by laying bricks dry (without mortar) or even by constructing fewer brick rings than
required. Many of these features have the potential to affect the tunnel’s performance and
structural capacity but are not directly visible at the intrados, making them difficult to

2.3.3 Inverts and drainage

An example of a tunnel with a structural masonry invert and drainage culvert is shown in
Figure 2.16. The presence (or absence) of an invert is an important influence on the
behaviour of the masonry-lined tunnel. While in light ground tunnel linings typically
rested on stepped footings, tunnels in heavy ground were typically constructed with a
structural invert to stiffen the lining and provide restraint to settlement and movement of
the sidewalls and arch. This also provided a sound ground surface on which to place
ballast or construct a roadway, dependent on the tunnel’s intended use. In road or rail
tunnels, which it was necessary to keep dry, central culverts were often included for
drainage to one of the portals. Unfortunately, maintenance has often been neglected and
drains have frequently become silted up or been damaged by other maintenance
operations such as tamping of ballast. Flooding is a problem in some rail tunnels because
of the adverse effect on tunnel equipment and the softening of the trackbed leading to
pumping and deflection of rail level and alignment. Furthermore, excessive water can
lead to softening of the invert and loss of support to the tunnel side walls resulting in
structural defects in the lining.

2.3.4 Brickwork bonds

Several types of masonry bonds are possible, particularly in multi-ring arches where it is
necessary to deal with the difference in radius of individual brick rings. This requires the
bedding joints between adjacent rings to be offset, or kept parallel with varied joint
thickness. Examples of different bonding methods for multi-ring arches are shown in
Figures 2.16 and 2.17.

Typically tunnels consist of English bond throughout (known as single ring work) or
English bond up to springing level only with running bond (all bricks laid as stretchers,
bonded by headers where made possible by the coincidence of courses in adjacent rings)
in the arch above. The advantage of using running bond in the arch is that the mortar
joints remain regular and relatively thin throughout the arch barrel’s thickness. If English
bond is used the mortar joints need to become thicker toward the extrados, resulting in a
high proportion of mortar to brick in the rear rings of a lining, which may be six rings or
more thick. Because mortar (and particularly the lime-based mortar used in many tunnels
in the 19th century) is weaker and less resistant to deterioration than brick, it was
recognised by some engineers, that such construction might be less durable, particularly
where the ground was wet. They also recognised that the lower modulus of the mortar-
rich outer rings might allow them to yield more under load, resulting in stress being
concentrated in the stiffer intrados ring. However, some engineers still advocated the use
of English bond because they considered regular bonding between brick rings was
necessary to ensure that the arch acted in a structurally composite manner. Frequently the
method of masonry arch bonding is similar for tunnels constructed for the same owner,
due to particular policies being adopted.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 29


Many other methods have been used and often headers have been added wherever the brick courses
in adjacent rings have coincided, or they may be completely absent so that there is no connection
between rings in the arch

Figure 2.17 An example of one method of brickwork bonding for masonry arches
(courtesy Jack Knight)

2.3.5 Construction joints in brickwork

Each constructed length of lining was keyed into the alternating offset toothings of the
courses in the preceding length. Because slight settlement frequently occurred between
the construction of one length and the next, or due to slight differences in the level of the
initial course of brick, joints between lengths were often slightly irregular. They can often
be seen at the intrados as slight distortions in the bedding planes and irregularities in the
mortar thickness, forming vaguely discernible linear features regularly spaced along the
tunnel circumference (see Figures 2.18 and 2.19). Where difficulties were encountered in
tunnelling, such as an area of weak and unstable ground or water ingress, the construction
lengths were often reduced to two yards or even less. The lining might be thickened to
provide more structural stability, and/or an invert added for rigidity and resist
convergence of the tunnel walls. Joint spacings, particularly changes in spacing, can
provide important clues to the hidden structure of the tunnel, changes in ground
conditions behind the lining and even the location of hidden shafts.

More detail on the significance of construction joints and their use in interpreting ground
conditions and other features of a tunnel’s construction are given in Section A4.1.4.

2.3.6 Masonry materials

The response of masonry to loads is influenced by the way in which the materials have
been used in its construction, their original physical characteristics and any later changes,
including deterioration. Differences can also be expected between masonry elements with
different joint widths (proportions of mortar) or incorporating mortars of different
strength and compressibility.

Figure 2.18 A construction joint picked out by its shadow using low-angle lighting

a b

Figure 2.19 Two views of construction joints: clearly visible joint where dog-toothing is
absent (a) and joint is more difficult to spot, but is marked by subtle irregularity
of brickwork and slightly wider vertically aligned joints (b) Mortar

The functions of mortar in masonry are:

 to provide an even contact surface between the masonry units (brick or stone) and to
promote even load transfer between them, avoiding excessive local stresses that might
otherwise develop at points of contact
 to physically bind the masonry units together as part of the masonry fabric and
allowing it to function as a composite material, ie by influencing its important physical
characteristics such as compressive strength and modulus of elasticity (the use of weak
and flexible lime-based mortars conferred upon masonry arches some degree of
articulation and allowed them to respond plastically to stresses)

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 31

 to provide a preferential pathway for the movement of moisture through a masonry
structure, allowing it to breathe, and to act as a sacrificial component where
deterioration would be concentrated, rather than in the masonry units themselves.

In stone masonry of well-cut ashlar, blocks typically rest directly on one another or on a
very thin bed of mortar, which was probably used as much as a lubricant during
construction as for any other reason. In such construction, the behaviour of the masonry
is principally dependent on the properties of the stone. Where stone was less well-dressed,
thicker mortar beds were required to provide a uniform bearing surface, and the mortar
becomes an important influence on masonry behaviour. Likewise, mortar characteristics
become more significant to the structural behaviour of the masonry where it is present in
high proportions, eg in rubble masonry and mortared rubble fills. Similarly, in brickwork,
strength and other aspects of structural behaviour will be influenced to some degree by
the physical characteristics of mortar, depending on the thickness of mortar beds.

In thin mortar beds between well-dressed stone, mortar is likely to be in a state of triaxial
compression, where its strength is less significant. Conversely, in thicker and less even
beds, such as those between uncoursed stone, mortar is more likely to be subject to non-
uniform stresses and there is a greater potential for compression, with the potential for
load transfer directly between masonry units.

Lime mortars
Traditionally, masonry mortars were produced using lime cements, the lime (calcium
carbonate, CaCO3) typically being derived from natural limestone, including chalk. The
characteristics of the lime mortars were dependent on the nature of the raw materials used,
the presence of any impurities or additions, and the process of production, particularly the
firing conditions in the kiln. Lime cements can exhibit different properties:

 pure limes (also known as fat limes) are produced from pure limestone or similar
materials. They are non-hydraulic cements that harden slowly by reaction with
atmospheric carbon dioxide only, known as carbonation or air-setting
 hydraulic limes are those which do not rely entirely on reaction with atmospheric
carbon dioxide to set, but also have some element of hydraulicity, ie set by chemical
reaction with water. This can result from the inclusion of clay impurities in the
limestone raw material or from the direct addition of hydraulic material to it, which
affect a setting action when mixed with water.

Mortars based on pure and hydraulic limes can exhibit significant variability in their
characteristics, principally related to their degree of hydraulicity. At one extreme, a very
pure lime that relies entirely on air-setting produces a mortar that strengthens and cures
very gradually over long periods, but remains relatively weak and plastic, typically with a
crumbly texture like a dry crumbly biscuit. At the other extreme, a mortar based on a
strongly hydraulic lime sets and achieves a higher strength much more rapidly in the
presence of adequate moisture.

Hydraulic limes, natural cement and Roman cement

Many of the lime mortars used in the past have been produced from limestone with some
degree of clay impurity, which naturally imparted a degree of hydraulicity to the mortar
without any further processing. As the degree of hydraulicity of the lime increases, its
characteristics become less like those of pure lime and more similar to those of a Portland-
type cement, ie exhibiting more rapid set, greater strength and brittleness and lower
permeability. Traditionally, hydraulic limes were classified as eminently hydraulic,
moderately hydraulic and feebly hydraulic. Natural cements could be produced by
burning certain clayey-limestone at moderate temperatures to produce something that

had some of the properties of Portland-type cements. They were sometimes called and
marketed (misleadingly) as Roman cement and could be used to produce a relatively
strong, dense and impermeable mortar, commonly used for construction and repair in the
19th century (notably including Brunel’s Thames Tunnel). The ability of natural cement
to set hard quickly in wet conditions and resist the action of water (when compared to
more weakly hydraulic limes) meant that it was particularly in demand for the
construction of tunnels. However its relatively high cost compared with lime mortar
meant that in brickwork linings it was sometimes specified for use in the extrados rings
only, or to provide cement covering to the rear of the extrados (Simms, 1844).

Modern cements and gauging of mortar

Another method of introducing an element of hydraulicity to a lime mortar is by adding
hydraulic material to the mix. Since the late 19th century this has meant the addition of
Portland-type cements, which rely entirely on chemical reaction with water to set, so are
fully hydraulic cements. These were included in mortar mixes in an attempt to overcome
the potential disadvantages of traditional lime mortars, ie that their weakness did not suit
them to use in the newly developing thinner-walled masonry designs, and that they can
take a very long time to cure and harden, especially in wet conditions when susceptible to
damage from water and frost. However, mortars based only on cement and sand at an
optimal ratio of 1:3 are too harsh and difficult to work with, and produce a mortar that is
too strong and inflexible for most applications, so the cement was instead added to lime
and sand mixes to impart hydraulicity to the set by a process know as gauging (the
proportioning of materials by volume). Such cement:lime:sand mixes are the most
commonly used today for general purpose masonry.

Before the 20th century and the prevalence of modern cements, lime mortars were
commonly gauged with other hydraulic materials known as pozzolans. The most popular
of these were types of volcanic ash imported from the continent (for example, Trass or
Tarras from Belgium). However brick dust was more cheaply and readily available and
could provide an element of hydraulicity to mortar mixes. Brick dust was commonly used
and has been found in the mortar of some 19th century tunnels.

Table 2.6 gives mix proportions for mortars and indicative ranges for their compressive
strengths, and also values for the compressive strength of the masonry produced using
different brick strengths (assuming standard brick dimensions).

Table 2.6 Mortar mixes and compressive strengths used in the UK, and corresponding strengths of
masonry using different bricks (from Sowden, 1990)

Type of mortar (by volume) Brick strength (N/mm²)

Mortar strength 7 20 35 50b 70c
Masonry Cement:
designationa Cement: range
cement: sand+ Characteristic compressive strength
lime:sand (N/mm²)
sand plasticiser of brickwork (N/mm²)

(i) 1:0–0.25:3 – 11–16 3.5 7.5 11 15 19

(ii) 1:0.5:4.5 1:2.5–3.5 1:3–4 4.5–6.5 3.5 6.5 9.5 12 15

(iii) 1:1:5–6 1:4-5 1:5–6 2.5–3.6 3.5 6 8.5 11 13

(iv) 1:2:8–9 1:5.5-6.5 1:7–8 1–1.5 3 5 7 9 11

(v) 1:3:10–12 1:6.5-7 1:8 0.5–1 2 4 6 7.5 8.5

(vi) 0:1:2–3d – – 0.5–1 2 4 6 7.5 8.5

(vii) 0:1:2–3e – – 0.5–1 2 3 3.5 4.5 5

c Class A engineering brick
a From BS 5628–1 (BSI, 1992) d Hydraulic lime
b Class B engineering brick e Pure lime

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 33

Both English Heritage <> and The Scottish Lime
Centre <> can provide information and support on the use of
lime cements. Sources of lime materials are listed in the Teutonico (1997). Further
information on lime cements, aggregates and mortars is available in Ashurst and Ashurst
(1988), Ashurst (1997), Allen et al (2003) and Ellis (2002). Stone

Stone is a term applied to construction material quarried from a natural rock resource. It
is one of the oldest building materials known to man, and since the earliest times of
civilisation has been the preferred material for the construction of permanent and
important buildings. As well as its aesthetic appeal, the most notable feature of stone is its
potential for exceptional durability. However, the stone used in tunnel linings was often a
by-product of excavation rather than a material selected specifically for its durability.
Some existing tunnels have problems with stone deterioration either because of original
poor selection and use, subsequent implementation of inappropriate repairs, or because
deterioration has been hastened by the harsh conditions of the tunnel environment.

A wide range of rock types have been used as building stone (see Table 2.7) but in the UK
the most commonly used were the sedimentary rocks limestone and sandstone, and, in
some areas (particularly the north and west of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland),
igneous rocks such as granite. A description of the range of rock and stone types available
and their geological and engineering characteristics is beyond the scope of this document,
which is limited to a brief discussion of some of the principal factors affecting their
principal characteristics, selection and performance in service. For detailed information
see Smith (1999).

Table 2.7 Comparison of typical strength and density values of some common UK building stones
with other construction materials (after Geological Society, 1999)

Typical compressive strength

Masonry unit material Typical density (kg/m³)

Stokeground Bath – base bed 22.5 2126

Stokeground Bath – top bed 13.8 1988

Portland Roach 52 2100

Portland Whitbed 36 2200

Welsh Blue Pennant 158 2630–2850

Clipsham limestone 32 1826

Woodkirk Yorkstone 54 2400

Granites 100–350 2500–3200

Concrete (typical) 40 2240

Bricks (typical commons) 20 1800

Bricks (engineering class A) 70 Up to 2800 Brick

Clay bricks are produced by firing natural clay at high temperatures until the clay
minerals melt and fuse to form a combination of vitreous and new mineral phases. The
composition and characteristics of the fired brick depend on the original composition of

the clay, and the temperature and duration of the firing process. Brick colour depends on
the raw clay materials used in their manufacture, and can be influenced by the addition of
other minerals and pigments.

Traditionally, clay known to be suitable for brickmaking was dug from the ground and
weathered for some time to dry it, before being mixed and hand-thrown into individual
moulds. The earliest firings were done by heaping the bricks and fuel together and
covering with turf, but simple kilns followed – a single clamp of a brick arch covered with
turf being one of the earliest, followed by round brick kilns. The enormous demand for
bricks by the middle of the 19th century led to the development of the first brickmaking
machines, and kiln design was constantly being improved to increase efficiency.

The enormous quantity of bricks required for the construction of masonry tunnel linings
of any significant length or thickness meant that brickmaking was usually carried out on-
site, wherever possible using the raw materials excavated from the tunnel, and where
necessary improved by blending it with more suitable material from the locality. When
introduced during the brickmaking process, the raw materials can be diverse in
composition and condition, so the quality of the bricks within a single structure,
particularly large structures like tunnels, can vary. For instance, bricks that were fired in
the centre of the clamp were subject to burning and baking at high temperatures, tending
to be better quality. In contrast, bricks from the outer part of the clamp were often poorly
fired, weaker and less durable. The fired bricks were graded according to their quality so
that they could be used appropriately, the best being reserved for facing work at the
tunnel intrados. If they were not re-fired, poorer quality bricks were frequently used in
rings behind the facing or as random rubble or fill.

Beyond their original variability, the process of ageing and deterioration of bricks in the
frequently harsh environment of tunnels is another factor that has influenced the current
condition and physical characteristics of their masonry.

Table 2.8 Properties of some old bricks used in bridge and tunnel construction (Railtrack, 1996)

Manufacture Compressive Elastic modulus

Source Description
date strength (kN/m²) (kN/mm²)

Sugar Loaf Tunnel (north Large regular handmade

1850–1900 34.1 6.2
of Llandovery) red brick

Large regular handmade

Alfreton Tunnel 1850–1890 55.2 9.1
blue brick

Long thin distorted

Watford Tunnel 1840–1850 22.9 3.9
handmade red brick

Bridge 251 near Small rough handmade

1852 26.3 8.7
Grantham red brick

Bridge 31 near Small rough handmade

1840–1850 19.6 1.5
Windermere red brick

Regular handmade red

Bridge 49 near Wing 1850–1900 28.8 6.8

Bridge 65 on Preston to Large handmade red

1850–1910 25.6 9.4
Lancaster Line brick

Small rough handmade

Harringworth Viaduct 1840–1850 17.9 12.9
blue brick


The cross-sectional area for a small brick is 210 mm² and for a large brick 250–300 mm²

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 35

Table 2.8 shows the results of tests carried out to discern the principal physical properties
of bricks from a variety of railway structures (bridges and tunnels) over the period
1840–1910, showing the range of variability in compressive strength and particularly in
the elastic modulus.

Research conducted by British Rail (Temple and Kennedy, 1989) involved an extensive
testing programme to determine the compressive strength and elastic properties of
brickwork from masonry structures of different ages (mostly between 1840 and 1910)
from across the UK, and applied statistical techniques to draw general conclusions that
could be used for tunnel assessments. The results, which are summarised in Table 2.9,
illustrate the considerable difference in strength and modulus of old blue bricks
(engineering bricks) and old red or yellow bricks (probably various non-engineering class
bricks eg stock bricks and gault bricks) used in these structures. It was also noted that
individual bricks from the same sample often showed considerable variability in their
physical characteristics. It should be emphasised that the results given in the table are
typical values only and that there are many different types of brick with differing
properties to those quoted.

Table 2.9 Statistical analysis of properties of brick samples from old railway structures (Temple and
Kennedy, 1989)

Characteristic strength Modulus of elasticity

Poisson’s Ratio
(N/mm²) a (kN/mm²)

Red and yellow bricks 16.5 5.2 0.11

Blue bricks 70b 15.6 0.16


a Value exceeded by 90 per cent of bricks tested in a large sample.

b Value is suggested, based on typical results from a small sample size.

Further information on the historic production of bricks and their characteristics is

discussed in Hammond (1981).

2.3.7 Structural behaviour of masonry

Masonry is unable to resist tension stresses or bending. So in masonry structures, loads are
resisted only by compressive axial stresses. Masonry structures are geometrical elements
that resist actions only when they can include, within their geometry, a thrust line in
equilibrium with the external loads. In general, from a structural point of view, of the
three conditions any structure has to verify – strength, stiffness and stability – in masonry
structures stability (static equilibrium) is the most relevant, although serviceability
requirements should also be satisfied.

As a result of their inability to resist bending forces, masonry structures under loading will
deform and crack unless they can resist those loads through a path of compression
internal forces. In consequence, cracking is quite common in masonry structures and
should not be automatically associated with structural distress. Also, the durability of
masonry is not as severely affected by cracking as, for example, reinforced concrete, and
in many cases the plasticity of most historical lime mortars will allow those cracks to be
gradually sealed in a process known as autogenous healing, involving the precipitation of
lime dissolved in pore-water.

As a composite material, the stress state of masonry, even under simple loading conditions
is quite complex. As a result of this, under compression, masonry fails by developing
indirect tension cracks in the units, parallel to the direction of load.

For further discussion, see Hendry (1998).

A detailed consideration of the structural behaviour of masonry is beyond the scope of this
document. For further information and guidance, refer to McKibbins et al (2006) and for
the derivation of masonry properties for structural assessment, to Hendry (1990). For line
of thrust clarification, reference should be made to Heyman (1982).


2.4.1 Cast iron

Cast iron has been used since the end of the 18th century for permanent linings to shafts
(in 1795 grey iron was used as tubbings in circles for a shaft lining at Walker Colliery on
Tyneside) but it was not until 1869 that it was first used as a permanent lining in a tunnel –
for Tower Subway under the Thames, which is still in use today.

Cast iron segments were assembled into a ring under the protection of a shield, which
temporarily supported the ground as tunnelling advanced. As the shield advanced, the
ground closed around the lining putting the ring into compression, fully supporting the
tunnel. In stiff clays where stand-up time allowed, the ring could be built directly against
the ground rather than within the shield. The joints between segments were sometimes
caulked, typically using lead or a fibrous caulking material.

Cast iron was mainly used from the late 19th century for medium to large diameter road
and rail tunnels constructed in soft ground. The first deep tunnels to use a bolted cast
iron lining were the City and South London Railway opened in 1890 (see Greathead,
1895 for a contemporary account) and the Waterloo and City Railway (1898). Up to the
1940s, cast iron was specified for all deep tunnels for London Underground. With the
demands for raw materials for re-armament ahead of WWII, the subsequent increase in
cost of bolted cast iron, coupled with technical advances in other lining forms, led to the
introduction of concrete linings. However, escalators, station tunnels, concourses etc and
underground railways in water bearing ground still used bolted cast iron.

The result is that the majority of London Underground’s 300 km of deep level tunnels are
cast iron lined. They were constructed with 11 feet 8.25 inches (3.6 m) or 12 feet 6 inches
(3.8 m) running tunnels, and 21 feet 2.5 inches (6.4 m) platform tunnels. The running
tunnel linings typically consist of six segments plus a key at the crown, with three bolt
holes in each 18 inches (457 mm) long radial flange and eight or nine bolt-hole in the
circumferential flanges. While the radial bolts are usually in place, a recent assessment
indicated that up to half the circumferential bolts tend to be missing in some areas (Tube
Lines 2005, unpublished).

Two types of cast iron have been used in tunnel lining segments: grey iron (with free flake
graphite) and spheroidal graphite iron. Grey iron was widely used in soft ground tunnels
until spheroidal iron was developed in the 1960s, and which, with its higher tensile
strength, allowed thinner, wider sections to be designed. However, grey iron continued to
be used in some stiff cohesive ground tunnels, such as on London Underground’s Victoria
line and even the Jubilee line (Fleet line) constructed in the 1970s. All circular road
tunnels under rivers used grey cast iron tunnel linings up to the mid-1960s. Examples
include the Blackwall road tunnel under River Thames (1892–1897), the Mersey
Queensway Tunnel under River Mersey (1925–1934) and the Rotherhithe Tunnel under
the Thames (1904–1908, see Figure 2.20). A contemporary account of the construction of
the Blackwall Tunnel is provided in Hay and Fitzmaurice (1897).

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 37

Figure 2.20 Original drawings from Rotherhithe Tunnel (1908) with bolted grey cast iron sections

Early linings were generally cast in low quality grey iron with a new design for each
tunnel. Two types were typically used: heavy lining for water-bearing ground and light
section for London Clay. From the 1930s a grading system was introduced, a higher grade
is indicative of increased tensile strength (for further information on iron grading, see BS
1452:1990). Grade 10 or 12 iron (minimum tensile strengths 150 N/mm² and 180 N/mm²
respectively) was generally specified although occasionally higher grades were adopted.
Typical drawing details for a bolted grey iron lining from a London Underground tunnel
are given in Figure 2.21.

Figure 2.21 Typical construction and joint details for a London Underground bolted grey iron lining

Expanded (articulated) grey cast iron linings were developed between 1949 and the 1950s
– these were unbolted. A short experimental length was driven in 1958 followed by a 1.9
km length for the LTE Victoria Line in 1960–1961. The lining was designed to be
interchangeable with bolted grey cast iron linings and had six segments per ring and with
a flange depth half the thickness of the bolted lining. The small flange gave a relatively
narrow width for locating the shoes of the shield rams, which made these linings
susceptible to construction and handling damage. There was a saving in weight and cost,
but the main advantage was speed of lining erection and the rate of tunnel advance.

Spheroidal graphite (SGI) bolted cast iron linings have been used in the UK only since the
late 1960s. First experimental use of this lining was a pilot tunnel constructed in June
1968 for an enlargement of a crossover tunnel on the Victoria line extension to Brixton.
By the early 1970s, use of SGI was not economical for small to medium sized tunnels
(below 5 m to 6 m) compared with bolted grey cast iron. However, for larger tunnels the
saving in weight offset the large increase in cost of the material over the grey cast iron
linings. SGI linings continue to be used, most recently on parts of the Jubilee Line

Behaviour of cast iron linings

A recent survey of LU cast iron lined tunnels (unpublished, Tube Lines, 2005) found that
typical visible defects included:

 corrosion and rust effects

 cracks, fractures and broken flanges
 delamination of the lining segments.
 water, silt or sand ingress (Figure 2.22)
 missing jointing/caulking material
 movement/displacement of segments
 open joints
 loose and missing bolts/grommets including grout plugs.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 39

However, the frequency of such defects is low and the effect on the overall integrity of the
lining is minor.

Figure 2.22 Bolted cast iron lining with water seepage at joint (courtesy Tube Lines)

Research is in progress on the current behaviour of cast iron tunnel linings found in the
London Underground system. London Underground Engineering Standard E3322
allows a basic analysis using the linear elastic continuum model of Muir Wood (1975), as
modified by Curtis (1976). As this is a conservative solution, structural modelling has been
undertaken using 3D finite element programs that analyse stress distribution under
loading and model the behaviour of joints and cracks.

The analysis has shown the following (unpublished, Tube Lines, 2005):

 the ground load acting on the back of the lining causes a convex deflection to occur to
the inside of the pan, in turn causing the circle flanges to splay outwards slightly (this
is possible because of the deep caulking groove on the circle flanges, see Figure 2.21)
 the stresses between joints are transmitted through the solid contact between pan to
pan and circle flange to circle flange. The radial flanges do not transmit compression,
and are slightly in tension relative to each other, because of the effect of circle flange
distortion causing a similar consistent distortion of the radial flange
 the convex deflection of the pan has the effect of attracting tangential stresses to the
centre of the pan. Stresses in the pan at the connection with the circle flanges are
much lower than in the centre
 there is evidence from the model that at 40 m depth the radial joints open a little.
Tangential tensile stresses at the crown and invert in the circle flanges also appear to
exceed the allowable values locally, as stresses are concentrated at these points.
Vertical deflection at the crown is about 13 mm (0.68 per cent).
 maximum tangential compressive stresses can be seen around axis level, inside the

An example of finite element modelling of a cracked lining is shown in Figure 2.23, with
the results given in Table 2.10.

Table 2.10 Example results of finite element modelling of cracked cast iron lining, as shown in Figure
2.23. This suggests that the presence of cracks has only minor influence on tunnel

Deflections Stresses
Crown/invert Maximum Minimum (max
Axis (mm)
(mm) (tension) (MPa) compression) (MPa)

Uncracked -13.3 8.2 140 -114

Vertical crack -11.1 14.4 118 -154

Horizontal crack -13.4 8.4 111 -104

Figure 2.23 Example of a 3D FE model of a cast iron lining incorporating

a vertical crack in the sidewall, shown in white (courtesy Tube lines)

2.4.2 Steel

Steel linings have rarely been used in infrastructure tunnels in the UK due to their high
cost. Typically, they have been used for short lengths of tunnel through particularly
adverse ground conditions or for complex openings or transitional sections. Bolted steel
tunnel linings were used for the Dungeness Power Station cooling water tunnels and a few
other projects in the USA and Europe. Expanded steel tunnel linings were used at Oxford
Circus and King’s Cross stations where tunnelling was close to other structures.


2.5.1 Lining forms

First used in the US in East Boston in 1892, pre-cast concrete linings were introduced in
the UK in 1903 but were not extensively used until the 1930s. The first standard lining
designs were available from the late 1940s.

Four types of pre-cast concrete lining have been used:

1 Bolted (or dowelled) – suitable for most ground conditions.

2 Expanded flexible – principally used in small diameter tunnels through London Clay.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 41

3 Smoothbore grouted – first introduced in 1903 but only available as standard lining in
late 1950s, generally used in soft ground or weak rock.
4 Expanded grouted – used in all ground conditions in modern tunnels.

To prevent water ingress, each type can be used with backfill grouting around the lining
annulus and with or without gaskets between segments. The principal lining forms are
described in the following sections. Bolted pre-cast concrete lining

This type of lining was similar in form to the bolted cast iron linings used extensively on
the London Underground system and could be used interchangeably with them. It was
first used during the construction of extensions to London Underground’s Central line in
1937 as a result of a shortage of raw materials for cast iron. Its main features included
concrete stiffeners to help take shield ram forces and a reduction of the number of bolts
around the circumferential joint from 52 (cast iron) to 31.

While used in air raid shelters beneath London in WWII, the use of bolted pre-cast linings
increased considerably after the war, especially in sewer tunnel construction. Standard
lining designs were available for use in all ground conditions. Where a smooth internal
bore was required, as for a sewer or water tunnel, an internal or secondary lining was
used. These were originally brick or cast in situ concrete or a combination.

In the UK, standard bolted rings were generally 2 feet (0.61 m) wide although widths up
to 2.6 feet (0.76 m) have been used. A typical bolted pre-cast concrete lining arrangement
is shown in Figure 2.24.

Figure 2.24
Typical bolted pre-cast concrete lining
(courtesy TRRL)

42 Expanded concrete linings

In the 1940s, it was recognised that bolting of the longitudinal joint of the pre-cast
concrete linings took little bending moment and that bolting of the circumferential joints
was only required to aid erection or, through water bearing ground, to ensure water
tightness. So linings were developed in which the segments were joined only by guides
such as dowels or grooves on the joint surfaces. The lining was expanded against the
ground by either driving a wedge shaped segment into the ring or jacking the ring tight
and backfilling the resulting gap. The use of an expanded lining requires an accurate
tunnel profile although back grouting can be carried out to ensure continuous
ground/lining contact.

The first expanded concrete lining used in the UK was the Don-Seg lining for the
experimental tunnel for the Metropolitan Water Board Thames-Lee Valley scheme
(1950–1951). Expanded linings were first used on medium sized tunnels on the London
Underground experimental length of the running tunnel for the Victoria line in 1961.
Later designs for the Victoria line included the Halcrow lining and the Mott Hay and
Anderson lining (1963). The lining type was also used on the British Rail tunnel at Potters
Bar, in 1955. Details of the lining for this latter project are shown in Figure 2.25.

Figure 2.25 Section through Potters Bar tunnel expanded pre-cast concrete lining (after Muir Wood, 2000)

2.5.2 Casting methods and reinforcement

The pre-cast concrete segments are cast in moulds, and variations in quality of these can
have an impact on the tolerance of the segment dimensions. Out of tolerance segments
lead to imperfect rings and stress concentrations can lead to spalling where there is
uneven contact between segments.

Steel reinforcement may be included in concrete segments to:

 increase section resistance to tensile and bending stresses during handling and
 withstand permanent ground loading.

Poor reinforcement placement in the moulds resulting in insufficient cover depth of

concrete can lead to the spalling defects often seen in such segments today.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 43

This section considers the causes of loss of tunnel performance. Tunnel performance is
affected by the condition and performance of the structure and the chosen construction
materials. The following sections describe typical issues found in ageing tunnels, divided
into structural and material problems. Particular problems associated with shafts and the
effects of fire on tunnels are dealt with separately in Sections 2.7 and 2.6.3.

2.6.1 Structural deterioration

A failure of a structure can:

 lead to injury or loss of life

 disrupt traffic flow, which may have detrimental economic effects
 cause frustration for users and associated parties/neighbours
 damage service and infrastructure furniture that may be housed within the structure,
or cause damage to adjacent services and neighbouring properties
 necessitate costly and disruptive remedial/replacement works.

The following factors contribute towards structural instability:

 lack of invert or its inadequacy to resist heave or swelling of the tunnel floor
 ill-advised alteration works, eg lowering invert, making additional openings,
inadequate repairs, badly specified repair work using unsympathetic techniques or
incompatible materials
 abrasion and scour in canal and water tunnels
 impact from vehicular traffic
 damage through accident, vandalism or terrorism
 defects that were built-in at time of construction (for example, cracking of pre-cast
segments due to handling damage of tunnel lining components or from over thrust
from tunnel shields, degradation of gaskets due to poor material choice)
 changes in ground loading (for example, by increased loading due to development
above the tunnel or change of in situ stress regime, eg through cliff regression,
unloading of near surface tunnels due to excavations at surface, influence of mining
related ground movement) or changes in internal loading
 change in the function of the tunnel leading to changes in environment and internal
 reduction in effective thickness of structural elements, eg tunnel lining from
weathering, corrosion, spalling or erosion due to the flow of water
 concentrated loading at joints

A variety of groundwater issues including:

 settlement induced by softening beneath sidewall footings as a result of excess of water

(naturally or as a result of drainage failure)
 increase in loading due to swelling of clays and marls
 attack by aggressive groundwater
 loss of shear strength on rock joints and bedding planes, which can result in load
being transferred onto the lining in blocky ground

 reduction of lining confinement through dissolution of limestone or outwash of fines
causing voids
 where there is no invert, saturation of the tunnel floor resulting in inadequate
resistance to possible inward movement of side walls
 the introduction of more efficient drainage or drying of the lining as part of a
remedial solution resulting in changes in water flow inducing surface settlement and
possible structural problems at the surface.

Structural failure may develop if defects or degradation of tunnel components are not
addressed, as in the case of water ingress through joints or cracks in the lining leading to
excessive corrosion and ultimate failure. Cracking of a lining may be present as the result
of non-structural defects such as those due to careless handling of lining components
during construction, but may also be a precursor to structural failure, eg due to altered
ground loading.

One key visible sign of structural distress is lining distortion (Railtrack, 1996) of which
there have been many examples. Distortions or bulges can reduce the clearance in a
tunnel considerably and in extreme cases can lead to either inadequate clearances for
traffic, or a localised collapse.

The main cause of distortion results from pressure from the surrounding ground acting
on the lining. Ground movements can be caused by numerous factors and can manifest
themselves in many different ways. Behavioural characteristics of ground vary
tremendously, according to soil or rock type. Rock movements can occur due to
movement along discontinuities such as faults, shear zones and joints in any plane or
orientation. In granular soils, the shear strength of the ground is low. Tunnels excavated
through this type of ground are susceptible to considerable loading. Also, there is the
possibility that load distribution will change due to the porous nature of the soil and the
through flow of water causing erosion and undermining of the lining. Where there is a
gap between lining and ground, increased loading on the lining may be caused by
accumulation of debris from ground movements or by point loads from rock movement.
Clays and fine grained soils are also likely to load tunnel linings. Furthermore, some clays
or soft rocks such as shale and mud rocks, when exposed to air and water, or a reduction
in confining pressure, are susceptible to expansion causing pressure to be exerted on the
lining extrados.

The effect of ground pressure is worsened by some tunnel construction details, such as
poor packing of the lining at the time of construction resulting in a lack of support. This
packing was intended to spread the load evenly across the lining. However, if poorly
executed, or not carried out at all, it causes the pressure to be applied as point loading.

An inconsistent tunnel profile can indicate bulging, which may be a response to changes in
ground loading or structural weakening (see Figure 2.26). Not all bulges are problematic
though - some will have existed for some time, possibly dating back to construction and
the earliest years of the tunnel’s life. During construction, the removal of the formwork
could have resulted in movement of the lining due to the process of loading the lining and
also due to the lining not having achieved design strength. A result of this movement is an
undulating lining surface, which has the appearance of one that is bulged. A lining that
deformed 100 years ago can be a threat to the structural integrity of the tunnel, but rarely
is. Live distortions occur alongside other features such as cracks or open joints, loose or
spalled brickwork.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 45

Ground conditions can change due to many factors such as an excess of groundwater or a
geological fault. The structural condition of a lining, in terms of its stress distribution, will
also change as a result. These changes manifest themselves in terms of crushing, cracking,
heaving, bulging and shearing. Such problems are worsened by poor quality lining
material or a lining that has been poorly constructed.

Cracking occurs due to tensile bending, shear and tension within the lining. An example
of tensile bending would be the cracks that appear in the middle of a bulged area. Shear
cracks are a result of differential loading or settlement and appear as a lip or step in the
lining. Tension cracks usually appear in the horizontal plane due to settlement.

Crack types and patterns help to identify the mode of failure of a tunnel lining. Vertical
pressure can result in cracks appearing in the crown, sometimes coupled with crushing
(compression) at the mid-haunch level (see Figure 2.26a). Lateral pressure results in
tension cracks in the sidewalls and haunches with crushing in the crown (see Figures 2.26b
and 2.26c). Details of the annular support conditions help to establish the significance of
the deformation and lining damage. Figure 2.26d shows a local deformation with both
faults arising due to lateral earth pressure. Figure 2.26e shows a total profile distortion.
Where annular support conditions are favourable, the lining can retain its overall shape.
Poor annular support may result in serious profile distortion and where ground pressures
are very large, serious deformation is unavoidable although lining deterioration can be
mitigated by improving annular support.

Where tunnels have been constructed through expansive soils, such as clays, and no invert
has been provided, the soil may expand upwards into the tunnel lifting the formation
(Figure 2.26f). Where an invert has been constructed, rising formation level is indicative of
invert failure. As well as swelling of the underlying strata, other possible causes are
excessive water pressure, mining subsidence and excessive lateral forces on the side walls.

In tunnels built through soft ground where adequate foundations or an invert have not
been provided, the tunnel lining is susceptible to subsidence. The formation level will
often not change but will rise in relation to the sinking tunnel arch resulting in reduced
clearances. In rail tunnels, this can cause particular problems with overhead

Such deformations could lead to structural failure if the change in condition is sudden
and no advanced warning given. So it is important to investigate the principal cause of any
defect that becomes apparent through any form of inspection, be it cursory or as part of
an inspection regime that may be implemented as part of long-term maintenance

a b

c d

e f

Figure 2.26 Typical forms of lining deformation in brick-lined tunnels (Railtrack, 1996)

2.6.2 Materials deterioration

Tunnel performance can be influenced by changes in the properties of its structural

materials, ie weathering and corrosion due to external or internal tunnel conditions such
as water ingress or chemical attack. This section considers the principal factors that can
cause such deterioration. Masonry linings

The deterioration of stone, brick and mortar is a complex and wide-ranging topic, and
can only be briefly summarised here. It is worth considering that the majority of
deterioration is related either directly or indirectly to the presence of water and the
chemical contaminants it often contains. This highlights the importance of taking
measures to keep masonry dry, and where this is not possible to allow it to dry and drain
freely. Further information is provided in CIRIA C656 (McKibbins et al, 2006) and
Sowden (1990).

Contributory mechanisms for deterioration of masonry in all types of structures are

summarised in Table 2.11.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 47

Table 2.11 Summary of causes of masonry deterioration

Deterioration mechanism Consequences

Where masonry is persistently wet and exposed to repeated freeze-thaw cycles,

this can cause spalling of masonry units and mortar loss from joints. It is most
Freeze-thaw cycling
likely in masonry at or near to portals or open shafts, which are likely to be
subject to a greater number of freeze-thaw cycles (see Figure 2.27).

Transport and precipitation of salts can cause softening, crumbling, flaking,

Physical salt weathering
blistering and laminar spalling of mortar and masonry units.

This is generally an expansive reaction between sulfates (present in

groundwater, soil and rock) and components of the cement matrix of mortar
Sulfate attack
causing its deterioration into a flaky, crumbly non-structural material. Sulfate
attack may also affect bricks and some types of stone with similar results.

The mortar’s calcium hydroxide and calcium carbonate components are

particularly vulnerable to attack by acidic water, and their loss creates
secondary porosity that can weaken materials and in turn aggravates the
Leaching and corrosive attack
effects of other agents like freeze-thaw. In anaerobic conditions, particularly in
tunnels carrying sewage, corrosive hydrogen sulphide may be produced.
Leaching may result in staining and whitish deposits on masonry surfaces.

Tree roots can cause serious damage to the structural fabric of the tunnel even
tens of metres below the ground surface. Other plants can disrupt masonry at
portals. Smaller organisms that may be found in damp areas of the tunnel
Biological attack
fabric can cause deterioration by increasing porosity and facilitating leaching,
and by other mechanisms. The microbial anaerobic conditions can lead to low
pH resulting in attack of grout, concrete and metal.

The use of overly-hard mortar can lead to masonry units losing their faces and
edges. The use of overly-hard masonry units in repairs can damage adjacent
original fabric. Use of impermeable materials can increase saturation and
Repair with unsympathetic materials
redirect moisture into other components or parts of the structure, accelerating
their deterioration. Corrosion of ferrous elements can cause spalling of
adjacent masonry.

Expansion and contraction (thermal, This can result in internal fracture of the units and spalling, and loss of mortar
and wetting and drying cycles) from the joints.

Units are vulnerable to environmental agents that cause deterioration. The

nature and extent of the saturation is a function of the type and amount of
Moisture saturation porosity. Movement of moisture can result in washout of fines from particulate
materials, eg from the ground behind the lining, causing weakening and

The development of additional stress or change in stress distribution due to

Ground movements ground movement can lead to cracking or loosening of masonry units, which in
extreme cases can lead to loss of structural integrity of the lining.

Cyclic loading such as from repeated passage of vehicles or trains principally

affects the invert of tunnel structures, unless they are near-surface. There is
little information available on the effects of this action and fatigue exhibited by
Cyclic loading and fatigue effects
masonry linings, but research carried out by Cardiff University of Cardiff
(Roberts et al, 2006) indicates that this does occur and could potentially be of
structural significance.

Figure 2.27 Deep spalling of soft red brick near to a tunnel portal caused by freeze-thaw damage

Figure 2.28 Collapse of part of masonry lining at the waterline in a canal tunnel due to a combination of
deteriorative mechanisms (moisture saturation and leaching, salt weathering and freeze-thaw) Metal linings

Cast iron may corrode, although from experience gained on the London Underground
system in general there is little evidence of deterioration of cast iron linings, as evidenced
by linings removed from various locations and by coring carried out as part of tunnel
assessment projects. This is partly because of the natural corrosion resistance of cast iron
and partly because of the benign conditions inside the tunnels and the grout-protected
environment against the clay on the extrados. One notable exception is at a location south
of Old Street on the Northern line (City branch), which is described in detail in Case study

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 49

Where deterioration occurs, it may take many forms, as summarised in Table 2.12.

Table 2.12 Summary of causes of metal deterioration

Deterioration mechanism Details

This is a form of corrosion peculiar to cast iron. The corrodible elements of its
microstructure are leached out of the surface leaving a soft, spongy, skeleton of
Graphitisation corrosion
graphite and other corrosion resistant constituents. There may be no visible sign of
this type of corrosion having occurred but the element will be weakened.

This may be due to impact damage, overloading, presence of casting defects, thermal
Cracking shock, etc or at weld repairs. Cracking could also indicate possible problems resulting
from exposure to fire or changed ground loading.

Holing may occur when current flows through paths other than the intended circuits
Stray current corrosion resulting in protection where the current enters the metal structure and potentially
high rates of local metal loss where it leaves.

Bacterial activity can adversely affect the structure of the lining material, both
anaerobic, as can occur in compacted clay soils (typically by the action of sulfate
Microbially induced corrosion reducing bacteria) and/or in aerobic conditions (typically by sulphur oxidising bacteria).
On cast iron, graphitisation occurs, the iron being converted to its sulfide, leaving a
matrix of low mechanical strength.

Corrosion of metals is an electrochemical process with an anode reaction where metal is

oxidised, corresponding to an equal cathode reaction where typically oxygen is reduced.
In aerobic conditions trivalent iron is precipitated as iron hydroxide, which binds with soil
particles to form a crust on the metal surface. In well-aerated oxygen-rich soil the initial
rate of corrosion is high but slows as the iron hydroxide crust forms and limits oxygen
supply, although microbially-induced corrosion can continue due to the action of sulfate-
reducing bacteria. In the anaerobic conditions of waterlogged soil, the corrosion rate is
initially lower due to reduced oxygen supply but the rate is not reduced by formation of
corrosion products.

Factors affecting the susceptibility of metal linings to corrosion include:

Soil aggressivity
This is controlled by soil porosity, drainage and ground water constituents. The likely rate
of corrosion may be assessed by measuring:

 soil resistivity, which is indicative of the soil’s moisture content and soluble salt
 redox potential, which is indicative (together with sulfate levels) of the soil’s
susceptibility to support anaerobic bacterial corrosion
 dissolved salts (eg soluble sulfate and chloride) in the groundwater
 pH of soil and groundwater
 the type and concentration of any aggressive contaminant in the surrounding soil or

Of the range of soil types peat is potentially the most corrosive soil followed by clay. The
acidity of peat comes from the degradation of the organic material that produces humic
acids. In such conditions hydrogen evolution can replace oxygen reduction as the cathode
reaction, with dissolved metal ions forming complexes with the humic acid. Soils with the
potential to cause severe corrosion problems are those with good electric conductivity,
such as clay. Good conductivity allows the anodic process on a small spot to correspond to
a cathodic process on a large area, causing a rapid and concentrated attack. Measuring the
soil resistivity is a way to estimate the corrosivity of the soil. Waterlogged soils are
potentially more corrosive than dry soils.

Macro-corrosion cells
Typically these occur when a metallic element runs through two different soil types
creating differential oxygen conditions. For example, if one part of a tunnel lining is in
contact with well aerated soil and another with poorly aerated soil, oxygen reduced at the
well-aerated area can cause corrosion of the part in the poorly aerated soil.

Calcium carbonate protection

Precipitation of a natural calcium carbonate coating or scale from the groundwater on the
surface of a metallic lining can protect against corrosion by the groundwater. The
tendency for a water to be scaling or not can be determined by water analysis and
calculation of its Langellier index.

Internal tunnel conditions

Water leakage, high humidity, poor ventilation, presence of acidic gases (eg sulfur dioxide)
and any aggressive deposits on the tunnel surfaces exacerbate deterioration on the
intrados of the tunnel. Surface deposits can build-up through mechanisms such as
fluctuations in ground water level, which continuously replenish aggressive agents. The
presence of a coating either organic (eg application of bituminous paint layer) or inorganic
(eg grout layer in contact with the outer surface of the lining) will also affect deterioration.

Figure 2.29 shows an example of corrosion due to water flowing down the inside of a shaft
while the results of sulphuric acid attack resulting from microbial action are shown in
Figure 2.30.

Figure 2.29 Corroded cast iron lining in Aldwych shaft (courtesy Tube Lines) Deterioration of concrete linings

The most common deterioration problems found in pre-cast concrete lined tunnels are:

Cracking and spalling

Cracking and/or spalling (as shown in Figure 2.31) is frequently the result of construction
damage due to either poor segment casting or installation. It can also be the result of
changed loading conditions and deterioration in service (see the following sub-sections on
Reinforcement corrosion and Tunnel fires).

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 51

Figure 2.30 Acid attack of tunnel lining at Bond Street, London Underground (courtesy Tube Lines)

Reinforcement corrosion
In the alkaline environment of freshly-cast concrete, steel reinforcement remains in a
passive state and is protected from corrosion. However, where chloride ions are present or
the alkalinity of concrete is reduced by carbonation, depassivation may occur and, where
adequate moisture and oxygen are available, corrosion can proceed. Corrosion of the
reinforcing steel produces hydrous ferrous oxides of greater volume than the original
steel, generating expansive forces resulting in cracking and spalling of the concrete cover,
steel bar wastage and loss of bond between the steel and concrete.

Carbonation involves the reaction of atmospheric carbon dioxide with phases of the
cement matrix, and progressively penetrates the concrete from its outer surfaces, reducing
its alkalinity. It does not occur in very wet or very dry conditions, and in good quality
dense concrete its progress is slow and it may take many decades to reach reinforcement
where it is protected by an adequate depth of cover. However in conditions with the right
level of humidity where concrete is highly permeable (eg weak, porous or honeycombed),
or where the cover depth to reinforcement is low, it can also cause problems much sooner.

Chloride ions can either be cast into the concrete (normally through contamination of
ingredients such as aggregate or mix-water. In older concrete (pre-1976), chloride was
intentionally but misguidedly added to accelerate hardening) or they can penetrate from
outside (for example, in saline water or water contaminated with de-icing salts). As with
carbonation, the ingress of chlorides into the concrete from an external source is
progressive and depending on conditions it may take many decades for reinforcement to
become depassivated in good, dense impermeable concrete with adequate depth of cover
to the reinforcement. At a similar level of concentration, chlorides that were cast into the
concrete at the time of its production are typically less deleterious than those that have
ingressed from external sources, because a certain proportion of cast-in chloride ions
become chemically bound-in to the concrete and are effectively inert. However, if the
concrete becomes carbonated these bound-in chloride ions are released and can
contribute to depassivation and corrosion of the reinforcement.

Sulfate attack and acid attack
Sulfate attack occurs where there is either an external source of sulfate and water or
where a sulfate bearing aggregate has been used in the concrete. Sulfates occur naturally
in groundwater, soils and rocks. In the UK, the most common source is groundwater in
gypsum-bearing soils, and clays and mudstones such as the Oxford Clay and the Mercia
Mudstone. Sulfates typically affect hardened concrete by reacting with the calcium
aluminate hydrates present in the cement to form either gypsum (hydrated calcium
sulfate) or ettringite (a hydrated calcium sulfoaluminate). These are expansive reactions,
leading to disruption and softening of the cement matrix. In severe cases disintegration of
concrete can occur through the full depth of a section. Another, rarer, form of sulfate
attack involves the formation of thaumasite. Sulfate attack can be exacerbated in presence
of acids, which also attack concrete leading to a softening and disintegration of the cement

The literature relating to sulfate attack is complex, and for detailed information on the
causes and mechanism of deterioration and guidance on assessing the risk to and avoiding
problems with new construction see BRE Special Digest 1 (BRE, 2005).

Freezing and thawing

As with masonry (see Section concrete in a saturated or near-saturated state is
susceptible to damage through cyclic freezing and thawing. This leads to loss of strength
and cohesion, cracking and spalling that can reduce the effective structural thickness of
segments and reduce concrete cover, increasing the susceptibility of reinforcement to
corrosion through carbonation or chloride ingress (see above). Because exposure to cyclic
fluctuations in temperature is necessary, freeze-thaw damage is typically confined to
concrete that is at or near to portals and shafts and is unlikely to be a problem in deep
tunnels that are insulated by the ground.

Tunnel fires
Concrete typically exhibits good resistance to damage from fire, but fires confined in
tunnels (in particular hydrocarbon fires) can generate exceptionally high temperatures
that are sustained over long periods, and high temperature differentials across sections,
which can result in severe cracking and spalling in pre-cast concrete linings. The effect of
tunnel fires is discussed in detail in Section 2.6.3.

Gasket failure
It is common for segmental pre-cast concrete linings to have gaskets between the segments
as part of the waterproofing system. If the waterproofing is ineffective, the resulting
leakage can lead to corrosion and damage to the lining (Figure 2.32). Over the last 20
years the gaskets used in tunnelling have developed from early, relatively ineffective,
bitumastic strips to much more effective co-extruded EPDM rubber and hydrophilic
gaskets. In order for any type of gasket to be effective, the lining should be built and
maintained such that there is tight control over steps, lips and gaps. Excessive steps, lips
and gaps will adversely affect the performance of the gasket (Shirlaw et al, 2006).

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 53

Figure 2.31 Concrete spalling from segmental lining sections

Figure 2.32 Gasket deterioration of circle joints and around key block
in concrete segmentally lined tunnel (courtesy Golder Associates)

Although these are perhaps the most common deteriorative processes affecting concrete
tunnel segments, other forms of deterioration such as physical salt weathering, leaching of
cement components by the passage of water and alkali-silica reaction are possible. The
diagnosis of the true causes and assessment of the consequences of concrete deterioration
is best carried out by a competent materials specialist, but for more information refer to
the Concrete Society (2000).

54 Deterioration of unlined tunnel support

The deterioration of unlined tunnels in terms of ground movement or failure is discussed

in Section 2.1.5. This section describes modes of failure in support regimes that are used
to reinforce unlined tunnels.

Rock bolts/dowels
The principal mode of deterioration for rock bolts and dowels is corrosion (see Appendix
J of BS 8001 (BSI, 1989) for a full description of corrosion mechanisms). Corrosion is
usually evident from the condition of the head of the bolt or dowel, but may occur along
the length of the bar. Corrosion can result from the absence or poor initial installation of a
corrosion protection system, degradation or cracking of the grout or resin surrounding
the bar or disruption to the protection system caused by ground movements.

There can also be deterioration of face plates and loosening of locking nuts over time,
which can have the effect of untensioning bolts and reducing the effectiveness of dowels.

The integrity of installed bolts or dowels can be assessed non-destructively using a recently
developed percussive technique (Starkey et al, 2001). Other systems using ultrasonic and
radio frequency methods have also been developed (HSE, 2003a). Where pattern bolting
has been installed, it may be appropriate for pull out testing to be carried out to
determine the effectiveness of the support. However, careful analysis of the support and
tunnel condition is required before this is undertaken.

Rockfall protection mesh

Corrosion of plastic coated wire mesh is common, particularly if the mesh is pinned to the
rock face where the plastic protection is easily damaged, usually during installation. Very
old mesh is frequently seen to fall away from rock bolt locations due to corrosion. These
areas can preferentially corrode due to water using the bolts as a pathway or due to bi-
metallic action between the face plates and the mesh.

The integrity of rockfall protection mesh can also be compromised by an excessive weight
of material that has fallen from the tunnel wall to be restrained by the mesh.

Sprayed concrete
Sprayed concrete deterioration usually takes the form of delamination from the surface to
which it has been applied. It can result from poor original application, poor concrete
mixing, or installation of inadequate drainage. The lack of drainage leads to the build-up
of water pressure behind the sprayed concrete, forcing it away from the tunnel wall.

2.6.3 Effect of fire on tunnels

Tunnel fires can be quite different in character to those occurring in above-ground

structures, potentially generating higher temperatures and sustaining them over a much
longer period of time. Generally, but not always, tunnel fires are vehicle fires, which have
some important characteristics that are not shared by most building fires, in particular:

 fuel tanks, which can rupture or explode causing a very rapid increase in fire growth/
 cargoes, which provide a high fuel density and result in larger fires with greater
volume of smoke
 passenger density, which can be very high, with major implications for rescue from
confined spaces.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 55

Experiences of serious fires in modern tunnels suggest that temperatures at the lining
normally average 600 to 700°C, but can reach 1300°C or more locally. The severity of
combustion depends on the nature and quantity of the available fuel (hydrocarbon fires
pose a particular hazard) and the ventilation. Because there is nowhere for the fire plume
to escape upwards, heat is retained close to the fire and radiation reflected by the smoke
layer and the material surrounding the tunnel is many times greater than for a fire an
unconfined space.

Recent experimental studies (Ingason and Lonnermark, 2005) suggest that the heat
release of a HGV fire in a tunnel (carrying a normal cargo, rather than a hazardous one)
may be between 100–200 MW, which is significantly greater than the values of 50 MW or
less that were typically used in the design of existing infrastructure tunnels. The Channel
Tunnel fire of 1996 reached temperatures of 1000°C (Kirkland, 2002), and a fire involving
fuel tankers in Summit Tunnel in 1984, described in Case study A1.18, burned for several
days reaching temperatures of over 1500°C. So fire can place exceptional demands on the
structural materials present in tunnels.

The effect of fire on tunnel structural elements and materials is considered in the
following sections.

Operational and safety aspects of tunnel fires and other hazards are considered in
Section 3.7. The influence of structural form

The guide by BTS and ICE (2004) considers two main types of structural members:

1 Flexural members (eg members of rectangular tunnels).

2 Compression members (eg those of circular tunnels).

It comment on how the structural form of tunnels affects their ability to resist fire:

 in non-circular tunnels or tunnels with non-uniform cross-section formed from

reinforced concrete, the principal load condition is controlled by considerations of
bending. Spalling of the soffit and loss of reinforcement in that zone will significantly
reduce the capacity of the section
 in circular tunnels, the principal load condition is hoop compression. In concrete and
masonry linings, the reduction of capacity may only be governed by the amount and
rate of spalling. In circular sections, reinforcement in concrete often provides only
secondary structural support, so its loss may not have the same significance as for
non-circular tunnels.

As a result of a fire the movement of the tunnel lining, its stiffness, effective section and
interaction with the ground may change and these factors should be considered in its
design and any post-fire assessments. Concrete and masonry linings

Concrete and masonry are non-homogenous materials whose thermal conductivity is low,
typically 50 times less than structural steel. This means that they heat up slowly, are less
severely affected by relatively short-duration fires, and even in longer duration fires the
depth to which damagingly high temperatures penetrate may be quite limited. So tunnel

linings with adequately thick sections often perform well in fires and areas requiring
repair may be low. They are non-combustible and do not emit toxic fumes on heating.

Although resistance of concrete to fire damage is typically considered good, it is generally

inferior to that of masonry constructed with brick and other burned clay products as they
have already been exposed to high temperatures during manufacture and so are relatively
stable in fire endurance tests. Historically, masonry walls have demonstrated excellent fire
resistance, provided that the foundations and supporting structures remain stable. Past
experience indicates that little damage may be caused and structural integrity maintained
even during very prolonged and severe hydrocarbon-fuelled tunnel fires (for example, as
described in Case study A1.18). The performance of stone masonry in fires is not generally
as good as brickwork, but will depend on the type of stone.

The principal detrimental effects of exposure to fire in these materials are:

 loss of effective structural section through spalling and delamination

 irreversible loss of strength (particularly in concrete)
 in some situations, thermal warping and buckling (of masonry).

The low thermal conductivity of these materials means that in thick sections when only
one side of the section is exposed to heat, as is the case in tunnel fires, temperature
gradients across the section can be large. This can lead to high internal stresses and loss of
effective structural section through spalling and, in multi-ring masonry linings, cracking
and delamination between rings. This can have a detrimental effect on the stability of the
tunnel lining.

Spalling is particularly a problem for high-strength concretes (HSC) with compressive
strengths of 55 MPa or more, where explosive spalling can result in the rapid loss of the
surface layers of the concrete during a fire, increasing the rate of transmission of heat to
the core concrete and the reinforcement.

Spalling is attributed to the build-up of water and air pore pressure during heating. HSC
is believed to be more susceptible to this pressure build-up than normal strength concrete
because of its low permeability (Kodur and Sultan, 1998, Lie and Woolerton, 1988). The
extremely high water vapour pressure, generated during exposure to fire, cannot escape
because of the high density (and low permeability) of HSC. This pressure often reaches
the saturation vapour pressure, which at 300°C is about 8 MPa. Such internal pressures
are often too high to be resisted by the HSC, which has a tensile strength of about 5 MPa
(Kodur, 1999).

The Channel Tunnel fire in 1996 caused severe damage to tunnel rings because of the
spalling of concrete that completely destroyed some areas of the 450 mm thick concrete
lining, exposing the chalky soil behind. It resulted in injuries to eight people, closure of
the tunnel for six months and an economic loss approaching £1m per day (Ulm et al,
1999). The severity of the spalling was attributed to the high strength of the concrete.

Typically, concrete begins to suffer irreversible loss in strength once heated to

temperatures in excess of 300°C, depending on its composition and nature. Concrete with
siliceous aggregate is more affected than other types. This strength loss is accompanied by
an even greater loss in Young’s Modulus, although this is believed to be at least in part
recovered over time. For practical purposes, 600°C can be considered as the limiting
temperature for structural integrity of concrete made with Portland cement (Neville,

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 57

1995). Sudden temperature changes, such as those that might be caused by rapid
quenching of a fire by water, can lead to greater reductions in strength.

In reinforced concrete, as the reinforcing steel approaches a temperature of 600°C it loses

about 50 per cent of its yield strength and becomes susceptible to buckling and distortion.
This is reversible on gradual cooling. Heating to 800°C may result in a permanent
reduction in yield strength of between 30 per cent (for cold-worked bars) and five per cent
(for hot-rolled bars). However, even at temperatures below this, if a rapid loss of
temperature associated with sudden quenching occurs there may be a permanent loss of
ductility that can severely reduce the load carrying capabilities of reinforced elements
(NCSCCMI, 1994). Prestressing steels experience a permanent loss of strength at lower
temperatures than for reinforcing bars, affecting cold-drawn and heat-treated steels at
about 300°C and 400°C respectively. Additionally, spalling of prestressed concrete that
exposes steel strand can indicate a loss of prestress, resulting in reduced capacity that
should be properly investigated before any repairs are carried out. Further information
on the performance of concrete exposed to fire, and advice on the assessment and
reinstatement of fire-damaged concrete, is given in the Concrete Society TR33 (Concrete
Society, 1990).

Masonry (brickwork and stone)

By comparison, masonry units of clay brickwork show little strength loss when heated to
temperatures up to 1000°C, although the mortar is affected at lower temperatures, similar
to those of concrete, resulting in a loss of bond strength between brick and mortar.
However, results from over 200 full-scale fire tests carried out in Australia indicated that
concentrically loaded masonry walls do not suffer sufficient strength loss at elevated
temperatures to fail in compression (Gnanakrishnan and Lawther, 1990), rather they tend
to fail through excessive deflection caused by buckling under high differential thermal
gradients, predominantly affecting elements with thin sections. The effect of fire on
stonework is not so predictable because the properties of the many different types of stone
vary considerably, but some generalisations can be made. At high temperatures
(600–800°C) the strength of most stones is seriously affected and if thermal shock occurs
the stone can disintegrate. At lower temperatures (200°C–300°C) damage is usually
restricted to colour changes, for example, the reddening of iron-containing stones
(Chakrabarti et al, 1996). Metallic linings

Metallic materials behave very differently in fires to masonry and concrete, and depend
on the type of metal, its production and the construction form. In new construction,
additional protection is commonly specified for steel structural elements to meet fire
resistance specifications. The guide by BTS and ICE (2004) argues that fire protection is
not needed except where there is a risk of a high-temperature (generally hydrocarbon)
fire. Where protection is necessary it can be difficult to find an acceptably economic
solution, but the use of intumescent paint or an internal lining of polypropylene fibre
reinforced concrete can be effective. A discussion of protection systems is beyond the scope
of this document.

Steel tunnel linings

Steel begins to lose strength at temperatures above 300°C and reduces in strength at a
steady rate until about 800°C. The residual strength is significantly decreased at this
temperature and is about 50 per cent of its room temperature strength. Beyond 800°C the
reduction in residual strength is more gradual until the melting temperature at about

1500°C. The capacity of steel to accept high levels of strain increases significantly at higher
temperatures (Lawson and Newman, 1990).

Strength reduction factors for steel with increasing temperature are given in BS 5950-8
(BSI, 2003a) and research has shown that this approach is valid for older mild steel
provided that the yield stress adopted is appropriate to the steel being assessed (Bussell,

Also the response of steel in a fire depends on the rate of heating due to a creep
component of the deformation at temperatures above 450°C. The phenomenon of creep
results in an increase of deformation (strain) with time, even if the temperature and
applied stress remain unchanged. High temperature creep is dependent on the stress
level and heating rate. The occurrence of creep indicates that the stress and the
temperature history should be taken into account when estimating the strength and
deformation behaviour of steel structures in fire.

Hot-rolled structural steel will regain virtually all of its strength when it cools back to
ambient temperature from 600°C, but exposure to higher temperatures will result in a
reduction in strength on returning to ambient temperature. The extent of the strength
reduction depends on the grade of steel (Lawson and Newman, 1990).

Cast iron tunnel linings

London Underground cast iron deep tube tunnel linings are either composed of grey cast
iron, spheroidal graphite iron or flexible grey cast iron, all with differing properties. The
melting temperature of cast irons is in the range 1150 to 1300°C, at which point these
materials are fully molten.

The strength of cast irons is retained up to temperatures of at least 400°C, but there is
historical evidence of catastrophic failure at temperatures below this as a result of cracking
(Bussell, 1997). Cracking could either occur during the fire (and may lead to immediate
structural collapse), or when applying cold water to put out the fire leading to explosive
shattering of the iron and progressive structural collapse. Fire testing carried out by the
Greater London Council Scientific Services Branch in 1984, found previously loaded cast
iron beams cracked when the unloaded beam was hosed down. It is thought that the
cracking is a result of significant locked-in thermal stresses in the previously compressed
area of the beam (Bussell, 1997). In buildings sprinkler systems would normally be
activated before cast iron elements reached temperatures at which this cracking
phenomenon occurred, but the authors are not aware of any infrastructure tunnels in the
UK now that have such systems.

The thermal expansion of cast iron is lower than that of steel at 1 × 10-5°C-1 but it is
unable to undergo distortion in a fire due to the material’s weakness in tension (Lawson
and Newman, 1990). It is often the thermal expansion properties of cast iron that result in
its failure in a fire where it is in contact with other materials. Due to its brittle nature it is
vulnerable to the distortion of the structure around it. For example, if cast iron elements
are attached to steel elements, expansion of the steel during heating from a fire could lead
to tensile bending failure of the cast iron elements.

The residual strength of cast iron is similar to steel up to 600°C, but at temperatures above
this the reduction in strength is more significant than that of steel.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 59

As discussed in Section 2.2 (on shaft construction) shafts can be a liability in terms of their
own maintenance and their effect on the tunnel and the land above it. In certain
circumstances shafts can become unstable, potentially leading to collapse causing damage
to the tunnel and to people and property above it within their zone of influence. Figure
2.14 shows the possible states of construction shafts.

Open shafts are frequently responsible for the ingress of water into tunnels because they
can act as vertical drains for groundwater above it, particularly where they intercept
permeable strata. They also allow the circulation of cold air so that shaft linings and the
adjacent areas of tunnel often suffer from freeze-thaw damage. Their condition should be
assessed periodically through inspection (see Section 4.7) to allow maintenance and repair
as necessary.

Capped, filled and partly filled shafts may also act as drains, directing water down to the
tunnel from overlying ground. Shafts capped at their top but left open at their base
(Figure 2.14, types 2 and 3) require inspection and maintenance as for open shafts, but
present additional access difficulties. Filled shafts (Figure 2.14, type 4) do not allow
inspection other than at the tunnel intrados, but if properly filled with stable and
lightweight material should present a reduced risk of collapse. However, there are
circumstances in which shaft stability is at risk:

 where shafts have been improperly filled or contain voids or unstable material, or
where capping has been constructed with timbers that rot and become unstable.
Settlement can result in voids that migrate upwards to be expressed at the ground
surface above
 where friction between the shaft lining and the surrounding ground is lost, the tunnel
lining supporting the shaft at its base is subject to increased loading and may become
unstable. This could be caused by the passage of water along the lining/ground
interface or the shrinkage of the ground and/or lining in dry weather
 where deterioration of the tunnel lining occurs at its structural connection with the
shaft. Its capacity to bear load is reduced, particularly where original construction
timbers may have been left in place. This may be exacerbated by the passage of water.

It is vital that the location of all shafts is known so that the risks can be assessed and, where
necessary, mitigated. However, the existence of shafts was not always recorded at the time
of construction, and where unrecorded shafts are not visible from the ground surface or
from within the tunnel, their presence may remain unknown. Such shafts present an
uncontrolled risk to the tunnel and the land above it. So it is important to locate all shafts,
including those that are hidden and blind, and apply a process of condition assessment,
maintenance and repair as for the rest of the tunnel. Network Rail has a policy of marking
the location and, where possible, the extent of all hidden shafts directly on the tunnel
lining so that they may be easily located and particular attention can be focused on these
areas during visual inspections (Network Rail, 2004b).

It is worth considering that in recent UK history the most serious tunnel collapse (Clifton
Hall), which resulted in multiple fatalities and a major public inquiry in 1953, was because
of the instability of a hidden and unknown construction shaft. Several other serious tunnel
collapses have occurred for the same reason. (the Clifton Hall collapse is described in Case
study A1.18, among other similar incidents).

2.7.1 Effect at ground level

Consideration of the potential effect of a tunnel at ground level requires an evaluation of

its zone of influence ie the volume of surrounding material that is potentially affected by
it, particularly by a collapse of the tunnel and any shafts or adits. It is important to assess
the zone of influence for tunnels for the purpose of risk management. An assessment of
the zone of influence is necessary for controlling liability in cases where the use of the land
above the shaft changes, increasing the overburden. The assessment can be used to
identify land and property use above the tunnel and produce a list of potentially affected
landowners, and to assess the consequences of tunnel deterioration and collapse, in
particular where hidden shafts are suspected or known to be present (Section 3.7), or
where tunnels become disused and should be maintained to control risk rather than as an
operational asset (Section 3.9).

An example of the effect of tunnel collapse at the ground surface is the collapse of a
disused rail tunnel on the Canterbury to Whitstable line in 1974, which resulted in the
collapse and demolition of a University of Kent building located above it, described in
Case study A1.18.

An initial determination of the potential zone of influence of a tunnel can be based on the
properties of the ground and the depth of cover to the tunnel, as illustrated in Figure 2.33.

Figure 2.33 Simplified method for determining the zone of influence of tunnels (a) and shafts only (b)
(after Network Rail, 2004a)

Values for tunnel diameter and depth of shafts can be taken from drawings or inspection
records where available. The geology in the region of the tunnel can typically be obtained
from drift maps, and ground characteristics, including worse case friction angles for the
materials that are present, can be taken from published data (eg Hoek and Bray, 1977).

Where variations in ground conditions occur, the worse case geological characteristics of
the possible variations can be taken and applied uniformly throughout the overburden to
give a conservative result, and ensuring that the extent of the zone is not underestimated.
In this case, the lowest value of the slope friction angle for all materials occurring should
be applied uniformly throughout the overburden as shown in Figure 2.33.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 61

Evaluations should be made at sections taken at the location of tunnel shafts and where a
change in overburden profile is evident (from long-sections or contour lines on
topographic maps). The results may be plotted onto a map of the ground surface above
the tunnel to define the limits of the zone of influence and identify land-use and
ownership within it.

The method described provides a straightforward means of making what is likely to be a

relatively conservative estimate, but in certain situations it may be too simplistic (Network
Rail, 2004a). It could, however, be useful in providing an initial assessment for identifying
areas where risk to development is significant enough to merit a more sophisticated site-
specific assessment method with a greater degree of accuracy. The best approach for the
determination of the zone of influence should follow discussions between tunnel engineers
and geotechnical specialists. This will include a consideration of the level of risk that, for
example, depends on land-use at the ground surface above.

In the past, various rules of thumb have been proposed for assessing the safe distance
from a tunnel for further development: Price et al (1968) suggested that, for multi-storey
development, a minimum distance was equal to the depth of superficial deposits, up to a
maximum of 30 m. It has also been suggested that a safe distance can be defined by the
dimensions subtended by an angle of 45° to the ground surface from the point where the
sides of the shaft intersect rock head (NCB, 1982) or that, in situations where the
overburden is not exceptionally weak, a distance of twice the overburden thickness, up to
a maximum of 15 m depth may be used (Bell, 1975). However, a more realistic safe
distance can be assessed on a shaft-by-shaft basis by considering the local circumstances,
primarily the geological properties of the soils and rocks present, and the state of the
shaft, followed by stability analysis using classical mechanics methods (Healey and Head,

3 Tunnel asset management


Tunnels are a vital element of the transport and services infrastructure. They have
typically performed well in service because of their construction, many for at least 100
years and some for considerably more, and often with relatively little maintenance, repair
and alteration. However, changes do occur, some sudden and others more gradual, and
without intervention tunnel condition cannot safely be considered steady state, for

 in some cases tunnels have been modified to accommodate a change in use from that
originally designed for (for example, canal tunnels converted to accommodate
railways), which may impose changes in loading to the tunnel invert or lining not
previously envisaged
 other modifications, such as infilling of shafts, can also influence loading on the
 urban development over time may also have an effect, particularly on relatively
shallow utility and metro system tunnels in cities where there is increasing subsurface
construction, for example, tall buildings with deep piles, basements and other tunnels
 ground movements and hydrological variations (for example, changes in land
drainage and water tables) may bring about changes in ground pressure, either
directly (for example, hydrostatic pressure) or indirectly (for example, swelling clays)
 the natural processes of weathering and decay result in deterioration of tunnel
materials, typically causing loss of strength and cohesion, which may result in
redistribution of loading and reduced structural stability
 where structural elements are not readily visible for inspection (for example, where
they are obscured by sheeting or a secondary lining, or where access cannot be easily
gained) deterioration can progress undetected unless special measures are taken to
monitor their condition.

Like any other structure, tunnels have a finite life before significant renewal or
replacement works are required. However, the huge resources required and the impact of
disruption associated with wholesale renewal and replacement of the tunnel infrastructure
means that wholesale removal is not a feasible option. In effect, it is necessary to consider
such assets as having an indefinite life and aim to devise management, maintenance and
repair strategies that will ensure their continued safety and serviceability well into the
future. To achieve this it is imperative that the highest standards of asset stewardship are
established and maintained, and this requires the development and application of efficient
management policies and procedures, supported by adequate resources.


There are several features and characteristics of ageing tunnels that require special
consideration in their management:

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 63

 many are among the oldest elements of the transport infrastructure and have
particular maintenance and repair needs that may differ from those of modern
 they are often very individual in their character, behaviour and maintenance needs
 typically they lack information regarding their design, construction, hidden structure
and important environmental factors such as local ground conditions
 their structural behaviour and performance is complex and not as well understood as
that of modern structures, presenting difficulties for structural assessment
 access is often restricted and conditions within tunnels may be poor. This may hamper
inspection, investigation, maintenance and repair work, and makes it difficult,
disruptive and expensive. Because of this there is a risk that it may be neglected or
undertaken in a sub-optimal fashion
 visual inspection is limited to the intrados, and it is difficult to get reliable information
about what is going on behind this
 the effectiveness of repairs and alterations and their likely influence on the long-term
performance and maintenance of the structure are not well understood
 hidden features, such as tunnel shafts, may be difficult to access and inspect, or their
presence may not be known, which can be a hazard to safety.

Infrastructure tunnels represent a huge capital investment, which should be protected,

and the benefits of developing effective ways of dealing with these challenges are likely to
be considerable.


The consequences of loss of tunnel performance are described in the following sections:

Safety in operation
Factors such as age, increased traffic loading, inadequate or poor maintenance and
deferred repairs reduce tunnel performance and may ultimately compromise operational
safety. For certain types of tunnel safety in daily operation is largely a matter of the
mechanical and electrical components that are installed and renewed on a much shorter
life cycle than the civil structure. Structural instability means that operational safety cannot
be guaranteed, public safety is jeopardised and complete closure of the tunnel may be
necessary. Other types of failure may not compromise the structural integrity of the tunnel
but can nonetheless result in serious accidents and injuries, for instance material falling
from a tunnel crown into the running area below. For certain types of tunnel
infrastructure, such as utilities, the public safety issues may be less onerous but hardly less
tolerable for other reasons. Risks to those in and over the tunnels should be considered.
See Section 2.7.1 for consideration of the potential area of influence of a tunnel and its
shafts both underground and at the ground surface.

Disruption and customer dissatisfaction

While it is impossible to avoid unplanned disruption completely, a proactive approach to
maintenance and planning repair works can significantly reduce it. Increasing demand on
services places greater pressures on infrastructure owners to ensure smooth operation,
and there may be direct penalties for failure to comply with operational performance
targets. Also to the negative user-perceptions associated with disruption and delays to
services, in certain situations there is also increased user risk.

Costs of accidents, failure and repair
When unplanned repair becomes necessary, significant costs are likely to be incurred.
These costs may extend beyond the direct cost of remedial works to the provision of
access, temporary restrictions, provision of alternative services, lane and line closures in
road and rail infrastructure, and reduction in revenue. Where a tunnel failure has
occurred or a structural fault has resulted in accident or injury, the need for formal
investigations may entail further loss of service with consequential loss of revenue and
possibly punitive financial penalties.

Serious incidents, such as tunnel fires, may require significant periods of closure to effect
repairs and any necessary upgrades of tunnel systems to prevent recurrence and improve
safety. Where major infrastructure tunnels are concerned, the national economic
consequences can be considerable. Table 3.1 gives three recent examples of the direct and
consequential economic costs of major tunnel fires. In each case the total national
consequential cost is significantly greater than the cost of the tunnel repairs alone. Aside
from the economic cost, the Tauern and Mont Blanc fires between them cost dozens of
lives and left many more injured.

Table 3.1 Direct and consequential cost of tunnel incidents (after Rock and Ireland, 2005)

Tunnel/incident Cost of repairs (€) Total cost (€) Lives lost

Channel Tunnel fire (1996) 48.5m 253m 0

Mont Blanc Tunnel fire (1999) 189m 392m 39

Tauern Tunnel fire (1999) 8.5m 29m 12

Managing tunnel maintenance

As noted in Section 3.1, most tunnels are required to have an indefinite life: the
maintenance of a tunnel can be defined as all the operations necessary to maintain it in a
serviceable condition indefinitely, including:

 condition appraisal (inspections, testing and monitoring, structural assessments)

 routine maintenance (typically involving like-for-like replacement of the tunnel fabric
to maintain efficient functioning and preserve condition)
 interventions (to carry out vital repairs to and modification of the structural fabric in
response to deterioration and loss of performance, or adaptations to meet new
requirements, eg for higher loadings, health and safety or control equipment)
 emergency actions (eg in response to unforeseen incidents).

It is necessary for asset managers to develop effective and efficient management strategies
that maintain the tunnel fit for purpose and help to avoid the need for emergency action,
ensuring safe operation at an adequate level of service. These strategies should also align
with the long-term objectives of the infrastructure owner and meet statutory and
regulatory requirements. This can be achieved by a system of maintenance planning and
management for tunnel assets, carried out through a formalised system of procedures.
This allows the asset manager to identify the maintenance needs of the tunnel stock as a
whole and of individual structures, and to develop and justify suitable maintenance plans
to address these both system-wide and on individual tunnels. This information is included
in the asset management plan, which documents management objectives for the assets and
sets out a clear strategy for achieving them.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 65

A suitable maintenance planning process includes several elements and stages:

 undertake an investigation into the history of the tunnel, using suitable historic
sources (see Appendix A2)
 compile and maintain a tunnel inventory and database
 carry out periodic condition appraisal of tunnel stock
 identify maintenance needs
 assess and prioritise maintenance needs (value management)
 develop optimal solutions for prioritised maintenance needs (value engineering)
 consider resource availability and prepare work plans and schedules
 programmed maintenance works
 keep tunnel records updated with current information
 monitor and improve the management process through continual feedback.

This approach can be used to ensure that safety, performance and business objectives are
met, to determine the resources required, and to make best use of available resources
through sustainable maintenance work plans. If such a system is properly devised, fully
initiated and adequately resourced it will provide improved asset performance and return
on maintenance investment.

For example, road tunnel maintenance for Highways Agency tunnels is to be undertaken
in accordance with HA standard BA 72 (HA, 2003), and this provides useful guidance for
other road tunnels. While the majority of continuing maintenance tasks for highway
tunnels relate to tunnel equipment, there are also sections on tunnel structure cleaning
and maintenance that are relevant to other tunnel infrastructure.

3.4.1 Appraisal of current condition, performance and serviceability

To ascertain maintenance requirements it is necessary to gather and periodically update

and evaluate information relating to tunnel performance and condition by a process of
condition appraisal. In this context, the term appraisal is used in its broader sense to
encompass all the activities undertaken to determine the adequacy that a tunnel can
perform its functions. Each of the main infrastructure owners has its own internal
procedures and systems for determining the maintenance needs of its structures,
including tunnels, but they are mostly based on a similar principle: information on
individual tunnels is obtained through regular visual inspections. This is supplemented by
more detailed inspections less frequently, and by further investigation works and/or
structural assessment where necessary. Additional information on the tunnel, its past
performance and maintenance history is also considered. In particular, increasingly
sophisticated surveying and monitoring techniques are being used to meet the ever-
greater demand for information on the behaviour of civil engineering structures,
including tunnels. The information obtained is used as a basis for making informed
decisions regarding safety, serviceability and performance.

The range of information used to appraise a tunnel’s serviceability is given in Figure 3.1.

A thorough investigation As-built details including
into the history, type and Thickness and voids, shafts etc.
method of construction capacity of any Particular attention shall
including any remaining lining present be given to locating
temporary works blind or hidden shafts

Structural features Construction

affecting operational materials their
safety including strength, current
clearances for traffic conditions and levels
of deterioration

Geology of the Risk from current or

surrounding material abandoned mineral
and its influence on extraction workings
the tunnel lining

Effect of present Presence of water

type of traffic on Serviceability and known
the tunnel structure watercourses

Condition and History, type

significant and method
defects of any repairs

Cover and Effect on

tunnel tunnel of
dimensions other works

Presence of combustible materials

in the tunnel (including shafts, adits,
portals, and other passages) and
the vulnerability of the tunnel to fire

Figure 3.1 Information required for an assessment of tunnel serviceability (Network Rail, 2004a)

Using this information, current tunnel performance and condition is assessed against
serviceability criteria assigned by the asset owner. These criteria will include standards for
safety as well as structural and operational performance and will vary according to the
infrastructure type and owner policies and objectives. The results of the appraisal are used
to assess the overall condition of the tunnel and identify any changes or trends, to plan
routine and preventative maintenance to preserve tunnel condition, and to trigger
reactive repairs to correct unacceptable performance where a tunnel is not considered
serviceable (see Figure 3.2).

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 67

Figure 3.2 Outline process for assessing and maintaining serviceability of tunnels

The information produced in the course of condition appraisal should be collated and
recorded in a suitable format, incorporated in the asset inventory and used to highlight
any changes in tunnel condition, and determine its serviceability and level of performance
against specified performance requirements. This information forms the basis for
assessing the tunnel’s needs and determining appropriate management actions, such as:

 adequacy of existing routine maintenance regime

 additional routine maintenance requirements
 changes in frequency of inspections
 requirements for further inspections and their objectives
 need for structural assessment
 essential maintenance requirements
 requirements for safety measures (restrictions of use, regular monitoring).

The interval between inspections is related to the importance of the tunnel and the
perceived degree of risk associated with it. Also to routine/planned inspections, certain
observations and incidents may lead to a requirement for special investigation of a tunnel’s
condition and performance (see Section 4.3.2). This might involve an increase in the
frequency of visual inspection, or carrying out specific investigations involving a variety of
testing and monitoring techniques to assess the structural condition of the tunnel, the
nature and cause of any defects, their extent and potentially the rate of deterioration. This
information can be used to evaluate the tunnel’s performance against safety and
serviceability requirements, determine the optimal management strategy and assess the
need for maintenance and remedial works.

3.4.2 Maintenance strategies

Where maintenance is required, this involves implementation of routine works (periodic,

often cyclic, planned maintenance tasks to repair minor defects and prevent or slow future
deterioration) and interventions (repair and rehabilitation of the structural fabric in
response to deterioration and loss of performance). Maintenance typically includes both
planned (proactive) or unplanned (reactive) activities, and depend on knowledge of
current condition, often obtained by periodic inspection and an assessment of tunnel
performance against requirements (see Figure 3.2).

When maintenance resources are limited it is sometimes the case that routine works are
neglected or given a lower priority than they deserve. This can be counterproductive in
the long-term. What began as minor maintenance issues can develop into serious
problems if not dealt with at an early stage, often with significant repercussions for tunnel
serviceability in the interim period and the eventual cost and disruption associated with
rectifying problems that were avoidable in the first place. Unless there is good justification
otherwise, asset managers should establish a proactive regime of preventative routine
maintenance for all tunnels: maintenance and repair programmes should deal with the
causes, and not just the effects, of deterioration. Advice on routine maintenance is given in
Chapter 5.

Planned and reactive maintenance strategies are discussed further in the following sub-
sections. Planned maintenance

Planned maintenance can be subdivided into two types:

1 Periodic maintenance is carried out regularly at predetermined intervals, the intervals

being based either on calendar time (eg quarterly, annually, biennially) or on actual
functional time in operation (eg after 1000 hrs operation). The former is more
common for a tunnel structure, whereas the latter is more typically used for tunnel
equipment. Periodic maintenance is suitable where maintenance requirements are
relatively regular and foreseeable, or where condition-based maintenance is
unfeasible. The maintenance interval is important because if it is set too high it will
result in unnecessary work and wasted resources, but if set too low tunnel
serviceability, and sometimes safety, may fall below acceptable standards. Once
sufficient experience and information has been gained, maintenance intervals may be
2 Condition-based maintenance aims to provide maintenance as it is needed so that
intervention is always at an optimal time and resources are not wasted. It is the most
common and potentially the most suitable method for maintaining tunnel structures.
However it requires a good knowledge of current condition and an adequate
understanding of tunnel performance and deterioration to define suitable,
measurable triggers for activating maintenance interventions. Condition checking is
typically carried out by regular inspections to identify visible evidence of loss of
performance at an early stage, allowing problems to be quickly resolved before they
start to affect safety and serviceability. The principal limitation of this approach is that
it depends upon identifying and responding appropriately to detectable criteria, and
works better for more evident defects such as cracking and spalling, but less well for
those that do not show clearly visible symptoms.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 69 Reactive maintenance

Reactive maintenance consists of carrying out corrective remedial works once loss of
performance has occurred. If there is a positive aspect to reactive maintenance, it is that
the initial maintenance intervention may be deferred. However, it is not an economical or
sustainable policy for long-term stewardship of assets such as tunnels as it has several
potential drawbacks compared with planned maintenance:

 it is not possible to budget or plan for maintenance

 maintenance is likely to be more disruptive and costly
 it can allow deterioration to spread and affect other elements
 the asset condition worsens and maintenance demand is increased in the long-term
 good knowledge of current condition is particularly critical
 there is a greater risk to operational efficiency and safety.

Although planned preventative maintenance can reduce the risk of the need for reactive
maintenance, it cannot be avoided altogether. Asset owners should be adequately
prepared for unforeseen malfunctions and failures of the tunnel structure and associated
equipment (that may need emergency actions).

In both planned and reactive maintenance, it is important that good records are kept of
the work that has been carried out, preferably to include records of location, type and
extent of repairs, their cost, materials used, and before and after photographic records,
sketches or dimensioned drawings. Over time, the accumulated information will be
invaluable in future maintenance assessment and planning, and can be used for
monitoring deterioration rates to provide a more realistic assessment of future
maintenance needs.

3.4.3 Maintenance planning and prioritisation Assessment of tunnel criticality

It is often necessary to prioritise maintenance needs based on an assessment of the

criticality and sensitivity of individual infrastructure elements because resources for asset
maintenance can be limited. This requires infrastructure owners and operators to identify
those elements that are most critical to ensuring the safety and efficient operation of their
networks. Tunnels are often among these, so frequently merit a high priority for
management activities.

Criteria for prioritisation may include:

 risk assessment
 tunnel condition and assessed safety factors
 degree and consequences of substandard performance and failure
 importance of route
 minimisation of maintenance costs
 organisational policy
 environmental considerations
 budgetary constraints.

Operationally critical tunnels can be identified by an assessment of their location within
primary transport and distribution routes, volume of transport and possible diversion
options so as to consider the impact of loss of performance and tunnel closure on the
network infrastructure. For critical tunnels, depending on the condition, it may be
possible to justify a higher frequency of routine inspections relative to non-critical tunnels
and other structures (see Section 4.3.2), so maintenance and repair works may benefit
from being given a higher priority. This approach requires careful consideration of the
relative risks and benefits involved, but makes good sense in terms of efficient asset

A risk-based approach (see Section 3.5.4) can be used to assist with identifying high-
criticality structures, and with prioritisation and planning to achieve optimum use of
resources. Effect of maintenance strategy on tunnel performance

The frequency and scope of maintenance intervention will depend on the desired level of
performance of the tunnel, as illustrated in Figure 3.3. In service, deterioration (and
possibly other factors) result in a gradual loss of tunnel performance over time. This
translates into an increasing loss of reliability and risk of failure until the full service life of
the tunnel is reached and major rehabilitation or renewal is required. In the meantime,
maintenance interventions are carried out to prolong the service life and keep tunnel
performance and reliability at acceptable levels. The frequency and scope of maintenance
influences the margin of safety between actual tunnel performance and the intervention
level where performance becomes unacceptable.

Ideally, if the rate of reliability loss (represented by the slope of the curve in Figure 3.3)
were accurately known, asset managers would be able to identify optimal timings for
maintenance intervals and interventions. However, in reality, the rate of deterioration and

The optimal maintenance strategy will be one that provides the desired
level of performance over the longest period in the most economical
way. This will vary according to the policy of the infrastructure owner,
the asset type and the specific characteristics of the actual asset.

Figure 3.3 Relationship of serviceable life, performance and maintenance interventions (from Patterson
and Perry, 1998)

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 71

its effect on reliability is difficult to evaluate for most tunnel structures and assessing the
optimal timings for maintenance and repair relies heavily on engineering judgement. This
engineering judgement is more likely to be accurate if it is supported by good quality
reliable data on current and past tunnel condition and performance.

For tunnels, which are frequently expected to have an indefinite life, and where closures
and restrictions for carrying out maintenance and repair work are particularly costly and
disruptive, there is good justification for expenditure on a programme of regular planned
maintenance. This will keep the structure at a safe margin above the intervention level
and defer the requirement for more major rehabilitation works. Effect of maintenance strategy on inspection intervals

The optimum inspection interval for individual tunnels is likely to differ, depending on
their type, condition, deterioration and accessibility, and the consequences of hazards
occurring. A suitable balance should be maintained between tunnel condition, the level of
preventative maintenance and inspection interval. In relative terms, inspections at longer
intervals may be acceptable in tunnels with a high reliability, ie those that are known to be
in good condition and are subject to regular preventative maintenance. Tunnels that have
a low reliability, ie those that are in poor condition and are maintained in a reactive
fashion, need shorter inspection intervals. There are potential advantages of varying
inspection intervals rather than specifying fixed intervals, but the risks associated with
increasing inspection intervals need to be adequately assessed on a tunnel-by-tunnel basis
and often there is insufficient data available to do this adequately. Because of this, most
large infrastructure owners have fixed-interval inspection regimes that are adequate to
ensure the safety and serviceability of the numerical majority of their tunnels. Some have
provision for reducing inspection intervals for the minority of tunnels that are identified
as being particularly sensitive, for example, due to continuing deterioration or following
structural repairs. Inspection intervals are discussed further in Section 4.3.2. Optimising planned maintenance strategies

As discussed in Section 3.4.2, a proactive system of maintenance should be established for

tunnel assets, based on a good understanding of a tunnel’s past history, its current
condition and its likely future requirements. This information can be used to formulate a
strategy for planned, preventative maintenance, in which tunnel condition is maintained
at or slightly above the optimum level.

Wherever possible, maintenance should treat the cause of loss of performance, as well as
its effect. This is one of the main principles of preventative maintenance. However,
putting this theory into practice can present difficulties:

1 The circumstances that cause deterioration may not be readily detectable (eg changes
in ground pressure or loss of materials strength) and the maintainer may become
aware of the need for maintenance only after the tunnel’s performance has been
affected. Maintenance then becomes reactive.
2 It may not always be feasible to treat causes rather than symptoms. For example, in a
long tunnel suffering from widespread water ingress, it may be more economical to
try to directly mitigate the problems the water causes rather than attempt to control
or prevent water ingress throughout the tunnel. Frequently, a successful maintenance
strategy will aim to provide preventative maintenance and treat causes of loss of
performance, but it should be prepared to carry out reactive maintenance and
treatment of symptoms where this is unavoidable or can otherwise be justified.

It is important that effective asset management relies on accurate and comprehensive
information concerning a tunnel’s environment, structure and past and current
performance. This requires skilful and conscientious research and organisation, and
management of existing and new data, which will be discussed in the following sections. Deferral of maintenance

Where maintenance and repair is unduly deferred, this may have negative impact on the
efficiency and economy of tunnel management as well as a temporary reduction in tunnel
performance and serviceability. Deferral of essential maintenance may require interim
measures to ensure the continuing safety of the tunnel and its users, for instance
restrictions on capacity or requirements for extra monitoring and special inspections. In
certain circumstances the deferral of maintenance may be unavoidable due, for example,
to operational or budgetary constraints, or it may be justifiable in terms of perceived
benefit. In either case, the implications of maintenance deferral should be assessed,
particularly any potential impact on tunnel safety and serviceability. Minimising disruption from tunnel maintenance

It is vital to minimise disruption to the normal service from management activities,

including carrying out condition assessments, maintenance and repairs because tunnels
can have a considerable influence on the operation of the whole infrastructure. For certain
types of infrastructure, costs associated with access and necessary disruption to service may
account for most of the total cost of such activities. Because of this the need to ensure
continuity of service and minimise disruption is often the overriding influence in the
selection of maintenance and repair schemes, and planning and programming are key
elements in the success of any works carried out. Tunnel closures need to be planned in
detail to ensure best use of the time available. Where access is at a premium, it is advisable
to co-ordinate all foreseeable inspection, investigation, repair, maintenance, renewal and
other works to the tunnel structure and associated equipment (drainage, mechanical and
electrical systems, ventilation and pumping systems etc). Where necessary, diversions of
traffic or services should be planned in advance and carefully managed.

For tunnels that depend on the function of mechanical and electrical systems (for
example, road tunnels) the optimal maintenance period of the tunnel structure may be
influenced by the maintenance period or serviceable life of these systems. For example, in
a road tunnel a 20-year frequency of structural refurbishment may be desirable, given the
18-year nominal design life of tunnel fans and lighting given by Highways Authority
standard BD53 (HA, 1995). Disruption to tunnel services can be minimised by planning
and co-ordinating maintenance and refurbishment/repair activities in this way (Rock and
Ireland, 2005).


3.5.1 Tunnel information requirements

Comprehensive knowledge of an asset is fundamental to its effective management. Tunnel

owners should make efforts to collect and collate all existing information on their tunnel
assets, and to store this information safely in a form that can be accessed by those who
might need it - including asset managers, engineers, consultants, maintainers and repair
contractors. Tunnel inventory asset files should be established and managed as an
important element of the infrastructure. Asset files may be maintained in either hard copy

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 73

or electronic format (and preferably both) in a database where information on the
structure, its condition, maintenance needs and management plan can be stored for later

In tunnels built since the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2007, there
exists a legal requirement to produce a health and safety file and store it so as to allow
easy access and retrieval of information. In certain circumstances this may also be a
requirement for older tunnels. Compliance is typically achieved by integrating this
information as part of an asset management system. The health and safety file should

 a description of the work carried out

 residual hazards and how they have been dealt with
 main structural principles
 any hazards associated with materials used
 information regarding the removal or dismantling of installed plant and equipment
 health and safety information about cleaning and maintenance equipment
 the nature, location and marking scheme of significant services (eg fire services)
 information and as-built drawings of the structure, its plant and equipment.

For older infrastructure, where there is no health and safety file, it is important that
comparable data is collated and held in a tunnel register to perform a similar function,
and also to provide additional information for optimising the efficiency of management
and maintenance of the tunnel. A tunnel register should ideally include, but not
necessarily be limited to, the following:

 unique tunnel identifiers (name, number)

 location data (map reference, road/route details, land-use within zone of influence)
 owner and maintaining agent
 tunnel age, type, form of construction, main structural elements and materials, length
and dimensions
 construction history and special features, for example, areas where difficult tunnelling
conditions were encountered, changes in tunnel profile, lining materials or thickness,
presence or absence of an invert (either from available historical records or inferred
from more recent observation and investigation)
 presence and location of shafts (known or suspected) or other features that might
present special risks or require particular management actions
 local geological, hydrological and environmental data
 details of tunnel use (eg traffic frequency, types and speeds)
 performance data (eg capacity, any restrictions on serviceability)
 details of tunnel interface and interaction with other parts of the infrastructure
 access information for all parts of the tunnel with methods and details of any special
access requirements
 hazard identification/risk log
 copies of registers of known hazardous materials, eg asbestos registers
 emergency planning information (emergency access, escape plans, contacts etc)
 details of outside parties and activities that may affect the tunnel, eg piling works over
or adjacent to the tunnel.

 current inspection results and history of previous inspections, investigations,
assessments and condition appraisals
 history of maintenance, repairs and other works, including any health and safety files
produced from works carried out in compliance with CDM Regulations
 schedules for planned inspections, maintenance and repairs
 information on tunnel equipment and services
 details of services either carried in or close to the tunnel with up-to-date emergency
contact numbers etc maintained (eg local water authorities to be contacted in case of a
sudden increase of water ingress to the tunnel)
 any statutory designations or restrictions (eg listed status or environmental
 historical records and documentation (drawings, articles etc) including details of sources
 other information (eg incidents such as flooding, emergency incidents).

Compiling comprehensive tunnel data is likely to result in voluminous records. Strict

procedures should be established for the management and maintenance of this data to
ensure that the most appropriate and up-to-date information is available and identified.
Electronic information can be managed and manipulated with computer-based asset
management software, which provides an opportunity to make more effective use of
existing knowledge, but given past experience with data recording and storage formats, it
is important to take steps to guard against obsolescence and ensure that data remains
readily accessible and usable. Further information on the development of tunnel records is
given in a paper by the International Tunnelling Association (ITA, 1987).

3.5.2 Tunnel management systems

Asset knowledge on tunnels should be collected, stored, managed and retrieved

throughout their service life. As the asset experiences deterioration and local failures,
planned rehabilitations, routine maintenance, upgrades, modifications and other
associated activities need to be recorded. Databases are ideal tools for such tasks, and these
should be integrated as part of the tunnel management system (TMS). The TMS
comprises a framework that allows efficient organisation of tunnel maintenance, including
activities such as information management, condition appraisal and maintenance and
repair planning, which can be used to inform, guide and support management decisions.
A TMS stores information on individual tunnels that it can use to carry out a variety of
engineering and economic assessments. It can be a powerful tool for owners, providing
assistance on organisational policy, adhering to statutory requirements, making, recording
and justifying management decisions, determining the best use of limited resources, and
formulating and presenting business cases for obtaining funding.

It is important to appreciate that even the most sophisticated management systems rely on
the quality and integrity of available data. Inadequate or inaccurate data is likely to lead to
poor management decisions, whereas good quality data allows more effective and efficient
management of the tunnel stock. It is important that such systems are easy to update with
new information and to maintain.

3.5.3 Tunnel identification and referencing systems

It is desirable that tunnel assets and sub-assets are identified by a unique number or code,
ideally with number or code plates attached directly to the asset for ease of identification

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 75

In many types of infrastructure, systems for longitudinal measurement (along railway
lines, pipelines, canals, major roads etc) are already in place and can be used for this
purpose, but it is also necessary to record accurately the location of features around the
circumference of the tunnel. This can be done by reference to the structural form of the
tunnel, using descriptive words such as sidewalls, haunches, soffit, crown etc. There are
benefits in using a grid system that divides the tunnel longitudinally and circumferentially
into regular sections so that features can be assigned to an individual cell on the grid. This
method is particularly suited to recording information on an electronic database. The
optimum size of the cells will vary according to the size and nature of the tunnel and the
type of activities it is to be used for. For example, in the 1980s British Waterways went
through a process of marking up the intrados of all their tunnels with a 1 m spaced grid.
Although this required a significant initial expenditure of resources, it has since proved a
valuable aid to tunnel management and in particular to tunnel inspection and
specification of repairs.

3.5.4 Managing risk

The purpose of the risk assessment process is to systematically identify significant risks,
allowing prioritisation of actions to minimise and manage them. Risk assessment
procedures can be applied by asset managers to ensure that both performance and safety
objectives are met within a business framework and that funds are justified and allocated
in response to safety and business needs.

The need for risk assessment of tunnel assets arises principally to satisfy statutory safety
obligations, as discussed in Section 3.6.1. These regulations require that hazards are
identified and assessed and that adequate levels of safety are maintained/assured. A
tolerable level of risk can be identified, above which measures are to be used to ensure
that risks are reduced to as low as is reasonably practicable (ALARP). Reasonably
practicable is interpreted in law to mean that safety measures should be undertaken unless
the cost, in terms of money, time and trouble, is grossly disproportionate to the safety
benefit. All of the principal transport infrastructure owners and operators have asset
management processes that encompass such risk assessment procedures.

Examples of safety hazards that might be considered, along with possible risk reduction
measures for existing tunnels, are given in Table 3.2.

The ALARP principle allows that safety improvements should not be pursued at any cost
and only if the cost of averting the risk is not grossly disproportionate to the risk averted.
However, relative to other elements of the infrastructure the typically high replacement
value of tunnel assets and their criticality to operations may influence what is considered
reasonable in terms of minimising risks or recovering from accidents (for example, after a
fire or partial collapse).

The Standing Committee on Structural Safety (SCOSS), an independent body that

maintains a continuing review of building and civil engineering matters affecting the
safety of structures, is a further source of information concerning the assessment and
control of risk <>.

Table 3.2 Examples of hazards and risk mitigation measures for tunnels

Hazard Risk mitigation measures

 principal means of risk mitigation is by condition appraisal, particularly carrying

out regular visual inspections at an adequate frequency to identify signs of
structural distress
Structural instability
 use of appropriate monitoring systems and instrumentation
 adequate routine maintenance (and, where necessary, repair) of structurally
sensitive elements reduces the risk of structural instability.

 likelihood of impact reduced by considering vehicle use and adequate

clearances, or providing high-visibility signage where appropriate
Accidental impacts (due to road,  consequences reduced by ensuring appropriate vehicle-strike response
water or rail vehicles) procedures (reporting and response system, emergency tunnel closures and
engineering assessments), by frequent inspection and possibly by
reinforcement of vulnerable elements.

 main control measure is through the use of fire-retardant materials in construction

Fire (from plant or services  consequence reduced by using fire preparedness plans
contained in the tunnel or  consequence reduced by using and installing fire protection systems, training
vehicles or goods transported staff and involving the fire services
through the tunnel or external  likelihood of fire reduced by controlling access, vehicle use and embargos on
events) materials carried through the tunnel
 consequences reduced by installation of dry/wet mains.

 likelihood reduced by restrictions on development within areas that can

influence the tunnel
Adjacent construction  regular walkover surveys above the tunnel to identify changes in land-use and
(boreholes, piles etc) development that might affect the tunnel
 consequences reduced by analysis and monitoring of the tunnel and adjacent
ground during any permitted construction works.

Flooding (direct, from failure of  likelihood reduced through adequate inspection and condition appraisals being
sealants, raised groundwater carried out
pressure or partial collapse of  consequence reduced by enforcing emergency preparedness plans
tunnel, or indirect from entry at  consequence reduced by the installation of emergency pumps and detection
portals etc) equipment.

 using increased security measures

Explosion (from internal or
external sources)  as with the risk from fire by controlling access, vehicle use and embargos on
materials carried through the tunnel.

3.5.5 Whole-life asset costs

In new construction, whole-life costing (WLC) provides a rational basis for decision
making, allowing comparison of a variety of alternative construction schemes and aiding
the selection of one that is most economical or appropriate to the current or expected
financial position. For new structures a suitable design life may be specified that will allow
replacement/refurbishment in a planned manner and provide a basis for making decisions
on the optimum timing and extent of maintenance works. Similar principles can
potentially be applied to the maintenance of existing structures to assist with comparison
of alternative maintenance and repair schemes. In practice it is more difficult to set up a
reliable model, particularly where structures are expected to have a long (or even
indefinite) life, such as tunnels, because the long-term requirements, the likely frequency
of expenditure and an appropriate future discount rate are difficult to estimate. Also there
is a need to consider the specific infrastructure requirements, which will tend to dominate
the maintenance costs. For example, if rail possessions or traffic management programmes
are required, they will distort the relative merits/costs of maintenance/repair methods.
Determining and including such factors with adequate weighting can present further
problems. There is a risk that whole-life cost models can become overcomplicated, but on
the other hand if they are too simplistic this may defeat the whole object of the exercise
and their results may be misleading.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 77

The most appropriate and realistic discount rate to apply is a contentious issue, because
this has a significant influence on the results, particularly when considering long-term
assets such as tunnels. The discount rates now recommended by HM Treasury and
applied in the public sector can mitigate against tunnel maintenance activities, because
they show a worse rate of return than delaying tunnel replacement and major
refurbishment. The danger is that this could potentially lead to an unfeasibly large
requirement for tunnel replacements in the future, which may be unsustainable in terms
of demands on resources and the disruption to transport and distribution networks.

Despite these challenges whole-life costing represents a rational approach to evaluating

alternative maintenance and repair strategies and, in certain circumstances, could
potentially provide a useful framework for helping to consider these complex issues where
they relate to tunnels, so long as its limitations are recognised. Some major transport
infrastructure owners are now developing life cycle asset management tools based on
whole-life costing principles, for example, Network Rail’s STAMP (structures asset
management process), which recognises that deterioration of assets is inevitable without
intervention, and seeks to model that deterioration and the consequences of alternative
maintenance strategies available.



3.6.1 Health and safety management

Working in tunnels can be dangerous and regulations and practical measures exist to
ensure the safety of those working on them and members of the public who may use them
or be affected by them. Owners and operators of tunnels have obligations to maintain
assets in a safe condition to protect employees, those not in their employment and the
environment from unreasonable or unacceptable risks so far as is reasonably practicable.
These obligations arise from statute or licence conditions, and also from responsibilities
under common law duty of care, and have a significant impact on asset management
policy and operational procedures. All major tunnel owners and operators have internal
asset management policies and procedures that provide a framework for satisfactorily
fulfilling these obligations. Health and safety and environmental management
considerations with particular relevance to tunnels are discussed in the following sections.

Risks associated with loss of tunnel performance or collapses are managed by the process
of condition assessment, maintenance and repair, which is the principal subject of this
document. Carrying out maintenance, repair, refurbishment and reconstruction works
presents a range of hazards, including:

1 Risks to tunnel users and members of the public. In some situations it may be
necessary to carry out work in areas where a tunnel is not entirely closed to use or
where members of the public are near and might be affected. Risks are also presented
where works might trigger structural instability or collapse, which might affect people
or other structures within the tunnel’s potential zone of influence (see Section 2.7.1).
Safe systems of work should consider the safety of the public as well as workers.
2 Inherent hazards of the environment. The confined nature of tunnels makes them
potentially hazardous worksites requiring, for example, working in or near a live road
or rail traffic environment, working over or near water, working in confined spaces,
exposure to risks from falling objects or materials, working at height, exposure to
noise and vibration and use of access equipment – with all the hazards associated with
such conditions. The poor, dark and wet conditions that may be present in some types

of tunnel can lead to increased risk from normal worksite hazards such as slipping
and tripping, and the presence of vermin or waste material may lead to biological
hazards, including leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease).
3 Exposure to hazardous materials. These may be included in the fabric of the tunnel
or services contained therein (eg asbestos), be used in carrying out works (eg chemical
treatments), or arise in the course of carrying out works (eg dust, fumes and
poisonous or flammable gases). Gas testing and ventilation are fundamental
considerations, including the risk of methane migration into tunnel voids, and the
potential for build-up of fumes from generators and other equipment to be used in
the works (Swannel, 2003). Planning for works should include an assessment of such
hazards and the need for temporary ventilation and atmospheric monitoring.
4 Use of plant and equipment. As with any other civil engineering work, there are risks
associated with the use of heavy plant, such as cranes and excavators, light plant, such
as generators, and hand-held tools, such as angle-grinders. Special access equipment
and scaffolding is often required, and this can also introduce hazards to the work.
5 Risk from fire or explosion. Works within tunnels may require the use of equipment
that could make operation potentially hazardous such as the use of cutting gear or
petrol/diesel driven plant. Associated problems could include the movement and
storage of flammable materials (including gas bottles) and their inclusion in
temporary or permanent works. Additionally, local concentrations of flammable
natural gases may be present and should be checked for in confined spaces, and the
use of intrinsically safe electrical equipment may be required. It is necessary to
identify and assess the risks from potential fire hazards and adhere to the same
policies on fire precautions as during other construction work.
6 Means of escape and emergency access. Many of the normal hazards associated with
carrying out works on surface structures are potentially more dangerous in enclosed
tunnel environments because of the limited means and routes of escape, possible
distance to points of egress, problems with communications and difficulties for access
of emergency services should accidents occur. So it is particularly important that safety
and emergency procedures are considered, adequate provisions are made and all
parties are suitably briefed before beginning any potentially hazardous activities
within a tunnel.

The potential hazards associated with any work should be identified and risks carefully
managed so far as is reasonably practicable to reduce them to an acceptable level and to
comply with statutory requirements. Industry guidance and standards are available to
assist in complying with these requirements, in particular BS 6164 (BSI, 2001c). Note that
such publications will not reflect changes made to legislation and industry practice since
their publication or most recent revision.

The comfort and welfare of staff involved in inspections, investigations, maintenance and
any other tunnel works should be considered and adequately provided for, not only to
satisfy health and safety requirements but also to assist them in carrying out their work to
a high standard and improving the quality of the results (as discussed in Section 4.3.5).
Those carrying out works in tunnels should be physically fit, properly trained to a
certified standard, suitably experienced and have a good understanding of basic tunnel
safety requirements (see Section 3.6.2 on Competence).

Those involved with planning and executing inspections should be aware of the relevant
health and safety hazards to individuals and the environment and, at a minimum, ensure
that they are dealt with in accordance with statutory requirements. Risk assessments
should be carried out to ensure that hazards are identified, risks are assessed and where
necessary measures taken to minimise risks to acceptable levels. Inspectors should always

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 79

be alert, and aware of procedures to be followed and people to be contacted in case of
emergencies. This can be assisted by the preparation of a method statement for the works,
which is a formal requirement of many of the larger infrastructure owners. If a safe system
of work that mitigates all risks cannot be generated due to a lack of information, then
sufficient investigation should be carried out to supply that information. For example, this
could mean further desk study research, a reconnaissance visit/walkthrough of the tunnel
or a preliminary investigation with its scope limited to safely obtaining the necessary

Owners of infrastructure should have their own health and safety management systems to
allow them to meet legal requirements. Also to complying with their own safety
management systems, consultants and contractors should adhere to the owner’s systems
when carrying out any work on-site. When construction work is being carried out on an
operational site that is under the control of the owner, co-ordination may be necessary to
clarify who is in control of the work area. The CDM Regulations 2007 (HSE, 2007) include
requirements relating to the control of construction work.

A comprehensive description of current health and safety legislation can be found in Tyler
and Lamont (2005). However, it should be remembered that legislation is liable to change
and it is the responsibility of those involved in the management of tunnels and tunnel
works to ensure that current legislation is adhered to.

3.6.2 Competence and training of staff

BS 6164 (BSI, 2001c) includes advice on the competence of staff as follows:

“The most vital contribution to health and safety in any tunnelling operation is
through competent engineers and managers, and a competent workforce.
Competence is gained through a combination of training and experience. All
persons underground should be competent for the environment in which they are
working and for the work tasks and activities they are required to carry out.
Engineers, managers and supervisors should be competent both with respect to the
work under construction, and in the techniques of management, communications
and supervision. Evidence of competence such as the achievement of recognised
qualifications should be sought.”

It is a legal requirement for all persons at work to be given appropriate training in health
and safety related to the risks they might encounter at work. This may require specialist
training for first-aides, those operating plant and machinery or working in hazardous
environments such as confined spaces. Induction training should be given before any
person starts work underground, whether as a new employee or as a person new to a
particular project because the specific hazards of working in tunnels may vary from those
associated with working in other environments. Longstanding employees are particularly
vulnerable because the familiarity and routine that come with experience may lead to a
false sense of security and increase risk. Refresher training should be provided at suitable

It is particularly important that people working in tunnels are physically fit to carry out
their work in this environment, and that any health problems or disabilities do not
constitute a hazard to themselves or those around them. To this end, some companies
carry out regular medical assessments of their employees and require that they be
certified as fit to work in tunnel environments.

For safety-critical tasks and in certain industries it may be a requirement to demonstrate
continuing competence through periodic reassessment.

3.6.3 Heritage conservation

The heritage authorities have a general duty to conserve the built heritage, and works on
tunnels or parts of tunnels with recognised historic value. Those within certain areas that
have special environmental protection may require their consultation and co-operation:.
The authorities are:

1 English Heritage.
2 Historic Scotland.
3 Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Services.
4 Cadw (the historic environment agency of the Welsh Assembly Government).

Very few tunnels are protected as listed structures but many can be considered as being of
historic importance. However many tunnel portals and tunnel-related structures are listed
under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 for England and
Wales (and equivalent legislation elsewhere in the UK) and are subject to statutory
controls. Tunnels may also be afforded protection under a variety of designations of the
land where they are sited, for instance as a conservation area, Site of Special Scientific
Interest (SSSI), Special Area for Conservation (SAC) or National Parks (see Section 3.6.4).

These designations highlight the need for a special approach to the management and
conservation of existing structures, and frequently indicate special statutory protection
and restrictions on any works that may affect them or the surrounding land. Works that
affect only the settings of listed or Scheduled Ancient Monument structures do not require
listed building consent or Scheduled Ancient Monument consent, but setting is a material
consideration in planning applications.

Where a tunnel’s historic value is recognised by some form of statutory designation, such
as listed building status, this is likely to have a significant effect on the options available for
maintenance and repair works, particularly those affecting the original fabric or
historically significant alterations. Such works require careful and co-operative
management. Such works should be carried out in a manner that is sensitive to the
tunnel’s important historic features, and with the advice and consent of the relevant
heritage bodies.

The Panel for Historical Engineering Works (PHEW) is an advisory body run by the ICE
that has a database of works of an historic nature including tunnels. Although not
mandatory it is recommended that their advice should be sought in any matter that relates
to the repair or alteration of what might be an historic tunnel.

3.6.4 Environmental conservation

Infrastructure owners have statutory obligations in respect of the environment and these
have to be reflected within their asset management policy. Also to these statutory
requirements there are various other reasons why it is in the interest of tunnel owners to
consider the environmental aspects of their tunnels. Asset owners are already taking steps
to satisfy their obligations in these respects by the formulation of environmental policies
and action plans, with a requirement to carry out environmental audits on infrastructure

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 81 Conservation bodies and environmental legislation

Works associated with tunnels and associated infrastructure may affect protected sites or
protected species. The nature conservation bodies (known as the Statutory Nature
Conservation Organisations or SNCOs) have responsibility for promoting the conservation
of wildlife and natural features:

1 Natural England.
2 Scottish Natural Heritage.
3 Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service.
4 Countryside Council for Wales.

There are various categories of sites with designations for environment and conservation
(both statutory and non-statutory) at international, national, regional or local level that
can affect tunnels. These designations afford varying levels of protection and carry with
them restrictions on the types of activities that can take place, which are likely to have a
significant influence on any works undertaken within them. They stipulate procedures
that should be followed for notifying relevant authorities and gaining permissions to
undertake any work. This should be considered from the start of a project, and may have
significant effect on the selection of works and method of working, and also on the
programming and cost of works. For example:

 under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, operations on Sites of Special Scientific
Interest (SSSI) must be agreed with the appropriate SNCO, and species listed as
protected must not be killed or have their habitat damaged without a licence. Special
consideration must be given to any work on such sites to minimise disruption to
habitats and employ environmentally friendly methods of working
 under the Habitat Regulations, 1994, SNCOs can permanently ban operations that
they consider may damage SAC (special areas for conservation) or SPA (special
protection area) designated sites. Although appeals can be made, these must be on the
basis that the works are for imperative reasons of overriding public interest and that
no alternative solutions exist. Where appeals are granted, compensatory works are
likely to be required, ie the creation of suitable replacement habitat that should ideally
be ecologically functional before the original habitat is damaged.

Where work may visibly affect protected sites, for instance on the land above the tunnel or
at the portal areas, this may require the involvement and permission from the relevant
SNCO. Although work within tunnels may not be externally visible, it still has the
potential to cause environmental damage either directly, through pollution or the
disturbance and destruction of wildlife habitats and species, or indirectly through its
effects on the local environment (eg changes in the local hydrological regime).

The ethos underpinning EU environmental legislation is the precautionary principle ie

that prevention is better than cure and that it is important to prevent foreseeable acts of
environmental damage. The continual review of legislation to ensure that good practice is
always followed should become part of the design process. For example, the actions
required to prevent pollution during construction are usually relatively easy and cheap to
do compared with the cost of the clean-up if pollution occurs. It is particularly important
to take measures to prevent pollution where tunnels pass near watercourses or through

Newton et al (2004) provides a useful summary of wildlife legislation and planning guidance
relevant to the UK construction industry, and how it affects those involved with construction.

82 Wildlife conservation

Tunnels can provide habitats for a variety of flora and fauna, including bats, birds,
amphibians, reptiles, insects and small mammals. The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981
(as amended) and the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, 2000 afford protection to
certain endangered species of wildlife, and the presence of certain species of plants and
animals can have a profound effect on routine maintenance and repair works. Seeking
ecological advice at an early stage in a project that might affect protected species or their
habitats is important in determining and mitigating the potential impacts, and may avoid
serious repercussions to progress and budget.

The major infrastructure owners typically recognise the value of wildlife on their land and
work with the SNCOs to manage protected habitats. The preservation and management
of wildlife habitats should be incorporated into the asset management plans for structures,
and reflect overall environmental management targets. To this end, the major
infrastructure owners employ environmental management staff as part of management
teams to assist with determining environmental policy and to liaise with other specialists in
measuring and achieving environmental targets.

For more detailed information about protected flora and fauna useful reference sources are:

 CIRIA C587 Working with wildlife (Newton et al, 2004)

 CIRIA C502 Environmental good practice on site (Coventry and Woolveridge, 1999a)
 Defra <>.

All tunnel works should include consideration of the potential presence of bats and other
protected species (see Box 3.1). Managing environmental impact

Environmental aspects to be considered in management and maintenance of tunnels


 consumption of limited resources (materials, energy)

 air, noise and water pollution
 soil and waste
 discharge of water from the tunnel
 visual impact
 flora and fauna.

Where the environment and sustainability are concerned, construction and development
are particularly sensitive issues. Environmental appraisals are now mandatory elements of
the planning and design of new transport routes, but are less commonly considered for
the maintenance and repair of existing infrastructure. Environmental legislation, coupled
with a greater understanding of the potential impact of construction activities, is leading to
the incorporation of environmental concepts and aims as a core policy of national and
local authorities. Efforts are being made to develop methodologies for assessing and
comparing the real environmental impact of alternative infrastructure management
policies. A good example of such an approach is given in Steele et al (2003) where a life

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 83

Box 3.1 Dealing with bats

Old tunnels, as well as shafts and adits, are a favourite roosting place of bats, which are strictly
protected by UK and EU law due to their rapidly declining numbers. They inhabit both rural and urban
sites and are easily disturbed by maintenance and repair works. Both English Nature and the
Countryside Council for Wales have highlighted damage and losses to bat populations associated with
the routine maintenance and demolition of old structures.
The Bat Conservation Trust summaries bat legislation in their Professional Support Series leaflets, and
as follows:
 the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provides protection for all bats and their roosts and requires
consultation with English Nature before carrying out activities that might harm or disturb bats
and/or roosts
 the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 adds the word reckless (in England and Wales) to the
offence of disturbing a bat or damaging/destroying a place a bat uses for shelter of rest (ie a bat
roost). This is important legislation because it protects bats and roosts from reckless and/ or
international disturbance/damage
 under the EC Habitats Directive it is considered an offence to damage or destroy a breeding site or
resting place of any bat, or to deliberately capture, kill or disturb a bat. Most development and
maintenance works affecting bats and/or roosts require a habitats regulations licence that must be
applied for and obtained from the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Activities such as repointing and repair of masonry may result in the disturbance of bats and loss of the
cracks and crevices necessary for roosting and hibernation, which may be illegal under the above
legislation. In some circumstances licences may be obtained from DEFRA to permit actions affecting
bats or their roosts that are normally prohibited by law, but it will be necessary to demonstrate that the
proposed works are necessary for public health or safety, or for reasons of overriding public interest.
Applicants must demonstrate that there is no satisfactory alternative and suitable mitigation measures
are likely to be required, including restrictions on the timing of works, protection of existing roosts or the
provision of alternative roosts. There is likely to be a requirement to monitor the bats and the adequacy
of the mitigation measures, and this may take considerable time. It is advisable to seek the services of
a professional environmental consultant with appropriate experience at an early stage of planning when
considering works that might affect bats or their roosts.
Where provision of alternative roosts is required, a variety of proprietary bat-boxes and other artificial
roosts are available for such uses, including bat bricks which can be included at suitable locations within
a masonry lining (Figure 3.4). When considering the use of such artificial roosts it is important that
expert advice from a bat specialist is sought to assist with their selection and location.

Figure 3.4
Proprietary bat brick artificial roost and suggested
locations for installation (courtesy Norfolk Bat Group)

Where tunnels are to be closed and portals blocked, the presence of bats is likely to require inclusion
of suitable measures for allowing their continued access and egress.
Bat mitigation guidelines (Mitchell-Jones, 2004) have been published by English Nature, and include
detailed guidance on bats, their habitats, bat surveys and acceptable mitigation plans for development
and construction, with case studies that may be useful to those who have to deal with bat-occupied
Further guidance is included in:
 Bats in buildings (SNH, 2004)
 Bats, development and planning in England (BCT, 2002)
 Nature conservation in relation to bats (HA, 1999).

cycle assessment (LCA) approach has been applied to the management of a masonry arch

A detailed consideration of the topics of managing environmental impact and

sustainability is beyond the scope of this publication, but reference should be made to
existing good practice guidance, for example:

 CIRIA C502 Environmental good practice on site (Coventry and Woolveridge, 1999a) for
practical advice on environmental responsibilities when planning and executing civil
engineering works and how to fulfil them satisfactorily.
 CIRIA C571 Sustainable construction procurement (Addis and Talbot, 2001) includes
advice on successful techniques and strategies for delivering construction projects that
encourage environmental responsibility.
 BRE IP14/04 Environmental sustainability in bridge management (Steele, 2004) sets out a
method of considering environmental sustainability in bridge management, many of
the concepts of which could be applied to the management of tunnels.

Choice of materials
The choice of materials used for the maintenance, repair and construction can not only
affect the local environment but can contribute towards effects on the wider environment.
With the exception of some renewable sources, all energy sources and processes requiring
the use of energy release CO2 into the atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas and is
implicated in climate change, which affects the species, habitats and built environment
around us. The production and processing of new materials inevitably requires energy
and may have other environmental impacts, eg noise, pollution and land-use. Careful
consideration of the relative environmental impact of alternative materials used in
maintenance and repair can provide environmental benefits. For example, for equivalent
quantities of lime and cement mortars, lime production uses between 47 and 70 per cent
of the energy needed for cement production, with corresponding reductions in emission
of pollutants (Pritchett, 2003). Although the LCA of materials is often not straightforward.
With results that are subject to uncertainties and dependent on many assumptions, the
process provides a logical framework for helping asset managers consider alternative
strategies for achieving environmental objectives.

Waste, re-use and recycling

Waste affects the environment in several ways: loss of valuable resources, need for landfill
space, and the unnecessary production of additional materials. It may also lead to
unnecessary pollution. Wherever practicable, original materials should be re-used unless
they have already proven unsuitable or are in a state such that they are unlikely to provide
adequate performance. Where original materials are unavailable or unsuitable, used and
recycled materials that are not a part of the original structure may be considered, and
sourced locally wherever feasible, to reduce the demand for production and transport of
new materials. Where waste is unavoidable, measures should be taken to avoid pollution
and minimise its environmental impact.

Good practical guidance on waste minimisation and recycled materials can be found in:

 CIRIA C513 The reclaimed and recycled materials handbook (Coventry et al, 1999b), which
summarises the opportunities for re-using and recycling materials with information
on their properties, performance, specification and use
 CIRIA SP133 Waste minimisation in construction – site guide (Guthrie et al, 1997) is aimed
at construction workers to illustrate practical ways that they can help minimise waste
on site.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 85

Prevention and control of pollution
Although a consideration of the consequences of pollution immediately bring to mind
contamination of the air, water and soil, the impact of noise pollution and other less
tangible, transient and indirect consequences of carrying out works should also be

When working on tunnels it is important to prevent materials from entering groundwater

where they can cause pollution problems, and suitable mitigation measures should be
incorporated into the working methods. This is especially important where potential
pollutants and hazardous materials are being used, or where tunnel works might affect
watercourses, aquifers and sensitive ecological sites. Activities such as injection of chemical
grouts or other materials containing potentially hazardous components into the ground
around the annulus of tunnels present a particularly high level of risk, and in the past
pollution incidents from such activities have had severe consequences for workers, the
public and the local environment (for example, see the section on the Hallandsås Tunnel
in Case study A1.18). Particular care should be exercised when using materials, such as
chemical grouts, which rely on the mixing of two or more components. In some the fully
combined and reacted end-product is environmentally innocuous, but the individual
components themselves may be highly toxic with potentially severe consequences if
unreacted material enters the environment.

Airborne pollution may also present a hazard, particularly where work may involve the
generation of dusts or gases, the use of sprays, or directly or indirectly involve the
disturbance of hazardous materials such as asbestos, requiring suitable hazard
identification and risk assessment, and may be subject to specific controls under relevant

It is equally important that the general operation of the tunnel does not affect the
environment. In particular, discharge of ingress water from tunnel sumps and pumping
stations from transport tunnels. The otherwise clean groundwater may become
contaminated within the tunnel from pollutants arising as a result of the nature of the
traffic using the tunnel, ie contamination by hydrocarbons (oils, diesel and petrol spillages
etc) from road vehicles.

Under the Environmental Protection Act (1990) it is an offence to deliberately or

accidentally pollute controlled waters (all watercourses, lakes, lochs, coastal waters and
groundwater) and any discharges into them require consent from the relevant
environmental agency. Other waste produced on construction sites is subject to the duty of
care under the Environmental Protection Act, 1990 and may be subject to control under
the Waste Management Licensing Regulations, 1994 (separate legislation applies in
Northern Ireland).

Detailed guidance on water pollution is given in CIRIA C532 (Masters-Williams et al,

2001), which identifies potential sources of water pollution from within construction sites
and discusses effective methods of preventing its occurrence. Further guidance is given in
the Pollution Prevention Guidelines (PPGs) published by the Environment Agency for
England and Wales and equivalent agencies in Scotland and Northern Ireland, in particular:

 PPG1: General guide to the prevention of pollution (EA, 2001a)

 PPG5: Works in, near or liable to affect watercourses (EA, 2000)
 PPG6: Working at construction and demolition sites (EA, 2001b)
 PPG23: Maintenance of structures over water (EA, 2002)

These are available to download free from <>.

Many of the factors that lead to accidents on normal transport routes, such as road
junctions, blind corners, level crossings and obstacles on railway tracks, are absent in
tunnels. When accidents do occur the confined nature of tunnels makes evacuation and
rescue more difficult and, in particular, a fire that would be a manageable incident
elsewhere can prove to be catastrophic. Several serious fires in tunnels over recent years
have put tunnel safety on the public agenda. This concern is directed towards both road
and rail tunnels. Recent fires in road tunnels resulted in 39 fatalities in the Mont-Blanc
Tunnel (Austria, 1999), 12 fatalities in the Tauern Tunnel (Austria, 1999), and 11 fatalities
in the St-Gotthard Tunnel (Switzerland, 2001). Most recently, in 2005, a fire in the eight
mile long Frejus tunnel linking Italy and France killed two drivers and kept the tunnel
closed for several months. In rail tunnels, fire in a funicular tunnel at Kitzeinhorn
(Austria, 2000) resulted in 155 fatalities and a metro tunnel fire in Daegu (South Korea,
2003) 198 fatalities, the result of an arson attack. Aside from the tragic loss of life, such
incidents can have serious long-term effects on the local infrastructure and reduce public
confidence in the safety of transport systems.

In response to these incidents, recent years have seen new initiatives launched at a variety
of national, European and international levels, involving bodies such as the International
Union of Railways (UIC), the World Road Association (PIARC) and the International
Tunnelling Association (ITA). These international initiatives aim to produce, and where
possible harmonise, safety regulations. In each of the tragedies mentioned, smoke was the
major killer and death tolls could have been lower with improved fire engineering,
including a better understanding of the tunnel structure’s response to fire and better
planning based on the behaviour of people involved in such incidents.

The principal safety risks in transport tunnels are:

 structural collapse
 derailment (of trains).

In tunnel fires, the most important parameters affecting the consequences are:

 risk of vehicles stopping and becoming trapped in the tunnel

 smoke generation, ventilation conditions and dispersal
 time required for evacuation.

In 2001 the UIC published a leaflet outlining recommendations for measures to increase
safety in railway tunnels, covering the fields of infrastructure, rolling stock and operations
(UIC, 2001). The following priorities were agreed, their order reflecting a decreasing
degree of effectiveness, especially in the event of a fire:

1 Prevention.
2 Mitigation.
3 Escape.
4 Rescue.

Recommendations for each of these priorities were made, including elements such as the
inherent technical safety of rail and rolling stock systems, fire suppression systems,

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 87

improved systems for communication between train staff, operations centres and
passengers, emergency and evacuation training for staff, and the provision of escape
plans, routes and aids (such as handrails and signage showing escape routes).

A working group of the ITA has published recommendations for the protection of new
and existing road tunnels from the effects of fire (Russell, 2004). The guidelines include
minimum levels of fire-resistance to ensure structural stability is maintained for a period
of time that will allow safe evacuation, working time for fire and rescue staff, and to
prevent collapse, which could have catastrophic effects both below and above ground. For
achieving this in tunnels with concrete and metallic linings, as well as those including
elements such as anchorages and ceramic tile finishes, the guidance recommends a system
of general thermal protection, although such methods were not considered necessary for
structural linings comprising clay brick masonry or structural stonework.

The protection methods identified included:

 upgrading the fire resistance of the structure

 application of coatings that delay heat transfer to the structure
 construction of secondary linings
 installation of fire protection materials.

Although structural safety is important, smoke and asphyxiation is often the biggest
hazard in tunnel fires and it is important that any materials used are inflammable and do
not give rise to toxic gases when exposed to the extremely high temperatures that can be
generated in such incidents.

In the UK the fire brigade is normally consulted during the design of new tunnels, and
involved in devising suitable fire-fighting methods and evacuation drills for existing ones.

For existing tunnels it is frequently unfeasible to make significant changes to the structure
to improve safety, however improvements may still be made such as updating rolling stock
and taking operational measures. Multi-million euro improvement programmes have
already been initiated by many countries with older tunnels, including Austria, France,
Germany and Switzerland (Muncke and Zuber, 2004).

Detailed information concerning recommendations for tunnel safety and information

concerning tunnel fire risks, prevention and mitigation are beyond the scope of this guide
but for further information readers should refer to the following for current guidance:

 the tunnel safety and tunnel fires working groups of the UIC
 ITA <>
 relevant European Community (EC) directives.

Another organisation promoting and researching tunnel fire safety is UPTUN, with a
collaborative project specifically targeted at ensuring a pan-European approach towards
the improvement of fire safety in European tunnels through the development of new
technologies and procedures <>.

Further guidance is given in Beard and Carvel (2005) particularly Chapter 6 concerning
fire safety in concrete tunnels.

The effect of fire on tunnel structural elements and materials is discussed in Section 2.6.3.


Shafts frequently present an increased burden of maintenance and a variety of problems
for tunnel management. They may present hazards to people and property on the ground
surface through:

 accidental or intentional entry

 gradual movement or sudden collapse of ground (see Figure 3.5)
 presence of gas (which may be combustible or poisonous)
 pollution and loss of water supplies.

They may also present risks to the serviceability and operation of the tunnel, and to any
people and vehicles using it, through:

 unstable material falling into the tunnel

 partial or complete collapse into the tunnel
 changes in loading on the tunnel lining at the shaft eye resulting in lining instability
 collection and diversion of water into the tunnel.

Figure 3.5 Results of collapse of material into an incompletely filled shaft (1909)

Where the presence and location of a shaft is known, these risks may be managed through
a programme of condition assessment, maintenance and repair as for other parts of the
tunnel, but problems occur where:

 access is difficult or impossible (eg shafts are capped at both ends) so shaft condition
cannot be directly assessed
 the adequacy and stability of shaft fill material is unknown.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 89

3.8.1 Shaft identification and location

It is necessary for tunnel managers to take steps to determine the presence and location of
all shafts associated with their tunnels with a suitable degree of confidence, relative to the
potential risk presented to their operations and to the health and safety of their employees
and the public.

A typical procedure for managing the risk from suspected shafts is:

1 Assessment of likelihood of shaft presence.

2 Assessment of potential risks (including determining the zone of influence, see Section
3 Determine location of shaft.
4 Determine specific level of risk.
5 Assess the requirement for risk management.
6 Take action to control any unacceptable risks to acceptable levels.

Strategies and techniques for the location of suspected shafts are discussed in detail in
Appendix A5.

3.8.2 Maintaining shafts

Although tunnel shafts can be considered an additional element or extension of the main
tunnel bore, their management and maintenance can present special challenges, in
particular gaining safe and adequate access for inspections, investigation, maintenance
and repair. Despite the associated difficulties, it is particularly important that the
maintenance of shafts is not neglected or treated as secondary to the maintenance of the
rest of the tunnel, because many of the serious incidents that have occurred in tunnels
have been associated with problems in tunnel shafts (several examples are presented in
Case study A1.18).

The safety and serviceability of any shaft plug, capping or covering must also be
considered where these are present. There are instances where fatalities have arisen as a
consequence of the unavailability of shaft access cover details.

The inspection of shafts, including access and health and safety considerations, is
considered further in Section 4.7.

Shafts and adits may require treatment to achieve one or more of several objectives:

 to prevent accidental or intentional access and falling hazards

 to cut subsidence or collapse of the ground surface
 to control or prevent the escape of gases to the atmosphere
 to control or prevent the collection and transfer of water into the tunnel
 to allow development at the ground surface
 to maintain the linings of unfilled shafts in a safe condition.

Guidance on these treatment methods and discussion of the particular access and health
and safety issues associated with working on shafts is provided in Section 5.6.

3.8.3 Development of land above shafts

If development is planned above a tunnel with shafts, the shafts will need to be made safe
or the area around the shaft left free from development. The diameter of the safety zone
for shafts with uncertain stability depends on expected size, the nature of the surrounding
ground and whether the method of filling or capping is known. Section 2.7.1 discusses the
assessment of the zone of influence of tunnels and shafts.


Although some tunnels are closed because they have reached the end of their serviceable
life and a decision is made not to rehabilitate them, it is often the case that still-serviceable
tunnels are closed because their use is no longer required. Closed tunnels will need to be
decommissioned and managed according to their immediate and potential future
requirements. For example, whether there is the potential for re-commissioning (possibly
for another use) in the future, or whether unchecked deterioration and collapse could
adversely affect adjacent land-use, other structures or services.

For the management of disused tunnels condition appraisal and maintenance work is less
restricted, and maintenance and repair techniques should not suffer from some of the
constraints present in operational tunnels (for example, maintenance of adequate
clearances), but there are many other problems, particularly for the health and safety of
employees and the public:

 where tunnels are partially filled or closed at one or both ends, they may be
considered as confined spaces, with all the additional requirements for safety and
training that entails, unless it can be justified otherwise
 working conditions may be more difficult and hazardous than in operational tunnels,
with water ingress, dirt and rubble, the presence of vermin and biological hazards and
the potential for build-up of harmful gases. Some tunnels become partially flooded or
silted up over time making access particularly difficult
 access for staff and equipment to the portals and through the tunnel may be
problematic if normal means of access are removed or not maintained (eg removal of
rails from rail tunnels, overgrowth of vegetation or deterioration of roadway)
 where a tunnel has deteriorated to a state where it is considered unsafe for normal
access, special precautions and equipment are required to monitor its condition and
carry out any works that may be required.

Tunnels that are closed temporarily, and might be used in the future, need to be
maintained to similar standards as fully operational tunnels so far as the condition of their
structural elements is concerned, although it may be possible to adapt the frequency and
scope of maintenance. If essential maintenance is neglected then structural deterioration
may make it very difficult or uneconomic to return the tunnel to a serviceable state in
future. Deterioration may be more rapid and severe in disused tunnels because of a
reduction in the scope and frequency of inspection, assessment and preventative
maintenance activities and greater tolerance of problems such as water ingress and lack of

Consideration of the potential effect of a tunnel’s structural deterioration on the volume of

ground and area of ground surface within its zone of influence (see Section 2.7.1) is
important. In this case it is necessary to identify any associated risks to people, structures,
services etc and ensure that these are suitably controlled. Typically the tunnel’s structural
integrity should be maintained at an adequate level of standard and safety.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 91

Where the future re-use of a tunnel is highly unlikely, consideration should be given to
the most effective and economical way of mitigating any risks associated with structural
collapse. This will vary according to the location of the tunnel, its depth, proximity to
other structures and services, and the local geological conditions. Structural infilling is the
best long-term solution (see Section 5.6), but there can be technical, logistical and
budgetary reasons why this is not carried out. Where tunnels are infilled, a plentiful
source of cheap but structurally adequate fill material should be sourced and transported
to site, and placed so that the tunnel is structurally supported with no voids because
further access for inspection or remedial work will be impossible. More often, disused
tunnels are inspected and maintained in a similar way to operational tunnels, but with
different and more limited serviceability criteria so they should retain adequate structural
safety to allow the entry of staff for maintenance tasks. This may mean managing a
controlled deterioration while ensuring adequate integrity of the principal structural
elements are achieved at minimum cost because they are not revenue-earning parts of the

Whatever the management objectives for the tunnel, it is often advisable or necessary to
prevent unauthorised access. This may mean sealing the portals and any other possible
entry routes. At the same time, access should be maintained in a state that is adequate for
authorised persons (eg inspectors), for carrying out maintenance and repairs and for
emergency situations. Rather than bricking up portals and incorporating small access
doors, as has been done in the past, secure metal fencing systems can provide a cheaper
and more flexible means of restricting access.

Disused tunnels need to be regularly inspected to control the risk of deterioration and
collapse. Some disused tunnels are open along public pathways and access for inspection is
relatively easy. Other tunnels such as in Monsal Dale in Derbyshire are open on a
restricted basis to authorised guided visits. This again allows inspections to take place to
ensure that the tunnels are not deteriorating past a certain level of safety.

Many disused tunnels are inhabited by bats and possibly by other protected species. This
should be taken into consideration when managing them, particularly when carrying out
remedial work, when considering infilling, or when restricting access at portals and shafts.
These animals should not be disturbed or their habitats damaged, and they should be
allowed adequate means of ingress and egress (see Section

BS 6164 (BSI, 2001) includes methodologies for safe maintenance, renovation and repair
of tunnels, risk control and emergency planning, which may be particularly relevant to
carrying out works in closed and disused tunnels.

4 Condition appraisal

This chapter deals with the condition appraisal of tunnels. In this context, the term
appraisal is used in its broader sense to encompass all the activities undertaken that
determine the adequacy of the tunnel structure to perform its required functions. These
activities can include inspections to determine current tunnel condition and gather data,
site investigations to obtain more specific data, and structural assessments to evaluate the
tunnel’s structural behaviour and, for example, the influence of any changes in loading.

Due to the large number of tunnels in use and their apparent durability, unless the
loading conditions or other key features change, appraisal by inspection is commonly
regarded as sufficient to assess their serviceability and identify any special requirements
for preventative or reactive maintenance and repairs. The main objectives of these
inspections are to establish the condition of the tunnel structure, both in absolute terms
and relative to the information gathered in the previous inspections, and to collect data
necessary for any further assessment required. For example, when a sudden change in
tunnel condition or development of deterioration is observed, or where repairs or
refurbishment works are planned, it may be necessary to support the inspection with
more detailed investigations and assessment of the tunnel’s structural stability and
capacity. Structural assessment may also be required where tunnels are subject to live
loading, such as where highways pass over shallow cut-and-cover tunnels – in which case
they are often assessed as though they were bridges.


Comprehensive and reliable data is a fundamental prerequisite for effective tunnel
management, and information should be readily available in an accessible and usable
format. However, this requirement presents special challenges for tunnel infrastructure,
over and above that typically presented by other types of structure, for example:

 original construction records are often unavailable, or may be inaccurate or

 only the tunnel intrados is visible, and important features are hidden from view
limiting the amount of information that can be gained by visual examination methods
 there may be restrictions on gaining regular access to gather and update data.
Depending on the infrastructure type this may be limited to short duration visits and
may require special provisions for people or vehicle access, lighting, health and safety
 direct inspection of certain parts may require special arrangements, such as inspection
of canal tunnels from boats or drainage of canals or sewer/water services tunnels, the
use of specialist inspection techniques, such as rope-access for shafts or diving for
underwater areas, or the use of remote sensing methods (eg robot CCTV) to limit the
exposure of staff to hazardous situations.

It is particularly important to make best use of opportunities to gather data from a tunnel,
and to ensure that the scope of inspections and investigations is adequate to meet
foreseeable requirements. Return visits to gather missing data are typically costly and may
be unfeasible. Likewise, inaccurate or incomplete data can be worse than no data at all and
the validity of both historic and recent data should be considered before its use. The level

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 93

of checking should be appropriate to the degree of confidence that is required and the
likelihood and potential consequences of inaccuracy.

The principal sources of tunnel information and the types of data typically gathered are
discussed in Appendix A2.


Whatever the type or age of tunnel under consideration, there may be a wealth of existing
information invaluable to understanding its current situation and planning for its
management and maintenance. Sometimes, particularly for newer tunnels, the asset
owner will already have a comprehensive store of information. However, for many older
tunnels the owner’s asset knowledge is, to some degree, incomplete, and useful
information may be held by other sources. A desk study is an efficient way of starting any
investigation, with the potential to gather a lot of information very quickly and easily. It
can also provide information that no amount of costly and intrusive site investigation or
sophisticated analysis can yield, such as records relating to the tunnel’s original design and
construction, and later modifications and repairs.

Existing information may include:

 original construction details (and those of any later repairs or modifications), eg

designs, drawings (particularly as constructed drawings), records of materials and
progress of work
 records of condition and performance in-service (eg old inspection reports)
 local geology, hydrogeology, historic land-use, mining and mineral abstraction maps
and records
 location of services and records of, for example, water abstraction and leakage from
private and public utility companies
 records of construction, operational disruptions, other incidents such as ground
movements, accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Although existing information provides a valuable basis for many tunnel management
activities, it is important that its limitations are recognised and care is taken not to rely on
it without proper verification, particularly where it is used to assist in making important
decisions. Records are often incomplete, or can be misleading due to errors, inaccuracies
or by omission of vital information. For example, instances have been recorded where
tunnels have not been constructed to the design, where the contractor has not provided
the specified thickness of lining or has used alternative materials. Frequently, designs were
altered to suit needs during construction where problems were encountered, for example,
by thickening the lining over short lengths of unstable ground. Also, over the long service
life of many tunnels, original features of construction may have been changed.

Where existing, and particularly historical, information is to be used, a process of

validation is necessary. Whenever using unproven information it is necessary to ask:

1 What is the original source of the information?

2 How was it obtained and what assumptions does it make?
3 Are these assumptions reasonable?
4 Is it logical, does it make sense, and is it what might normally be expected?

5 Can it be easily verified using other available information from a different source?
6 What are the consequences of using this information if it is incorrect?

Wherever possible any information gleaned from existing sources should be verified,
particularly where the reliability of the original source is open to question or where
circumstances might have changed since the data was collected. All information should at
the minimum be subjected to a sense check to ensure that it seems reasonable and does
not conflict with other information on the tunnel. The extent of the validation exercise
should depend on the level of risk associated with the existing data being inaccurate. For
example, when designing repair works that could affect the structural integrity of a tunnel
lining, it would normally be recommended that historic construction records be validated
by direct intrusive investigation to determine critical factors such as lining thickness and
ground contact. Frequently though, factual information can be verified simply by a walk-
over survey of the site or a walk-through of the tunnel. It is normally quicker and more
economical to validate existing information than to start from scratch. Despite the need to
exercise caution, existing historic records are valuable and if treated appropriately can be
used to guide and inform future investigations and assessments.


It is necessary to continually update knowledge on asset condition and performance,
typically by periodic visual inspection supported by simple assessment techniques. Also, it
may be necessary to carry out more in-depth investigations of particular features or
phenomena, and to monitor aspects of tunnel behaviour and performance over time using
more advanced techniques and instrumentation.

Effective inspection requires an understanding of the tunnel structure, its materials,

behaviour and potential causes of deterioration together with knowledge of tell-tale signs
of problems and where to look for them. Effective inspections gather detailed, accurate,
well-presented and objective information to permit others (not directly involved in the
inspection) to understand the problems, draw conclusions and take action where
necessary. Even when no action is taken after an inspection, a complete and objective
record of what was found is vital to permit the next inspection to measure or assess any
deterioration or other changes during the intervening period.

4.3.1 Advantages and limitations of visual inspection

The main advantages of visually-based inspections are that they are simple, rapid, and
relatively inexpensive, do not require any specialist equipment and minimise disruption to
the use of the tunnel. If inspections are carried out by well-trained and sufficiently
knowledgeable staff who regularly inspect the same tunnels, visual inspection can provide
a good indication of tunnel condition and any changes.

Unfortunately, inspection does have weaknesses, the main ones being reliance on visible
features and subjectivity of observations. Typically the only part of a tunnel that is visible
to inspections is its intrados surface. This is particularly a problem in lined tunnels
because the body of the lining, its contact with the ground and the ground are all hidden.
Although the early signs of structural distress and deterioration may manifest themselves
in changes that are visible at the intrados (eg cracking, bulging, loose and fallen material)
certain features, such as lining thickness and voids between its extrados and the ground,
and defects, such as separation between rings of a brick arch lining, may be difficult or
impossible to discern from visual inspection alone. Also, important but visually subtle
changes to the tunnel intrados may be overlooked or perceived as inconsequential,
particularly where more dramatic defects are present, even though these may be

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 95

longstanding and of less importance. Whether such symptoms are seen and recorded
depends on the skill, knowledge and diligence of the inspection staff and their familiarity
with the tunnel. Lack of continuity of inspectors or in inspection methods can lead to
reduction in the effectiveness of inspections and confidence in results.

The usefulness of visual inspection is very reliant on the quality of records kept, which
should provide accurate and comprehensive details of condition and defects. This is
discussed further in Section 4.3.5.

The application of new and emerging survey and monitoring techniques holds some
promise for the development of more objective intelligent inspection methods in future
(see Section 7.2). However, there are steps that may be taken at the present time to
optimise inspection procedures and the quality of results (see Section 4.3.5).

4.3.2 Types of visual inspection and inspection intervals

The regime of tunnel inspection should ensure that any deterioration in the condition is
detected in good time to allow remedial action. The intervals between inspections are
typically specified by tunnel-owning organisations to satisfy compliance with their
statutory obligations and internal policies. The requirements for inspection are set out in
internal standards. For some of the main UK infrastructure owners these are:

 for Network Rail (NR) tunnels, examination types, requirements and intervals are set
out in Railway Group Standard GC/RT5100 Safe management of structures, which is
supported by several other standards
 at the time of writing, London Underground (LU) tunnels, inspection types,
requirements and intervals are set out in Engineering Standard E3701 Structural assets
inspection but this is in process of being replaced by Standard 2-01304-006
 the requirements of the Highways Agency (HA) for road tunnel inspections and
inspection intervals are set out in BD 53/95 (HA, 1995). At the time of writing, BD53
is under review for updating. The EU Directive on road tunnel safety became UK law
in April 2006 and requires independent inspections every six years by an inspection
 the requirements of British Waterways (BW) for their tunnels are given in Mandatory
procedures for the inspection of operational assets (AIP, 2005).

The terminology of, and intervals for, inspection of tunnel structures varies between the
main UK infrastructure owners, but are similar in terms of their objectives and
methodology. This is set out in Table 4.1, which is based on the requirements stated in the
documents mentioned above. Requirements for inspection of tunnel equipment and
associated elements such as shafts, cross passages and adits may vary from those given in
the table. Depending on the asset owner, there may be other requirements, such as
minimum qualifications and competence for those carrying out inspections (see Section

Table 4.1 Current tunnel structure inspection requirements of the main UK infrastructure owners:
Network Rail (NR), Highways Agency (HA), British Waterways (BW) and London
Underground (LU)

Type Known as Scope and objective Intervals1

Cursory visual check for

deficiencies that might lead to
Superficial inspection (HA) accidents or increased
maintenance. Part of the day-to-
Routine Length inspection (BW) When staff visit the tunnel
day surveillance of the transport
surveillance Permanent way inspection during their duties
network carried out by
(NR) infrastructure owner’s staff (not
necessarily trained inspectors) in
the course of their normal duties

Visual inspection of accessible

representative parts of the
structure (including adjacent Maximum interval:
earthworks, waterways etc) from (LU) 1 year
Routine visual General inspection (HA, LU) ground level or from other readily (HA) 2 years after last
inspection Annual inspection (BW) available walkways, platforms General or principal inspection
etc to identify hazards and (BW) 1 year after last principal
changes in condition and inspection
determine requirements for
detailed inspection

Close or tactile (ie touching

distance) inspection of all
accessible parts of the structure, Normal intervals:
including adjacent earthworks, (LU) between 1 and 12 years2
Principal inspection (HA, LU, waterways etc with provision of
Routine detailed BW) (NR) 1 year3
special access if necessary.
inspection (HA) 6 years4
Tunnel examination (NR) Visually based but can be
supported by measurement and (BW) maximum interval 5
simple testing (eg hammer- years
tapping) of structure to gather
additional data

Undertaken in response to a
specific need (eg where
significant deterioration or
evidence of structural distress is
Special inspection (HA) seen before, during and after the
passage of abnormal loads and As required, to investigate
Additional examination (NR)
Non-routine after flooding and accidents such particular feature or gather
inspection as impacts on the structure, fires specific information. May be as
Defect advice inspection or chemical spillage). Visual a result of a risk assessment
(LU5) inspection can be augmented by
specialist techniques for
investigation of structure (in situ
testing, sampling and laboratory
analysis) as required


1 Stated intervals between inspections are subject to changes in asset owner policy and procedures. The reader should check
for current requirements where appropriate.
2 Maximum interval varies according to primary lining type: one year for flexible iron, four years for brick/stone masonry and
concrete, 12 years for cast iron. E3701 also specifies principal inspection intervals for shafts: stair (tubbing) maximum
interval of four years. For service, vent, plant, pump, cable, disused (tubbing) shafts maximum interval of eight years.
3 Maximum frequency for detailed (tactile) inspection of Network Rail tunnel shafts is six years. Also to a check on the
condition of chimneys and for changes in land-use during an annual walkover survey of the ground above the tunnel.
4 Intervals can exceptionally be up to 10 years.
5 London Underground also require special inspections, which are regular visual inspections carried out at short intervals for
structures awaiting repairs.

When referring to generic inspection types, this guide adopts the terminology used in the
first column of Table 4.1.

As indicated in Table 4.1 and its footnotes, infrastructure owners may have separate
requirements for the visual inspection of tunnel shafts, which vary from that of the tunnel.

The main aim of the inspection process is that the infrastructure should be maintained in
a safe and serviceable condition, and the scope, frequency and quality of inspections
should allow timely and appropriate action to achieve this aim. Aside from satisfying

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 97

statutory obligations in such respects, the period between inspections for an individual
tunnel should be determined dependent upon the findings of the previous inspection, the
tunnel’s sensitivity to deterioration, and its criticality within the infrastructure network.

Fixed-schedule inspection and assessment schemes have some negative consequences

because valuable resources are spent on tunnels that are known to be in excellent
condition whereas tunnels in poor condition may not be inspected as regularly as
necessary. A measure of flexibility is desirable, based on a proper assessment of risk, so
that resources can be directed where they will be most effective, while ensuring the prime
objectives of safety and functionality. Subject to the policy of the tunnel owner, limited
variations in inspection frequencies may be permissible depending on the use, type,
condition, deterioration and accessibility of the tunnel, and the perceived effectiveness of
the inspection. This requires justification, typically through a risk assessment process to
demonstrate the acceptability of the proposed inspection frequency. This approach is
considered advantageous, but the risks associated with increasing inspection intervals
need to be adequately assessed on a structure-by-structure basis.

Consideration may be given to increasing the period between inspections if it has been
demonstrated that:

 the condition of the structure is good and there is no potential for rapid deterioration
 there is a good level of confidence in the results of inspections and assessments
 it is not envisaged that there will be any significant changes in use, loadings or
environment that might detrimentally affect the tunnel
 the potential modes of failure of the tunnel are understood and there is adequate
confidence that the proposed inspection type and frequency can adequately identify
structural distress in advance of failure, or that the consequences of failure are low
 the likelihood of incidents that might affect the structural integrity of the tunnel (eg
ground movements, water inflow, damage through vandalism) is low.

Conversely, consideration may be given to decreasing the period between inspections if it

has been demonstrated that:

 the condition of the structure is poor and deterioration is continuing or there is the
potential for rapid deterioration
 the level of confidence in the results of inspections and assessments is low
 changes in the use, loading or environment of the tunnel are foreseen, which might
detrimentally affect its performance
 the potential mode of failure of the tunnel is poorly understood and there is
inadequate confidence that the current inspection regime can identify structural
distress in advance of failure
 the consequences of failure are perceived to be particularly high
 the likelihood of unforeseen incidents that might adversely affect tunnel integrity is
not low.

Where risk assessments are used to justify reductions in inspection frequency, it is

particularly important that they are updated with current data, reviewed and re-assessed
at suitably regular intervals.

Access, programming and timing of inspections is discussed in Section 4.6.3.

4.3.3 Competence of inspection staff

Although asset managers can specify the range of information to be gathered in the course
of inspections, the quality of this information relies entirely on the capabilities and
competence of the inspection staff themselves. However, the quality of inspection and
reporting can vary considerably between staff unless they are selected by ability and
provided with formal training to equip them with the skills required to adequately fulfil
their role, commensurate with the complexity of the task, and are supported with the
necessary resources. It is also necessary that they have an adequate level of understanding
to be able to judge when emergency measures are required for safety reasons.

Some asset owners specify a minimum standard of qualification and/or competence for
their inspectors. For example, Network Rail requires tunnel inspections to be carried out
by a chartered engineer.

The basic qualities of a good inspector are (after DfT, 2005):

 knowledge of safe working practices and access requirements for inspection

 experience of the techniques and tools available, and an understanding of their use
and limitations
 an adequate understanding of the construction, materials and behaviour of tunnel
 knowledge of the causes of structural defects and deterioration of tunnel construction
 adequate understanding of tunnel modes of failure and the ability to recognise and
interpret features that might require urgent action
 the ability to make and record objective observations accurately, clearly and

For a novice inspector to attain these qualities and become fully effective they are likely to
require some formal training in addition to experience gained by apprenticeship to an
experienced examiner to allow the transfer of knowledge and skills. In certain situations
specialist training and skills may be required, for instance where inspections require roped
access or working in confined spaces.

4.3.4 Visual inspection procedures and techniques

Visual observation is used as the first and most basic method of obtaining key information
on a tunnel, and determining and monitoring its condition. The shortcomings of visual
inspection, discussed in Section 4.3.1, can be overcome by supplementing it with
additional simple and rapid techniques such as photography, dimensional measurement,
hammer tapping and other simple on-site actions. These can be applied in the course of
an inspection where additional information obtained would be beneficial. The range of
techniques that can be used during visual inspections are discussed in Appendix A3.

Inspection procedure is likely to vary depending on the infrastructure type, the type of
tunnel, the requirements for access and the infrastructure owner’s internal procedural
requirements. Frequently some element of familiarisation is required for inspectors, who
may not have visited the tunnel previously or recently. This will involve a review of earlier
inspection records and general information in the tunnel asset records, and may include a
reconnaissance visit. The inspectors should take care to familiarise themselves with any
particular aspects or features of the tunnel that require special attention, for example,
existing defects, areas that are sensitive to deterioration and structurally critical elements.
Inspection procedures are discussed further in Appendix A2.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 99

4.3.5 Optimising inspection procedures and results

Successful inspections rely upon accurately making and recording relevant observations in
a systematic and objective way. This helps comparison with the observations of previous
inspections, and allows inspectors (on-site) and tunnel engineers (back in the office) to
discern current condition and identify any changes.

Attempts have been made to try to ensure greater objectivity in the inspection process by
better training of examiners, clearly prescribing a comprehensive range of observations to
be made during examinations, and wherever possible trying to make observations
quantitative or semi-quantitative, for example, by requiring measurements to be made or
observations to be assigned an index value in accordance with a prescribed rating system.
This systematised data, in standardised and often numerical form, is suitable for recording
and comparing as part of tunnel management systems and can be manipulated and
analysed far more easily than non-standardised information such as an inspector’s general
comments on condition. Each of the major UK infrastructure tunnel owners has their own
systematised procedure for condition assessment and reporting, so that requirements for
data collection are dictated by the needs of the owner. For example, Network Rail’s
structures condition marking index (SCMI) is designed to make objective and standardise
inspection information to allow it to be more easily interpreted and compared. London
Underground has a similar system where the extent and severity of the condition of the
lining is scored using prescribed inspection template forms to provide an overall condition
rating for the structure. Recommended actions and priorities are also indicated against
each identified defect.

When considering the quality of data from tunnel inspections, it is also important to
consider the influence of the human factor and its potential effect on the quality of
observation and recording.

There are several practical steps that may be taken to improve the quality and consistency
of visual inspection observations and records:

1 Inspection procedures and classification systems for observations should be carefully

devised and recorded in inspection handbooks with clear, illustrated descriptions and
examples, supplied to each inspector.
2 Where possible, reporting should be standardised to reduce the risk of error and/or
important data not being recorded and to help compare observations.
3 Inspection pro forma should be devised to capture the required range and detail of
information, and to prompt inspectors to view and record information in a consistent
and systematic way.
4 Inspectors should be encouraged to make liberal use of annotated diagrams,
photographs and direct measurements of the structure to illustrate and highlight
features of interest eg condition and deterioration.
5 Hand-held data-logging devices may be pre-programmed with defect types and
prompt inspectors to record observations in a comprehensive and objective way. They
allow rapid recording, potentially increasing survey productivity and helping its later
use. However, the capabilities of such devices should not limit the scope and
complexity of investigation records unnecessarily and inspectors should still be
encouraged to augment electronic records with dimensioned sketches, photographs
etc. Electronic equipment should be suitably waterproof for use in wet tunnels.
6 Adequate lighting is one of the most important requirements for tunnel inspection,
but many tunnels do not have integral lighting systems. Hand-torches are seldom
adequate because important features can easily be missed. In many situations halogen

lighting, powered by a small generator mounted on a vehicle or trolley, provides a
much better intensity and spread of light and is likely to lead to improvements in
observation. Otherwise, powerful head-torches with long-life belt-mounted battery
packs are preferred to hand-torches, because they illuminate the area being viewed,
are less cumbersome and leave both hands free for other tasks.
7 Observing and recording irregularities in tunnel intrados (eg bulges or cracks with
displacement) can be aided by illumination with incident light, ie by taking the light
source away from the observer (or camera) and directing it at a shallow angle to the
surface so that unevenness is accentuated by highlights and shadows.
8 Inspectors may use simple assessment methods for in-the-field evaluation of certain
tunnel parameters, for example, qualitative or semi-quantitative assessments of
materials condition (see Appendix A4.1). Some can be calibrated to give estimated
absolute values for masonry constituents (bricks, stone blocks or mortar).
9 It may be possible to augment the results of visual inspections by using some of the
data collected by other techniques and results from other types of investigation, for
example, laser scanning techniques that may have been carried out for other
purposes such as gauging surveys in rail tunnels.

An often overlooked factor that can influence the quality of inspection records is the
physical comfort of the inspection staff. Some tunnel environments are unpleasant and
difficult places to work, and it may be particularly difficult to concentrate on the process of
inspection while in cold, wet conditions or at the end of a long and strenuous shift with
limited welfare facilities. In particular:

 warm and waterproof clothing should be provided, including gloves and good
protective boots. Also any other necessary PPE should be used so as to be comfortable
and avoid unnecessarily encumbering or restricting the inspector in undertaking their
 waterproof writing equipment (pens, pencils and notebooks) should be provided.
Paper-based records can be made on a clipboard protected inside a large clear plastic
map case that protects them from water but allows enough room to write in. The use
of hand-held data-loggers may be advantageous here
 when working long shifts, adequate opportunities should be provided to sit, rest, take
refreshments and advantage of welfare facilities. However note that in potentially
unhygienic tunnel environments eating and drinking may be hazardous and is
prohibited by some infrastructure owners
 adequate time should be allowed to complete the job of inspection thoroughly.
Oversights, mistakes and even accidents can occur if inspectors rush their task to
complete it within unreasonable time constraints.

In addition to providing basic requirements for ensuring health and safety, taking simple
measures such as these to meet the welfare needs of inspection staff is likely to result in
improved quality of observations and recorded information.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 101


4.4.1 Objectives of tunnel investigation

Tunnel investigations are typically carried out to gather information on specific aspects
related to a tunnel’s construction and performance, for instance its structure, type,
characteristics and condition of its fabric and information about the tunnel environment
(including ground conditions). This is often in response to a specific need:

 to obtain detailed information on tunnel construction for asset inventories (eg to

locate hidden shafts)
 to investigate the extent, severity, cause and consequence of apparent changes in
condition (eg in response to noted defects or deterioration)
 to establish the effect of changes in tunnel environment (eg ground movements)
 to obtain information necessary for the assessment of maintenance, repair or
refurbishment needs, and for the design of any associated works
 to obtain information necessary for the assessment and design of alterations to the
tunnel in response to changes in requirements or in its use
 to establish the structural condition of the tunnel before any proposed external
development that may influence it.

To meet these objectives, the investigation may need to obtain information on one specific
feature of the tunnel or often a range of features and characteristics, for example:

 properties of the ground and any variations along the length of the tunnel, including
soil and rock types, physical and chemical characteristics, spacing and orientation of
fractures, faults and joints, joint fillings, presence of mineralised zones etc
 for lined tunnels, the parameters of the lining – construction type, thickness, profile,
materials, condition, structural action, evidence of distress or deterioration
(movement and distortion, cracking, delamination, debonding, spalling and loss of
section etc)
 invert parameters. Is there an invert and, if so, information on its construction type,
thickness and condition
 what is behind the lining? Presence of voids/infill materials/water? Nature of contact
between lining and ground around whole extrados?
 variations in water ingress and tunnel wetness, potential sources and paths of water
 condition, capacity, performance and use of integral drainage systems
 characteristics of any water entering, especially its chemical nature and any
 tunnel shafts – presence of hidden shafts, potential for unknown shafts, shaft/shaft
lining condition and safety, ground stability, potential zone of influence etc.

Obtaining this information is likely to require the use of one or a range of investigation
techniques that should be selected to efficiently meet the investigation objectives.

4.4.2 Investigation strategy and reliability of results

Tunnels may pass through a variety of ground conditions, have a range of construction
methods and include different internal environments. This may not present a problem

when carrying out an investigation of a specific and localised feature, but may become an
important consideration when trying to characterise larger areas. A test performed at a
single locality may not be representative of the whole tunnel, and care should be taken
when extrapolating results. For example, if tests are concentrated on the worst areas, then
the results should not be considered as representative of the tunnel as a whole. It is
generally advisable to plan an investigation strategy that will encompass a representative
range of potential variation. Reliance on one type of test to determine key parameters is
discouraged in favour of a broader approach.

It may be useful to target typical, best and worst areas based on visual inspection, or to
classify the tunnel into several zones depending on its construction, condition, features
and environment (including ground conditions). The most appropriate approach will be
dictated by the nature and needs of the tunnel under consideration, the objectives of the
investigation, constraints on its scope (particularly the availability of resources and access)
and the confidence required in the results.

Several factors should be considered:

1 Are the features of interest easily identified and targeted (eg visibly damaged areas of
lining) or is the potential variation hidden – requiring a more statistically valid
approach (eg typical strength of lining materials)?
2 The size of the area or feature of interest (is it necessary to characterise the whole
tunnel, a part of it, or just a specific small area or feature?).
3 The need to draw comparisons between areas or features (eg areas in different
condition, exposed to different environments, or of different materials).
4 The potential for variation in the parameters of interest within areas, and the need to
fully characterise the range of variation in the test results.
5 The level of confidence required in the representation of the results, considering the
potential consequences of using non-representative test results.

In determining the most appropriate sampling strategy and the most appropriate rate of
testing, consideration of basic statistical aspects may be beneficial, in particular an
understanding of the concepts of populations, means and standard deviations. Further
guidance on sample numbers and the interpretation of test results is given in BS 2846-4
(BSI, 1976) and BS 6000-1 (BSI, 2005a).

Tunnels and their environments may be subject to gradual change and it is important to
appreciate that information from a single site investigation represents a single point in
time with respect to the structure. While this is adequate for some purposes, used in
isolation it cannot provide information on how parameters have changed over time, which
is frequently desirable. A single site investigation can, for example, identify a crack in a
tunnel lining, and possibly even allow its likely cause to be discerned, but taken in isolation
it is difficult to determine whether this is an inactive defect that has been stable for a long
time or whether it is recent and rapidly developing – scenarios that might prompt very
different reactions. Although there may be clues as to whether phenomena are recent or
longstanding, such as fresh surfaces on spalled materials, deep carbonation of concrete
along a crack, or the presence of thick deposits that have built up over time, such
indicators cannot always be confidently relied upon to provide adequate or accurate

When devising a sampling and testing plan, there should be clear justification for carrying out each test
or sample at its particular location, and how the results will be used. Using inappropriate techniques or
obtaining unnecessary information is a waste of resources and can cause damage to the tunnel and
disruption to its normal use.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 103

4.4.3 Techniques for tunnel investigation

Investigation of the structure of a tunnel and its environment is carried out to:

 identify or verify its construction features

 carry out in situ characterisation of materials and environmental factors
 identify and determine the cause of damage and deterioration
 to obtain samples of materials for further laboratory analysis.

For an unlined tunnel this is likely to include:

 tunnel intrados geometry and dimensions

 detailed geotechnical properties of the ground (eg in situ determination of bulk rock
characteristics, orientation and spacing of discontinuities, presence of faults, and
mineralised or weak and fractured areas)
 obtaining samples for the laboratory determination of materials characteristics
 hydrological assessment, water chemistry.

For lined tunnels, this might also include:

 type, profile and thickness of lining (including any shaft linings)

 nature of lining/ground contact (presence of voids, timbers, water etc)
 presence of invert and its characteristics (thickness, profile)
 presence of hidden construction shafts or other features
 presence of any pillars or piers that might have been constructed on the lining to
support the ground, ie point loading on the lining
 nature of ground behind the lining
 obtaining samples of structural materials and the ground for laboratory analysis of
 variations in construction joint spacings in masonry-lined tunnels (see Section A4.1.4).

Techniques commonly used in the course of tunnel investigations to obtain such

information include:

 coring and removal of core samples

 use of endoscopes/borescopes
 water sampling and analysis and local measurements of ingress rate
 traditional and more advanced methods of dimensional measurement and surveying
(eg laser scanning and digital photogrammetry)
 specialist non-destructive geophysical techniques (eg radar, thermal imaging,
 semi-destructive in situ testing methods (eg carbonation depths, corrosion potentials,
strain measurements using flat-jacks or overcoring, pull-out tests to estimate strength)
 removing panels of lining for analysis directly viewing the extrados and the area
beyond it
 geotechnical investigation and sampling techniques.

These may be supplemented by laboratory testing of samples, using various analytical

 physical testing to determine properties such as compressive strength and modulus

 chemical characterisation of materials by x-ray diffraction, thermography and other
 petrographic and metallurgical examinations by microscopy
 measurements of physical characteristics such as porosity and permeability
 soils testing and characterisation.

More detailed information on many of these techniques is provided in Appendix A4, while
investigation and assessment techniques specifically for unlined tunnels are discussed in
Appendix A6.

4.4.4 Selection of investigation techniques

The selection of investigation techniques requires:

 an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses

 the specific circumstances and needs of the investigation
 consideration of a range of other influences and constraints relating to the tunnel, its
environment, owner/user requirements, and health and safety and environmental

The most direct and definitive sources of information often rely on some form of
destructive testing, for example, taking core samples through the lining and subjecting
them to laboratory examination and testing. Note that careful consideration should be
given to the effect on the structure and how this damage can be repaired without causing
the structure to weaken, leak or deteriorate. Often it is possible to rationalise the number
of destructive tests by using them in combination with mildly-destructive or non-
destructive techniques.

Commonly used and potentially useful techniques for investigating various parameters of
interest are identified in Table 4.2.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 105

Table 4.2 Recommended methods for direct investigation of tunnel parameters

Parameter Primary source Secondary source Other information

Measurements taken from

Measurements taken from full- retrieved cores Original records of
depth core-holes (concrete,
Non-destructive test data construction (although data
masonry, cast iron) but with
Lining thickness (eg radar for concrete/ should be verified). Previous
consideration of possible water
masonry or ultrasonic investigation results or
ingress and making good
methods for metallic records from repairs etc

In situ measurement (eg

Visual appearance using flat-jacks for
Laboratory tests on recovered masonry)
Lining materials Published data for similar
characteristics samples (eg cores or blocks of Estimates based on types of materials
masonry or rock, drilled or cut examination or qualitative
samples of metals). assessment of recovered

In situ measurements (eg

using flat-jacks or by
Laboratory testing on
In situ stress in linings overcoring for concrete and Published data
masonry, ACSM stress-probe
for metallic materials)

Visual observations supported

by simple in situ tests (eg
hardness tapping or sounding/
acoustic energy meter for
Materials condition and voiding of ring separation in Measurement of Previous investigation
causes of materials masonry) environmental parameters results and records of
deterioration (eg groundwater chemistry) repairs
Laboratory tests on recovered
samples (petrographic
analysis, chemical and
physical testing)

Direct measurement (traditional

Records of original
or advanced surveying
Intrados profile construction or repairs,
techniques depending on
drawings etc

Observation of rock mass

Rock mass condition Rock mass mapping condition and identification
of unstable rock blocks

Scan line mapping of Undertaking RMR and Q

Rock mass classification
discontinuity properties classifications

Coring from within tunnel,

Records from original
window-sampling, boreholes Geological maps and survey
construction and repairs.
from surface, penetrometer records, data from existing
Features of construction (eg
Ground conditions tests, permeability tests, boreholes in the area, and
changes in lining type and
piezometers, in situ ground hydrological survey
thickness, joint spacing and
stress, lab tests on recovered information
water ingress)

Published geological data

Analysis of samples from for locality
immediate area (eg by direct
Nature of ground behind Analysis of samples from Records of construction and
coring, window sampling
lining general locality form of construction (eg
behind lining or from
boreholes from surface) thickness of lining and
spacing of joints)

Direct observation of interface Indirect survey using NDT

Nature of tunnel/ground between lining and ground by techniques such as radar or
contact inspection through core-holes ultrasonics, acoustic energy
using an endoscope meter etc

Direct observation of wetness

of tunnel intrados, or through
core-holes in lining Published hydrological and
Presence of water NDT techniques such as
hydrogeological maps and
behind lining Piezometers installed in core- conductivity
other data
holes or boreholes from

Table 4.2 Recommended methods for direct investigation of tunnel parameters (contd)

Spot-measurements of
Visual inspection can be
moisture content of
augmented by assessment
materials (see Dill, 2000) or
against a suitable scale
wetness survey using NDT Meteorological records,
Wetness of tunnel lining and (see Appendix A3.2.6).
methods (eg conductivity or information from owners of
water ingress through it Wetness can vary with time
thermography) or water services
depending on several
measurement of local rate
factors, eg local rainfall,
of water ingress (by
leakage from services

Construction records, also Aerial photographs (spoil

inference from observation heap detection)
of intrados features, local NDT methods (eg radar,
Presence of hidden tunnel Records of local history and
water ingress at crown, resistivity, seismic and
shafts land-use
distance between shafts, microgravity surveys)
presence of possible spoil Intrusive geotechnical
heaps above tunnel investigation methods

Sampling and laboratory

analysis to identify Inference from nature of
Aggressiveness of Visual observation of
deleterious pollutants (eg potential water sources,
groundwater effects on the structure
sulfates, pH, chlorides for adjacent ground conditions
reinforced concrete)

It is important for both technical and budgetary reasons to consider the optimum
sequence of investigation works. Methods that provide rapid coverage such as laser
scanning of the surface, or radar surveying of the subsurface, provide a comprehensive
overview of tunnel characteristics, but often require verification by intrusive methods. It is
often best to first use the most rapid methods giving widest coverage, then use the results
to select representative locations for localised investigation methods, for example, drilling
or coring.

Most NDT/geophysical methods involve the interpretation of parameters such as electrical

conductivity or dielectric constant that do not directly relate to useful engineering
properties. The reliability of the interpretation inevitably varies from site to site because of
varying quality and quantity of data and the availability of calibration data such as core-
holes or records. Asset owners should expect geophysical specialists to report confidence
levels in their findings. A discussion of the need for the specifier to understand NDT
black-box outputs is given in Turner (1997).

Considering health and safety and environmental aspects of such techniques is required,
particularly relating to working under infrastructure owners’ operating procedures, and
health and safety and environmental guidelines.

4.4.5 Optimising tunnel investigations and results

Tunnel investigations have very specific objectives. It is important that these objectives are
clearly understood and stated, and that the investigation is designed to meet them

An assessment of the constraints and their impact on potential strategy and methods of
investigation plays an important part in planning. In some cases what is deemed to be
technically the most suitable option may be inappropriate or impractical due to specific
site conditions. In many tunnels, physical and time constraints are important and are
often the controlling factor in the ability to carry out an investigation. The presence of
tunnel equipment and electrical cabling, the tunnel dimensions and geometry and its
structural condition all have a bearing. Investigations may cause disruption to the normal
function of the tunnel and may need to be carried out in restricted (often very short)
periods. They may require special traffic management and access provisions, and may

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 107

employ a variety of specialist techniques and sub-contractors. For a typical tunnel
inspection the majority of the cost is associated with access and traffic controls, so it is
important that the opportunity is used to its best advantage to gather all the information
required and avoid the need for repeat visits. So investigations require careful planning
and co-ordination between the various parties involved.

1 Attempts should be made to co-ordinate access arrangements so that inspections can

take advantage of tunnel closures booked for other activities where these will not
conflict. Conversely, a booked investigation closure should be opened to other parties
to take advantage, provided that their activities will not conflict with the investigation.
2 Investigations should be focused. Obtaining superfluous information results in
unnecessary cost, damage to the structure and disruption to the tunnel’s normal
function and should be avoided.
3 Investigation and testing techniques should be carefully selected with a good
understanding of their capabilities and limitations, the results they are expected to
yield, how they will be used to achieve the investigation objectives, and the level of
confidence that is required.
4 Techniques should wherever possible be used in a complementary fashion, ie their
strengths and weaknesses and the results yielded should combine to provide the
necessary range and quality of information to adequately fulfil the investigation
5 A suitable single person or organisation should be made responsible for co-ordinating
all parties and their work.
6 Those responsible for carrying out different elements of the investigation (eg
specialist sub-contractors and testing laboratories) should have an understanding of its
overall objectives, how their activities fit into it, their responsibilities and what is
required of them.
7 Specialist sub-contractors should be carefully selected and are required to
demonstrate suitable skills and past experience. Often it is useful to involve them in
the process of specifying and planning the investigation so as to ensure that adequate
resources and support are available, and potential problems and risks are identified
and resolved at an early stage.
8 Risks to achieving the investigation objectives should be identified and measures taken
to minimise them to acceptable levels wherever practicable (eg by having backup
equipment and staff available on stand-by for critical tasks).
9 It is necessary to consider the health and safety and environmental aspects of the
works, particularly relating to infrastructure owners’ operating procedures, and
health and safety and environmental guidelines, and the appropriate training and
competence of all parties involved.
10 A clear method statement should be produced, setting out the scope of the
investigation and the parties involved and their responsibilities. It should list the
activities to be undertaken, where, when, who by and what equipment is to be used,
identify the hazards associated with the work, details of how they are to be mitigated,
and procedures in the event of unforeseen circumstances and emergencies.

Many asset owners use specialist sub-contractors to organise, carry out and interpret the
results of site investigations, including consulting engineers, materials specialists and testing
laboratories. All should be able to demonstrate the specialist knowledge required for the
task and preferably have a successful track-record of carrying out similar investigations in a
tunnel environment. A good understanding of the issues involved in working in such an
environment is important, because the associated requirements and constraints are often
different to those presented by other types of structure.

Monitoring is the repeated measurement of parameters at suitable time intervals to allow
comparison and assessment. This can be anything from periodic visual inspection to real-
time instrumented monitoring of rapidly changing parameters. Requirements for
monitoring include:

 verification of fitness for purpose of a structure

 investigation of specific changes in the structure and its environment over time
 monitoring the response of the structure to changes, for example, during and after
maintenance, repair and improvement works, to assess their effect on the structure
and its longer-term performance.

Monitoring results may provide the input parameters for numerical modelling both for
design and sensitivity of the structure so the type of monitoring may be dictated by the
input requirements. Structural models may also need to be calibrated by field
measurements to verify predicted responses.

This section considers the use of instrumented monitoring systems.

4.5.1 Objectives of tunnel monitoring

Monitoring is used to detect and/or measure change in one or more specified parameters.
Monitoring can be achieved by carrying out discrete repeat observations and
measurements of phenomena at suitable times, or gathering such data using a more
continuous automated approach, eg by installing suitable dedicated monitoring
instrumentation and logging devices.

Before the selection and design of instrumentation systems the first step in any monitoring
scheme is to clearly and logically define the objectives, including a precise description of
what is to be monitored, why, and what will be done with the results (this latter
consideration is particularly important but the one most often overlooked). Requirements
for monitoring systems vary, but include, for example:

 to verify the continued fitness for purpose (condition and performance) of a tunnel
 to investigate specific changes in the tunnel and its environment over time
 to monitor the response of the structure to change, eg during works on the tunnel or
from construction works taking place nearby.

It is often desirable to supplement historical information with continuing assessments to

monitor condition and discern any changes. Many aspects of tunnel behaviour and
performance are the result of complex interactions between parameters that undergo
change over time: rates of change can vary. It is important to gain an understanding of
how the parameter of interest is affected by other variables (eg temperature effects) so that
these may be accounted for when interpreting monitoring results avoiding erroneous
conclusions. For any monitoring results to be useful the significance of observed changes
in monitored parameters and their relevance to the structure should be properly
understood. Some changes are of no consequence, whereas others may be highly
significant, and interpretation should be able to discern between these.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 109

4.5.2 Monitoring instrumentation and techniques

Periodic inspection is the cheapest form of monitoring and is generally very effective.
However, inspection does have limitations and there are a variety of circumstances where
it is appropriate or necessary to use instrumentation to carry out specific monitoring tasks.
Frequently this involves the installation of an automated measurement system:

 where access to staff is limited or presents a safety hazard

 where the frequency and timing of measurement makes manual measurement
unfeasible, uneconomic or impossible
 where long-term measurement is required, either due to the aims of the monitoring
exercise, or due to the nature of the parameter being monitored.

Systems are typically based on the installation of instrumentation (ie sensors and
transducers such as tiltmeters or strain gauges) onto the elements to be monitored, or
alternatively, for monitoring movement by setting up a system based on surveying
equipment and techniques.

Applied instrumentation is most useful where the parameters to be monitored are clearly
definable and suitable measurements can be made at specific locations. For example,
measuring changes in crack width over time, mid-span deflections of a beam under
changing loading conditions, or the strain developed at a specific critical point of an
element under stress. Sensors and transducers tend to have specific characteristics, and some
familiarity with their capabilities and limitations is required to use them effectively.

Traditionally, conventional survey techniques have been used satisfactorily for the periodic
measurement of long-term movements such as building settlement, but were less suitable
in potentially more dynamic situations, where short measurement cycles or instant
feedback is required, or where frequent re-measurement is required over a long period of
time. For such applications, monitoring would typically be carried out by applied
instrumentation. However, with the automation of survey instruments, the incorporation
of automatic target recognition and reflectorless measurement technology, continuous
movement monitoring using survey techniques and instruments is now a viable alternative
to applied instrumentation in certain circumstances. With fixed datum points, 3D optical
measurements using total station instruments can be used to make absolute measurements
of movement and deflection. The equipment used for such applications typically
comprises a motorised total survey station and a series of suitable prisms/reflectors for
attachment to target areas.

A discussion of instrumentation and techniques for common tunnel monitoring situations

is included in Appendix A4.4.

4.5.3 Selection and design of monitoring systems

As with one-off tunnel investigations, long-term monitoring is often carried out in

response to a specific need and so may have very specific objectives. It is important that
these objectives are clearly understood and stated, and that monitoring procedures and
systems are designed to meet them efficiently. Similar considerations apply to those when
designing an investigation (see Section 4.4.2) however there are many other issues that
should be considered:

1 The parameter (or parameters) to be monitored should be carefully selected and

clearly defined to meet the monitoring objectives.

2 It is necessary to consider the full range of potential factors that might influence the
parameter to be monitored (eg changes in temperature, moisture) and determine
whether these require further measurement or monitoring to allow interpretation of
the results.
3 The likely frequency of occurrence or the rate of change of measured parameters
should be considered and the monitoring system designed to accommodate this, ie is
continuous, frequent, or infrequent measurement required?
4 The system should be capable of measuring and recording the required range of
variation likely to be encountered in the parameter to be monitored.
5 The necessary frequency of data capture and analysis should be specified and
supported, ie does data need to be constantly monitored, or checked periodically, or
only at the end of the full monitoring period?
6 The likely total duration of measurement should be considered. Is monitoring
required to record a particular occurrence, or is it needed over a period of days,
weeks, months or even years? It may be necessary to characterise normal variations in
measured parameters, eg fluctuations in movements and background vibration. Does
any installation need to be temporary, semi-permanent or even permanent?
7 The power supply requirements for equipment should be considered. Is power
necessary? What type? Where from? For how long will it need to function? Can it be
self-contained (batteries) or should it be from an external source and, if so, what does
that entail?
8 The method of data capture should be considered. Will it be possible to access the
equipment to obtain data or does it need to be transmitted to another point, for
example, outside the tunnel portal (eg by cabling) or to an office location (eg by
telecommunications links)?
9 Does the system need to react to the data in any way? For example, is it necessary to
trigger alerts or alarms, or perform some other action?
10 The installed system should not cause problems with the normal function of the
tunnel, for example, by impinging on required clearances for traffic
11 The installed system should be capable of functioning adequately and reliably within
the tunnel environment (eg can it work in darkness, deal with likely temperature
variations, wetness or immersion, dirt and dust, vibration from traffic movements?
Could it survive these conditions for the whole period of the monitoring?)
12 The criticality of the data should be considered in the system design. What are the
consequences if the system fails to function as required? What is the risk of this and is
it acceptable? Is a backup system necessary or desirable? Is access available for system
maintenance and dealing with any faults?
13 Installed systems should be electromagnetically compatible with any permanent
electrical equipment in the tunnel.
14 Systems should be capable of self monitoring and advising the monitoring engineer in
the event of internal system, or data link failure.

Successful monitoring requires not only general background knowledge of

instrumentation and measurement techniques, but also a basic initial understanding of the
parameters to be measured and their likely behaviour. If the wrong type of instrument or
technique is used, or the right type is used in the wrong location, the data collected is
unlikely to fulfil the objectives of the project. In such circumstances, even where repeat
measurement is a possibility, redeployment of fixed instrumentation may be a costly and
time consuming exercise. Where monitoring movement and displacement applied
instrumentation is, in certain circumstances, less flexible than the use of survey methods,
which can often more readily be adapted to changes in circumstances or requirements on

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 111

the job, however system design and the choice of measurement techniques may be
dictated by the specific requirements and constraints associated with the current work.

The quality of instrumentation is a significant influence on the accuracy and reliability of

measurements, and the specified accuracy of a measurement system can be degraded by
several factors:

 use of the wrong instrument types, or use of instruments with unsuitable range
 poor selection of instrument locations
 unsuitable installation methods and procedures
 incorrect calibration of instruments
 poorly designed connections and cabling back to loggers.

The influence of such factors may be minimised or avoided by careful system design,
including appropriate selection, calibration, installation and wiring of instruments.


General issues relating to the planning and preparation of inspections and investigations
are discussed in Sections 4.3, 4.4 and 4.5.

4.6.1 Risk assessment

Inspection and investigation of tunnels involves exposure of those involved (and in some
cases the general public) to a variety of health and safety hazards including:

 exposure to live traffic

 working over or near water
 falls from height
 contact with services, equipment and hazardous substances
 exposure to harmful gases and fumes
 working in confined spaces
 exposure to hazardous chemical or biological contaminants.

There may also be risks to the environment, including pollution of the air or watercourses
with harmful fumes or substances.

A risk assessment should be carried out and suitable methods of mitigation specified for
any risks that are unacceptable. A method statement that summarises all the information,
including safe methods of working specified in the risk assessment, should be prepared,
and agreed by all parties. The method statement should take into account the review of
records and reconnaissance of the structure, access requirements, health and safety and
environmental considerations (see Section 3.6). The level of detail given should be
appropriate to the complexity, circumstances and type of inspection.

The following information should be included in any method statement, (DfT, 2005):

 details and programme of the work to be undertaken

 equipment required
 methods of access to be used

 traffic management details
 the risk assessment including safe procedures for dealing with hazards
 the resources and competence of the staff to be employed
 planned working times
 temporary works to be employed
 protection from highway, rail, waterway and other traffic
 requirements for action by others
 any co-ordination or notification required
 any environmental impacts of the work and proposed mitigations
 the health and safety assessment and measures to be taken and equipment to be
provided to protect all parties.

Health and safety and environmental considerations in carrying out work in tunnels are
discussed further in Section 3.6.

4.6.2 Access, programming and timing

Where programming of inspections or investigations is concerned, the first consideration

should be given to making advantageous use of existing access opportunities. Any
disruption to services and associated costs can be minimised by co-ordinating them with
other activities that might affect the normal use of the tunnel, for example, inspection and
investigation may be programmed to coincide with maintenance and repair works (which
might also have the benefit of providing access to normally hidden parts of the structure)
wherever such works are mutually compatible. However, where such tasks are
incompatible inspection and investigation works may be competing for access time with
other activities.

It should be a priority that the timing of inspections always satisfies regulatory requirements
and that any delay or deferral in inspection or investigation is justified by an adequate
assessment of possible increased risk to the safety of the structure and to the public.

The timing of inspections may influence the state of the structure and the nature and
quality of observations that can be made. The environmental conditions (temperature and
weather) should be recorded as a routine part of any inspection, and the current and
recently prevailing conditions may be important. For example, the moisture state of the
masonry and water ingress may be higher after rain, cracks may open more in cold
weather, and the adequacy and functioning of existing drainage provisions may be
apparent in wet periods.

Adequate access to the tunnel intrados, including any shafts, is necessary for detailed
visual observations. Access requirements are likely to be specific to the tunnel and to the
type of infrastructure, for example, the inspection of waterways tunnels brings more risks
associated with working over water and provision of a suitable boat-supported working
platform. It may be necessary to make arrangements to temporarily remove obstructions,
such as cabling equipment or protective sheeting, to allow clear access and vision. The
inspection of canal tunnels below the waterline will require their prior drainage (and can
be combined with maintenance works to clear accumulated material from the channel).

Note that the access point onto railway tracks may be some distance from the tunnel,
especially for mechanised plant and this travelling time should be built into the
programme for inspections.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 113


4.7.1 Detection and location of unknown hidden shafts

It is important for asset owners to have a record of all shafts associated with their tunnels
so that they are safely managed. To ensure that this record is comprehensive, it is
necessary to identify any unknown and possibly hidden shafts that do not appear on
existing records and cannot be confidently detected from visual inspection of the tunnel
and the ground above it.

Network Rail have adopted a multi-phase approach to ensuring that the location of all hidden tunnel
shafts are identified (Network Rail, 2004b), as described below:
1 PHASE A: desk study that aims to find independent records of the existence of a tunnel shaft and
its location to a tolerance of ±10m. A reconnaissance walk-over survey could be included in this
phase, if deemed necessary, but otherwise is included in Phase B.
2 PHASE B: non-intrusive investigation, including walkover and walk-through surveys, and using non-
destructive techniques from the ground above the tunnel (eg radar, magnetic and seismic survey
techniques) or from within it (eg radar and ground resistivity surveying), to identify features that
might be associated with a shaft.
3 PHASE C: intrusive investigation of areas where Phases A and B suggest a strong likelihood of the
presence of a shaft (using techniques such as boreholes and ground probing, trial pits, penetration
tests) to confirm its presence and location.
This process provides a method of efficiently investigating potential shaft locations with increasing
confidence until a stage is reached when confidence is sufficient to discount the existence of a shaft or
to confirm its presence and location.
More details of this methodology are given in Appendix A5.

4.7.2 Shaft inspection

Requirements for shaft inspections vary between infrastructure owners, but commonly a
tactile (touching distance) inspection is required at a specified maximum interval (see
Table 4.1). This may be different from the requirements for inspection of the rest of the

Shafts present problems with man-access for detailed tactile examination that may require
the provision of suitable and safe specialist access techniques (eg rope access or
steeplejacking with ladders), equipment (eg scaffolding, mobile access platforms, cranes
and inspection cages) and safety measures (eg training and precautions associated with
working in confined spaces). In situations where inspection staff are likely to be exposed
to such risks consideration should be given to the use of remote access methods to carry
out the necessary inspection tasks. The inspection of shafts and unsafe areas of tunnel
have previously been undertaken from a position of safety using CCTV surveying
equipment (for example, as described in Case study A1.8). Such techniques also have the
advantage that a permanent and objective visual record of the shaft condition is obtained,
which can be shared with others, viewed and reviewed in an office environment and
compared to previous records. Such techniques may not provide a suitable replacement
for manned-access in all situations, and are not permitted now by some asset owners. They
do have potential for further development and possible use in the future. For example,
shafts have been surveyed using high-resolution digital video cameras mounted on
telescopic masts up to 30 m in length, and LU has recently carried out trials in which a
video camera has been suspended below a helium-filled balloon that can be remotely
manoeuvred using small thrusters (Chew and Roberts, 2005).

Guidance on working at height is given in the Work at Height Regulations 2005.

The shaft should be examined and explored as far as is reasonably practical and safe to
obtain the data required for the design of the remedial works. This should include:

 type and condition of fill with location of any voids, headings or culverts
 type, condition and thickness of linings, if used, and identification of infill material
behind the linings
 details of any special construction, plugs, or staging
 groundwater levels, seepages or drainage measures, and the effects if these are
 details of all surrounding rock and superficial deposits.

Where regular detailed inspection as part of a normal maintenance regime is not practical
or feasible, such shafts present an unquantifiable risk that cannot effectively be managed
by normal means. It is recommended that an action plan be developed to either infill the
shaft with non flammable permanent fill or install safe access to enable examinations to be

Figure 4.1 Two views down a tunnel shaft. Water ingress and the presence of shaft furniture can
obstruct inspection and other work in shafts and should be taken into account when
planning access

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 115

Where the shaft is to be infilled, the fill material should provide adequate support to the
shaft such that there is no undue increased load on the existing tunnel lining (NR, 2004b).



4.8.1 The importance of good interpretation

The safety and serviceability of individual tunnels and the tunnel stock as a whole relies on
the quality of the data obtained in the course of routine inspections and investigations,
and on the quality of the interpretation by which the condition of structural elements is
assessed and maintenance and repair needs identified.

The importance of good interpretation cannot be overstated, and there is no substitute for
a thorough understanding of tunnel structures, the factors that influence their
performance and behaviour, and the significance of observations and defects. In this way,
the knowledge and experience of inspectors, assessors and engineers has a direct
influence on the quality of tunnel management.

It is also important to remember that the interpretation can only be as good as the data
from the investigation. Great care should be taken when extrapolating data and making
judgement about parameters that were either not directly measured or where the
accuracy of the data is suspect.

4.8.2 Considerations for interpretation

It is important to appreciate that tunnels and their environments are subject to gradual
change and that information from a single inspection or site investigation represents only
the current condition. While this is adequate for some purposes, ie in verifying
construction features, used in isolation it cannot provide information on how parameters
have changed over time, which is frequently desirable. A single site investigation can, for
example, identify a crack or bulge in a lining, and possibly even allow its likely cause to be
discerned. However in isolation it is difficult to determine whether this is an inactive
defect that has been stable for a long time or whether it is recent and rapidly developing –
scenarios that might prompt very different reactions. Although there are sometimes clues
as to whether phenomena are recent or longstanding, such as fresh surfaces on spalled
brickwork or the presence of thick leachate deposits, such indicators cannot always be
confidently relied upon to provide adequate or accurate information.

Care should be exercised in the interpretation of test results from localised sampling and
testing. The fabric of the constituent elements of tunnels may be very variable so it is
important that undue weight should not be given to individual results. The data should be
seen in the context of the behaviour/performance of the structure, particularly where the
materials are inherently heterogeneous, such as with old masonry. Individual rogue
results should not be ignored as they may help in resolving the problem. Reliance on one
type of test to determine key parameters is discouraged in favour of a broader approach.

Where rates of change are important, comparison of the current state with a previous one
is necessary, and there is no option but to rely on whatever historical records may exist.
These are particularly useful where it is necessary to extrapolate observations into the
future and make predictions. Care should be exercised here because while a good
understanding of previous behaviour is extremely valuable, the past is not always the key
to the present and future. Many aspects of tunnel behaviour and performance are the
result of complex interactions between parameters that undergo changes over time, and

the rates of these changes can vary. It is often desirable to supplement historical
information with continuing assessments to monitor the current state and discern any
changes. Monitoring can be achieved by carrying out discrete repeat observations and
measurements of phenomena at suitable times, or gathering such data using a more
continuous automated approach, eg by installing suitable dedicated monitoring
instrumentation and logging devices (see Section 4.5).

Table 4.3 includes a variety of common observations relating to tunnel defects and
apparent condition for each of the main tunnel construction types considered here,
together with suggestions of possible causes and potential effects. It is intended to provide
assistance to staff who are experienced in the inspection and assessment of tunnel
structures, rather than providing a substitute for their experience. It is important that any
tunnel defect, particularly any evidence of change in condition or environment, is
properly evaluated by a competent person to discern its significance and assess the most
suitable course of action.

Guidance on other defects and deterioration mechanisms that may occur specifically in
cut-and-cover tunnels is included in other publication:

 CIRA C656 Masonry arch bridges – condition appraisal and remedial treatment (McKibbins et
al, 2006) for masonry arches
 CIRIA C664 Iron and steel bridges: condition appraisal and remedial treatment (Tilly et al,
2007) for iron and steel structures.

Table 4.3 Interpretation of common inspection and investigation observations


1 Loose surface material

Loose rock on tunnel roof and walls is typically the result of poor
blasting control during construction, weathering or washout of
supporting material. Falling material is normally limited to
relatively small debris but still pose a hazard to tunnel users and
Loose material should be identified and made safe, normally by
removal or in some cases addition of a secondary lining.

2 Potentially unstable blocks/wedges

Rock blocks are bounded by discontinuities, the spacing and
orientation of which allow kinematically inadmissible blocks. There
is a risk of unstable rock falling onto or into the path of traffic
and/or damaging tunnel equipment.
Rock stability should be checked (eg by scanline survey of joint
sets) and the need for stabilising measures (eg rock bolting,
application of mesh, sprayed concrete) assessed.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 117

Table 4.3 Interpretation of common inspection and investigation observations (contd)


1 Loss of mortar from joints

Deterioration of mortar occurs through physical weathering processes
(typically in moist conditions from leaching, physical salt attack,
wetting/drying or freeze/thaw cycling) or chemical attack (eg by sulfates).
Can result in loose masonry (hazardous if overhead) and reduced area for
load transfer leading to stress concentrations.
Where mortar is extruded from joints or joints have opened up this can
indicate deformation caused by changes in the stress state of the lining and
should be investigated. (Note though that friable and extruding mortar can
also be a sign of sulfate attack, particularly if conditions are wet and a
whitish bloom of sulfate salts is visible).

2 Spalling (weathering)
Often caused by freeze/thaw cycling in areas that are wet and subject to
freezing conditions, but can also result from physical salt attack, use of
over-hard mortar with weak bricks or changes in the stress state of the
Reduces effective thickness of section, and presents a hazard from loose
material when it occurs in overhead areas. Can indicate structural distress
of lining, particularly if joints appear to have closed up. Consider possible
causes and if necessary investigate before remediation.
British Waterways use the term weathering to describe spalling with a non-
structural cause.

3 Construction joint
Not a defect, but may look similar to a vertical crack. Joints are
distinguishable by their regular toothed appearance and continuity and have
thickened/irregular mortar joints.
In wet tunnels joints are often preferential pathways for water ingress, and
as a result they may suffer from localised deterioration (mortar deterioration
and loss and spalling from freeze/thaw action).
See Section 2.3.5 for more information on construction joints.

4 Vertical (circumferential) crack

Cracks can follow the mortar joints and/or pass through masonry units
(where they are relatively weak).
This defect would not normally affect the structural capacity of the lining but
can allow water ingress and gradual deterioration. Where cracking is open,
progressive or there is an offset across it consider and, if necessary,
investigate possible structural causes.
See Section 2.6.1 for a more detailed discussion of cracking.

5 Horizontal (longitudinal) crack

Cracks can follow the mortar joints and/or pass through masonry units
(where they are relatively weak).
Horizontal cracking may have a structural cause that should be considered
and if necessary investigated, particularly if cracking is open and/or
progressive. Can allow water ingress and gradual deterioration.
See Section 2.6.1 for a more detailed discussion of cracking.

6 Delamination
Face-parallel cracking/debonding within the lining, also ring separation in
arches. Often not visible but can be detected by hammer-tapping,
investigatory drilling or some NDT techniques such as radar/ultrasonics.
Sometimes indicated by surface bulging or cracking.
Can reduce effective structural capacity and resistance of the lining to
deformation. Cause should be investigated.

Table 4.3 Interpretation of common inspection and investigation observations (contd)


7 Bulging and distortion

Where parts of walls or arches are out of true, show bulges or other
irregularities it can be difficult to ascertain whether these are original
features or deformations in response to stress in the lining. Also
deformation can be longstanding or recent and possibly continuing.
Judgement is reliant on appearance (there may be associated deterioration)
and quality of past inspection and records. Distortions can result in local
reduction in lining capacity. Monitoring and/or investigation are advised
where structural causes are suspected.
See Figure 2.25 for further information.

8 Wet patches
Wetness affecting areas of masonry indicates water behind the lining and
general seepage through it. Water pathways are typically permeable mortar
joints or cracks between mortar and masonry units.
If previously dry areas become wet, inflow is severe, wet masonry is
deteriorating or if water is causing other problems investigation may be

9 Localised water ingress

Ingress of water from a specific location, feature or defect. There may be a
rapid flow, in which case there is an open water pathway through the lining
(typically mortar loss from joints, cracking or sometimes tree-root
If inflow is severe, wet masonry is deteriorating, or water is causing other
problems in the tunnel investigation may be necessary. If there is a build-up
of fine material that is being washed-out from behind the lining this may
indicate the gradual formation of voids, which can reduce lining stability.


1 Crack in radial flange at bolt hole location

Indicates radial flange overstress arising from ovalisation of lining.

2 Deformation of circle flange

Observed inward deformation of flange. Likely causes are either damage
from the time of construction, or a symptom of overstress. If the defect is
judged to be due to overstress, the problem could result in total loss of ring

3 Corrosion
Potential reduction in capacity, depending on the depth of corrosion relative
to the thickness of the section, as well as the total area and location
affected. May be associated with leakage and rust staining.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 119

Table 4.3 Interpretation of common inspection and investigation observations (contd)

4 Pin holes
Small pinhole leaks with rusting and staining. No significant effect on
capacity and serviceability of section but could develop into more
widespread general corrosion.

5 Missing flange (or missing part of)

May have resulted from intentional removal of material to improve tunnel
gauge. Will have the effect of reducing the section capacity depending on
the sectional area affected.

6 Corrosion at leaking joint

Typically visible as a build-up of rust and other deposits at the leaky joint. A
minor defect, but with the potential to cause general corrosion, and
progressive flaking and delamination causing gradual loss of section.
Indicates deterioration of jointing material and/or of any surrounding grout
or waterproofing systems.

7 Skin crack
In some cases the crack may cross the flanges and associated segment
displacement may be observed. Depending on the exact situation, the
segment has failed or is about to fail in shear.


1 Cracking parallel to cross-joints

Structurally this is not a defect. Cracks are likely to exist on the outer face of
the lining as well. Water will penetrate and depending on its chemical
characteristics may cause the concrete to deteriorate and lose strength.
Crack density relates to the amount of reinforcement provided.

Shallow spalling

2 Spalling
This is a local defect and can be shallow or deep (ie exposing the steel
Spalling may have been originally present due to a casting defect, or may
have later occurred through impact damage, corrosion of steel or chemical Deep spalling
action. If spalling is due to compressive forces resulting from excessive
loading this should be investigated further.

Table 4.3 Interpretation of common inspection and investigation observations (contd)

3 Corner spalling
This defect is due to out-of-plane construction. Under load this may result in
damage to the overstressed corner where there is contact between the
segments, which can reduce the lining strength.

4 Diagonal cracking
This is indicative of incipient compression failure. If it is localised it can be
due to a local weakness (for example, localised concrete degradation
resulting in strength loss) or a locally higher load whose nature should be

5 Spalling at edge of cross-joint

This is probably due to original out of plane construction as in the case of
incipient corner detachment. If the spall is the only visible defect the
structure has found its equilibrium position.
Load transfer at joints may be not happening through the full depth of the
structural section and further damage is possible if the load is increased.

6 Lipping at joint
This is a construction defect that has not caused any damage. The reduced
contact area of the joint means that this is a weak spot that may begin to
exhibit damage if loading increases.

7 Circumferential crack
A circumferential crack may indicate a bursting failure due to overloading or
inadequate longitudinal reinforcement. Examples have been noted where
the segment is acting as a jamb, at cross passage or shaft openings. This
defect would not normally affect the structural capacity of the lining but can
allow water ingress and gradual deterioration.

8 Cracking parallel to cross-joints with displacement

Causes of cracking should be investigated. Concrete strength may be
reduced due to the crack formation and friction sliding at the interface.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 121

Table 4.3 Interpretation of common inspection and investigation observations (contd)

9 Discontinuous cracking parallel to circle joints

Cause of the cracks should be investigated and this may require advice from
a materials engineer.

10 Water seepage
Can occur at joints where sealing material has failed or through cracks and
other discontinuities. In certain circumstances leaking fine cracks can self
heal (autogenous healing) and seal themselves.
If inflow is severe, concrete is deteriorating, or water is causing other problems
in the tunnel investigation may be necessary. If there is a build-up of fine
material which is being washed-out from behind the lining this may indicate the
gradual formation of voids, which can reduce lining stability. Thick build-ups of
mineral deposits can affect on tunnel clearances.


Structural assessment is one of the activities of the asset appraisal process and is intended
to evaluate the structural capacity and performance of an asset. More specifically, the
assessment is a check that the structure meets the basic requirements stipulated by
national standards and is adequately safe and serviceable. This section offers guidance on
structural assessment for asset management but is not intended as a detailed design guide.

The assessment is a verification process, similar to that used in structural design. Asset
owners specify different requirements for the processes of design and assessment of
existing structures in their internal specifications.

Some asset owners stipulate the need for valid assessments of all structural assets,
including tunnels, and specify procedures for achieving this within their own internal
standards. Others have no such formal requirements or specifications and assessments
may be carried out on an ad hoc basis only when a special need is recognised. Before
carrying out an assessment, the assessor should ascertain whether there are any special
requirements, such as the asset owner’s internal engineering standards and procedures,
which will need to be adhered to in addition to satisfying national standards, for example,
those giving guidance on the use of structural materials.

In some cases a tunnel may fail an assessment while being free of any sign of distress. This
is a controversial situation because in the face of apparently contradictory information it
may be difficult to assess whether the tunnel is in fact structurally inadequate or whether
there is an excessive level of conservatism in the assessment parameters or the assessment
method, or in the pass/fail criteria. Until this uncertainty can be adequately resolved the
tunnel represents an unquantified risk and special management measures may be
appropriate, for example, restrictions on use, increased vigilance through inspection and
monitoring, investigation to refine the assessment parameters or changes in assessment

Suitably experienced engineers may be able to exercise their judgement to help resolve
such issues by identifying tunnel-specific factors that might influence the assessment
results, considering the suitability of the pass/fail criteria adopted, or by modifying

assumptions made in the modelling, for example, the nature of the ground/structure
interaction. There is no general rule as to how to approach such a situation, so the
accuracy and reliability of the information used in the course of assessment and the
experience of the assessor are of paramount importance. Until such a time as the
uncertainty can be resolved with an adequate level of confidence, the tunnel should be
considered as structurally sensitive and managed accordingly to minimise risk.

Although infrastructure owners may have their own specific requirements, it is important
to understand that there is no codified or generally agreed methodology specifically
appropriate for the assessment of existing tunnels, and that given this situation
practitioners have developed a variety of approaches to carrying out assessments. The
approach set out here, although not the definitive method, provides a general outline of
the assessment process favoured by the authors, and includes a discussion of simple
assessment procedures for specific situations. This guide is not intended to be an
assessment manual and more details on the methods of analysis required for an
assessment can be found in Chapter 6 of the Tunnel lining design guide (BTS and ICE,

Finally in this section, recommendations are given on the consideration of structural

defects in structural models.

Except for cast iron linings, the assessment procedures described in this publication are specific
applications of the limit state design philosophy embraced by most current international design
standards, including all of those recognised in the UK.
This section includes a general discussion of the principal methods of, and approaches to, the structural
assessment of tunnels. More detailed information, intended for practicing assessors, is given in
Appendix A7. This provides a unified, rational methodology appropriate for a wide range of assessment
situations, and is compliant with existing codes where these are relevant. It also gives a more detailed
discussion of the application of limit state principles, including a method proposed as suitable for
carrying out the limit state assessment of cast iron linings, discusses the identification of the various
load combinations to be included in assessments, and offers guidance on selection of an appropriate
method of analysis and the definition of the structural resistances.

4.9.1 Assessment in principle

The assessment method depends on whether the lining is:

 cast iron
 cast steel
 reinforced concrete.

The assessment of masonry and reinforced concrete linings should be carried out in
accordance with limit state principles. Cast iron linings should be assessed on a permissible
stress basis, due to the brittle nature of this material and the lack of appropriate partial
safety factors for limit state analysis.

From an operational point of view limit state analysis means that both loads and
resistances are factored to cover uncertainties and to provide a margin of safety (see
Appendix A7). Also, the resistances are the ultimate resistances of the structural

In the permissible stress approach loads are unfactored. The check on structural
components is a simple check that the permissible stress is not exceeded at any point in
the component. The permissible stress is obtained by applying a reduction factor to the

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 123

strength of the material. Safe working stresses can be taken from BD21/01 (HA 2001). To
avoid confusion, note that formally in BD21/01 loads for cast iron permissible stress
assessment are presented as factored by 1.0 rather than unfactored.

An assessment can be qualitative, be based on the results of tests, or be analytical. It is not

practical to resort to an assessment based on tests of complete tunnel linings and so only
the qualitative and analytical assessments are used.

Both assessment methods involve the definition of a structure (in terms of geometry,
properties and conditions of the materials and relationship with the surrounding
environment), the identification of the foreseeable actions on it and the definition of the
mechanism by which these actions are resisted. All these aspects are covered, though by a
different strategy, in both the limit state and the permissible stress methods. Qualitative assessment

An asset owner often has more than one tunnel, but the analysis of all tunnels is generally
not necessary because proving that some of them are safe equates to proving that other
similar ones are at least as safe, subject to certain qualifications (detailed below). This
approach is similar to checking only the most stressed beam in a steel structure where all
the beams are made out of the same structural section.

Qualitative assessment of a structure involves the identification of a similar structure

whose safety level is known, and inferring the performance of the tunnel under
assessment from the known tunnel. Such an approach relies on demonstrating the validity
of these assumptions.

There are two classes of qualitative assessment:

1 The two structures (as far as is significant from an engineering point of view) can be
deemed to possess the same geometry and materials and the one to be assessed will be
subject to the same or lower loads than the one used as a reference.
2 The two structures are to withstand the same loads but the one to be assessed is more

By this approach the assessment process is mainly a matter of classification of assets and
the information provided by previous assessments (if available) can be readily used.

Although qualitative assessment provides a straightforward and efficient approach to

assessing the structural safety of a large number of similar assets, it is reliant on adequate
knowledge of the individual structures and an informed understanding of the potential
significance of any differences between them. No two structures are identical and for this
approach to be satisfactory the judgement on their equivalence should be entrusted to an
engineer with the appropriate experience to consider all the parameters characterising

Aspects to be considered in the assessment include:

 tunnel shape
 use (current and future)

 ground conditions
 water conditions
 aggressive environment
 age and life
 method of construction.

Comprehensive and reliable data are required for this approach, because it is necessary to
identify unexpected sources of difference that might otherwise not be apparent. A desk
study of existing information should be carried out to identify factors such as local
geological variations (for example, the presence of scour holes, faults and shear zones).
This should be supplemented by up-to-date observations from visual inspection to identify
factors such as unrecorded alterations and variations in construction, evidence of
movement or deterioration. Analytical assessment

To set out the principles of the analytical assessment it is convenient to group the principal
different types of tunnels and then describe the analytical assessment suitable for each

The first distinction to be made is between actual tunnels and structures that are serving
as tunnels but are in fact more similar to bridges. In some asset owners’ standards this
distinction is indicated by the use of terms such as deep and shallow tunnels, although this
terminology is not technically justified. It has been suggested that a more appropriate
distinction is between bored and cut-and-cover tunnels, but again this does not clearly
distinguish between those structures that behave as tunnels and those that behave as
bridges. The decision as to whether an asset belongs to one category or the other is made
by an appropriately experienced and competent assessor based on the specific
circumstances of the structure.

Tunnels that can be considered to act as bridges are shallow tunnels and in most cases cut-
and-cover construction. In such cases the side walls can be regarded as abutments to decks
supporting highways or even buildings. As these decks have been built over a long period
of time their construction form spans a wide range of possibilities, for example, (in
chronological order):

 masonry vaults
 cast or wrought iron girders supporting brick jack arches
 reinforced concrete
 steel (generally concrete encased for fire and corrosion protection).

When these decks support highways or railways they should be assessed as bridges in
compliance with the codes. In some instances they support structures/buildings. This will
almost certainly require a bespoke analysis. Often, for small buildings, the decks have been
used as a base for pad foundations and there is no relation between the structure of the
building and the structure of the deck. In such cases the loads at building foundation level
should be applied as point loads to the decks factored as appropriate for the specific deck
element being assessed.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 125

In the remainder of this section the general principles established by the main asset
owners as described in their internal specifications, are given for tunnels that act as
tunnels. The main construction types addressed are: masonry linings, cast iron linings and
reinforced and plain concrete linings. Steel linings are unusual in UK and will be briefly
addressed in the section on cast iron linings.

Note that the analytical assessment may be very sensitive to parameters like ground
pressure coefficients (Ka, Kp, Ko) and stiffness of the lining. The assessor should give
careful consideration to the choice of the appropriate parameters. Checks on the
sensitivity of the model to a range of possible parameter values may be appropriate, and
will add confidence in the assessment results.

Masonry linings
Masonry is the oldest structural material. Elastic methods of analysis are not suitable for
such a complex material as masonry so limit methods of analysis are used by engineers.

The upper and lower bound theorems of limit analysis form the basis for the assessment.
In particular, according to the lower bound theorem, it is not important to find the actual
configuration of the internal forces in a structure under a given set of external actions. If
at least one distribution of internal forces compatible with the material strengths and
equilibrating the applied loads can be found then the structure can be considered as safe.

This approach was originally introduced by Jacques Heyman for masonry arch bridges
and masonry domes (Heyman, 1966). Heyman assumed that masonry was infinitely
strong in compression. Refinements to the original Heyman approach to allow for non-
infinite resistance of masonry in compression have been introduced more recently
(Crisfield and Packham, 1987).

The method consists of finding a line of thrust equilibrating the applied loads that can be
actually developed within the masonry structure.

In the case of a tunnel lining, the applied loads are those from the ground and water on
the lining (actions from inside the tunnel can also be taken into account if necessary).

When the actions on the lining have been defined, a line of thrust balancing them can be
sought by graphical or analytical methods. The tunnel is considered safe if the line of
thrust found is compatible with resistance of the lining at all cross-sections. This amounts
to a check that at each cross-section the line of thrust is contained within the cross-section
by a sufficient amount to ensure that the axial force at the section can be balanced by
stresses lower than or equal to the strength of the masonry. This is shown in Figure 4.2 for
a circular tunnel.

Figure 4.2 Diagram illustrating the application of the limit analysis method to a masonry
tunnel lining in principle

The actions of ground and water on the lining can be conservatively assumed as the action
on a rigid wished in place impermeable tunnel (often referred to as full overburden).
Alternatively, the actions can be modified to allow for relaxation of the soil due to the
inelastic deformation of the tunnel at collapse. Guidance on the effects of relaxation and
the geotechnical properties of the ground should be obtained from a suitably competent
geotechnical engineer. The compressive strength of in situ masonry should ideally be
determined by appropriate testing or in the absence of test results by adopting suitably
conservative values based on guidance given in available standards, for example, BS 5628-
1 (BSI, 2005b) and EN 1996-1-2 (BSI, 2005c).

Some masonry linings do not have an invert. In such cases it should be checked that soil
and water will not penetrate into the tunnel by using classical geotechnical methods with a
sufficient degree of safety. Foundations to the lining should also be checked in this case. Cast iron and steel linings

Cast iron linings can be assessed using elastic methods of analysis that are vital when
dealing with grey cast iron. This is the only form of cast iron used in tunnel linings until
recent decades. More modern ductile (spheroidal graphite) cast iron may be treated as for
steel. Due to the brittle nature of grey cast iron (especially in tension) and lack of
standards for limit state analysis, a permissible stress approach is preferred. Guidance on
this can be found in BD21/01 (HA, 2001) and in LU Engineering Standard E3322. The
assessment involves the determination of the axial force and the bending moment at any
cross-section of a lining ring (see Chapter 2 for construction details of this type of lining).
Closed form solutions have been given for tunnels in soils that can be assumed as linear-
elastic (Curtis, 1974 and Einstein and Schwartz, 1979). These solutions are valid for an
isolated tunnel in a homogeneous medium with a uniform surcharge at surface level.
Empirical rules to make allowance for joints are also available. For other cases an
estimation to the elastic solution can be found by numerical methods (finite elements,
finite differences or boundary elements).

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 127

It is usually necessary to calculate the axial force and the bending moment at the crown
and the horizontal axis of the tunnel lining only. Once these have been determined the
corresponding point in the axial-bending plane can be plotted on a chart together with
the interaction diagram of the cross-section of the cast iron elements forming a lining ring.
An interaction diagram is a curve (a sequence of straight lines) enclosing all points
representing safe stress conditions for the lining. The interaction diagrams can be easily
constructed based on the cross-sectional properties of the lining and the permissible
stresses for the material. Failure of bolts can also be superimposed on the same diagrams.
The procedure for establishing whether the lining passes the assessment once the axial
force and the bending moment have been determined is shown in Figure 4.3. In the
figure the points below the dotted lines are representative of bolt failure. The part of the
elastic interaction diagram corresponding to tensile axial force is unrealistic for tunnel
linings. From the diagram it is evident that bolt failure at joints is unlikely to be a principal
failure condition. Bolts are in fact used mainly for construction reasons. The capacity of
the ribs to transfer the actions of the bolts to the skin should also be checked.

Figure 4.3 Assessment of cast iron linings

Material properties of the cast iron should be determined by reference to BD21 (HA,
2001) for older grey cast iron, by testing, or by referring to the relevant literature (taking
into account the information on the manufacturer if marked on the components).

Steel linings can be assessed by using the same methodology but replacing the elastic
interaction diagrams with plastic ones and using axial forces and bending moments
derived applying loads factored by the appropriate partial safety factors. The partial safety
factors for loads can be obtained from BS 5950-1 (BSI, 2000). Information on the analysis
of steel castings can be found in SCI (1996).

Simplified rules for carrying out a rapid preliminary estimation of axial forces and
bending moments acting on a metal lining are given in Section 4.10.2 on multilevel
assessment procedures.

Concrete linings
Concrete linings can be pre-cast or in situ, reinforced or plain concrete. Even linings that
are considered to be plain concrete will normally contain a nominal quantity of
reinforcement. In all cases the assessment procedure is not dissimilar from that of cast
iron linings discussed previously, except that in this case limit state analysis is carried out
in accordance with BS 8110 (BSI, 1985), which gives guidance on the use of structural

concrete in construction. The main difference is that factored loads are used for the
determination of bending moments and axial forces, which are compared with the
ultimate resistances of the cross-sections determined by elasto-plastic analysis rather than
by a permissible stress approach.

The interaction diagrams for reinforced concrete columns found in BS 8110-3 (BSI,
1985), can be used for the assessment of tunnel linings. Alternatively the engineer can
derive these using well-established techniques (De Vivo, 1998). There is a wealth of
commercially available proprietary software for their determination.

The closed form solutions and the numerical techniques as suggested for the
determination of axial forces and bending moments in cast iron linings are applicable to
concrete linings as well.

When assessing concrete linings, particular care should be taken in the assessment of
joints, although joint details in concrete linings are not adequately covered by the available
standards. Joints are often designed to limit the contact area between consecutive
elements to make them act like pins. In this way the bending moments attracted by the
lining are kept to a minimum and the soil is supported mainly by hoop action. The
adverse effect is that large bursting forces may arise at the contact locations.

These joints are often designed based on test results and it is difficult to define a reliable
analytical technique for their assessment. In this situation some assessors use the general
rules for the design of pre-stressed reinforced concrete end blocks.

In general, if the loading regime on the lining has not been altered from the original
design and no sign of degradation is visible, joints should be safe. There is no consensus
on how to approach an assessment of joints under new conditions and there is no general
guidance available now.

4.9.2 Multi-level assessment procedure

It is common practice, and appropriate, to minimise the analytical effort required if it can
be demonstrated that relatively complex and refined methods of analysis are not necessary
in particular circumstances. This is especially convenient when a large number of assets
are to be assessed. Note that in contrast to design, in an assessment it is not an issue if the
structure is more robust than required. Guidance is given on simple and robust
approaches to analysis that will provide conservative and adequately reliable results.

In the simplest case a qualitative assessment, based on comparison with similar structures
already assessed, may be adequate.

Assessments are intended to provide a pass or fail result and, beyond this, how close the
assessment effects are to the assessment resistances is not of great concern. So if it can be
proven that a simplified model is more conservative than a more rigorous one, this simple
model can be used for the assessment. More refined methods of analysis may only become
necessary when failure is predicted by the results of the simple model. This presents an
efficient approach to the assessment of tunnels with a high degree of safety.

This approach leads to a multi-level assessment procedure starting with a very simple and
conservative analysis and is refined only if a more rigorous analysis offers the likelihood of
an assessment pass. A multi-level approach is also convenient for reducing the risk of
errors as the simple models assist the interpretation of results from complex models,
which can help to identify errors or modelling inadequacies.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 129

Because simple models are based on very pessimistic assumptions, they are useful where
the parameters required for a more sophisticated assessment cannot be derived with an
adequate degree of certainty.

Simplifications can be introduced into an analysis either by simplifying the determination

of the assessment effects or by simplifying the determination of the assessment resistances,
although the latter does not generally result in a great simplification.

The first simplification that can be introduced is the reduction of the problem to 2D by
enforcing symmetry. This excludes variability of loads along the longitudinal axis of the
tunnel and precludes explicit representation of the construction process, making the
wished in place assumption preferable. In this case, the stresses in the ground during
construction can still be simulated by resorting to an axi-symmetric model, but this
involves some degree of expertise and is not recommended except where validating the
results of 3D models. Details like openings and junctions cannot be directly assessed in 2D
because they lack the necessary symmetry, but in most cases these elements can be assessed
by combining the results from several 2D models, as is discussed further in this section.

In 2D the simplest possible analysis that can be carried out on a tunnel involves the
application of the stresses in the ground to the lining extrados, calculated as if the tunnel
were not there. This is a conservative method because the beneficial effects of ground
structure interaction are neglected. Note that loads internal to the lining (for example,
from traffic) cannot be applied in this way. This approach can be used to rapidly assess the
order of magnitude of hoop stresses. Note also that there are some practical difficulties
connected with the boundary conditions when applying this method, in particular that
most commercial software cannot find a solution for models that have no restraints but are
under loads that are in balance. If the geometry of the structure and loads are
symmetrical this can be circumvented by using a reduced model in which the symmetry
conditions are exploited by introducing appropriate fictitious restraints (see Figure 4.4).

Figure 4.4 Exploiting the symmetry conditions to avoid boundary condition problems

If such symmetry does not exist, fictitious restraints should be introduced. As these should
not induce any forces in the structure under the given load conditions (the associated
reactions should be nil) they should be carefully chosen to avoid any redundancy while
still yielding an inherently stable structure. The analyst should be fully aware of the
limitations of the software being used when dealing with these issues.

A more refined level of analysis involves considering the ground as a Winkler’s springs
bed (a boundary condition imposing, at any point of the lining, a reaction proportional to
the displacement) and apply to the lining the ground loads acting on its extrados surface

(calculated again as if the tunnel was not there). Guidance on selection of an appropriate
stiffness for the Winkler’s springs can be found in the literature and in this approach all
loads can be applied to the tunnel (O’Rourke, 1984 and Duddeck and Erdman, 1985). It
is important to note that this method is not necessarily conservative, as overestimation of
the Winkler’s springs bed would result in underestimation of the assessment effect on the
lining. This applies to all models allowing for ground/structure interaction.

In the cases above preliminary analysis of the stresses in the ground without the tunnel is
required. Any surcharge is taken into account in this preliminary phase.

The next step is to model the ground as a continuum (this can be linear or, with additional
complexity, nonlinear) in which case ground and lining are modelled together and the
surcharge is applied directly to the ground. When the lining is modelled as a continuum,
rather than by using a beam type idealisation, concentrations of stresses at sharp corners –
typically the side wall and invert junctions – can suggest that the lining is locally
overstressed. These local stress concentrations are usually accommodated in the real
structure by plasticity or local damage that allows scope for stress redistribution. Plasticity
and damage can be introduced into the material model to find a more realistic stress
distribution automatically. Alternatively the analytical picture can be clarified by
examining the stress distribution in the lining cross-section just away from, and either side
of the junction across the thickness of the lining. This should give a more credible stress
distribution, which can then be faired around the corner, smoothing notional local peak
stresses down by using an equivalent rectangular stress block as given in BS 5628-1 (BSI,
2005b) and BS 8110-3 (BSI, 1985).

For shallow tunnels with masonry lining (where they act more like bridges than tunnels),
limit analysis methods in the Heyman fashion can be used (Page, 1994) or the semi
empirical MEXE method can be used if the shape of the masonry vault is within its
applicability limits (Hughes and Blackler, 1997).

The different levels of analysis defined can be done by using closed form solutions or by
numerical analysis.

As previously noted, closed form solutions exist for:

 circular linings for application of full load pre-existing in the ground before tunnel
 models using Winkler’s springs
 modelling the ground as a continuum provided this is homogeneous, isotropic and
linear elastic.

Some available closed form solutions are listed in Table 4.4.

Table 4.4 Closed form solution for analysis of tunnel lining

Method Tunnel shape Type

Muir Wood, 1975 Circular Elastic continuum

Curtis, 1976 Circular Elastic continuum

Einstein and Schwartz, 1979 Circular Visco-elastic continuum

ITA, 1998 Any Ground modelled as Winkler’s springs bed

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 131

Alternatively analytical assessment can be approached numerically by the use of any of the
finite elements, boundary elements, finite differences and discrete element analysis
software packages available commercially. Although such methods require a more
sophisticated approach they may be justified in the following situations to:

 not impose constraints on the tunnel geometry

 permit the use of complex constitutive models for the materials
 allow 3D models that can be solved only numerically.

Some features, such as junctions, do not possess the necessary symmetry to be analysed in
2D, so either numerical analysis should be used or simplified methods may be
appropriate. At the junction, the hoop force mechanism of resistance is not possible in the
lining because of the opening. The hoop forces that would exist if the opening was not
there should then be redistributed either into the portions of lining adjacent to the
junction/opening or in a framing structure if present. In the first case the width of lining
to be considered in the redistribution on each side of the opening can be estimated by
suitable 2D analyses. Bending of the lining spanning between the complete rings on the
sides of the opening should also be checked. This procedure is not very rigorous and
involves some engineering judgement but the results should be relatively safe if ductile
materials are involved. Special care should be taken if brittle materials are involved and in
such circumstances more refined analysis or the application of a factor to allow for the
inaccuracy of the analysis is recommended.

4.9.3 Structural defects

Defects in tunnel linings can be due to deterioration of materials, imperfect construction

or manufacture, misuse of the structure, impact and fire. Defects can affect both the effects
and the resistances. When assessing the influence of defects in the course of a structural
analysis the following points should be considered:

 deterioration can be taken into account by using reduced properties for the
deteriorated materials. The properties should ideally be determined directly by
testing either in situ or on samples of the material taken from the structure.
 corrosion can be allowed for by using reduced structural sections taking into account
the loss of material due to corrosion
 imperfect construction can result in deviation from the design shape or misaligned
joints. This defect is difficult to deal with because surveying the tunnel would give the
deformed shape under the actual load. The derivation of the undeformed shape, for
comparison with the design shape of the tunnel, is not easy. Sometimes the size of the
strains in the lining is such that the current shape is mainly the result of defective
construction. If this can be proved then the current shape obtained from a survey can
be used in the analysis as the undeformed initial shape
 misalignment of joints results in localised contact stresses or overstressing of bolts.
This generally causes only local damage, for example, spalling of concrete at joint
edges. Specific checks (if required) include finite element modelling of the contact at
the joint or use of simplified methods based on the lower and upper bound theorems
for ductile materials
 misuse of the structure and impact should be dealt with by methods selected on a
specific basis
 structures damaged by fires should be assessed using the material properties of the in
situ material after the fire event (see Section 2.6.3). Loss of section due to removal of
damaged materials should be noted.

Further information on defects and their potential structural influence can be found in
Section 4.8 of this guide. It should be noted that some defects are of no structural
significance and do not require any attention. The notes in Table 4.3 give further
guidance on this.


Following completion of site inspections, and other investigations or assessments that may
have been carried out, it is necessary to evaluate the results and determine the need for
any further investigation, monitoring or repair work (other than planned maintenance).
Further investigation and/or analysis of deteriorated or damaged elements may be
required to assess current reserves of strength and factors of safety, and also to estimate
the time that the repairs should take to be completed. In some cases it may be sufficient to
initiate a monitoring programme, or it may be necessary to monitor for a further period
of time for a reliable diagnosis (Swannell, 2003).

4.10.1 Reporting inspection and investigation results

Section 4.3.5 discusses some methods of improving the objectivity, reliability and efficiency
of making and recording inspection results.

The records from a visual inspection should normally include, at a minimum:

General information:
 general details of the tunnel (its name, asset reference, location, construction type and
any changes, length etc)
 the aim of the inspection and its scope, including identification of any parts of the
structure that were not inspected and why
 the date and details of the previous inspection, including reference to the documents
being used and acknowledgement of any special requirements identified for this
 the methods used in the inspection (whether touching-distance or not, description of
access methods and lighting provisions, details of any in situ testing and assessment
 details of environmental conditions (including weather on the day of the inspection
and preferably a general comment for the weather prevailing over the preceding few
days, in particular temperature and rainfall)
 details of any problems encountered, particularly where these might affect the
inspection results (eg with access, obstructions, lack of time, other activities taking
place in the tunnel, difficult working conditions).

Objective inspection results:

 concisely annotated tunnel plan with the results of the inspection, including locations,
and notes on features of interest such as defects
 supplementary information, typically comprising clear sketches, and annotated with
detailed observations, measurements and photographs as appropriate
 the results of any in situ testing carried out (eg hammer-tapping, hardness testing)
 comments on any issues highlighted by the previous inspection that needs future
 comments on any apparent changes since the previous inspection.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 133

Subjective/interpretative elements:
 a statement on the overall condition of the tunnel
 identification of those areas considered to be worst with explanatory comments
 a statement of any issues that require immediate or urgent attention
 identification of elements or circumstances that require special attention in future
 a statement of the need for follow-up inspection, investigation or monitoring and its
urgency (ie should be carried out urgently, or before the next planned inspection, or
during the next planned inspection)
 identifying any other issues relating to the asset and its performance in general,
particularly, under the inspector’s duty of care as a responsible person, where they
might affect the safety of tunnel users or staff (eg evidence of unauthorised entry,
presence of hazardous objects or materials, defective or damaged elements of tunnel

Ideally reporting should be carried out to a predefined format, preferably using proforma
sheets, which might include a simple base-plan of the tunnel for inspectors to identify the
location of features of interest and make concise notes. These locations should be cross-
referenced to proforma, which includes further and more detailed information (sketches,
descriptions, photographs etc).

Asset owners will have their own requirements for the procedures of inspection, condition
assessment and reporting, and of the roles, responsibilities and required competencies of
the individuals involved.

For inspection results, the suitability of including items that require some interpretation,
such as recommendations for future inspections and their urgency, or identification of the
worst areas of the tunnel, will largely depend on the nature of the problems themselves
and the competence of the inspection staff. It is necessary for all information, and
particularly subjective elements such as recommendations, to be reviewed by an
appropriately knowledgeable and experienced engineer capable of interpreting the data,
identifying any issues that require further action and deciding what action is most
appropriate. However, it is important that inspectors are given an opportunity to present
their own interpretation of their observations based on their first-hand experience, and
experience of similar situations. Inspectors may be in a better position than an engineer
back in the office to see the bigger picture and to make deductions based on many
disparate observations. This might not be readily apparent to a reviewing engineer
presented only with a few objective descriptions. It is useful for both parties to contribute
their own strengths and experiences to the matter of interpretation.

Inspection results are likely to be more useful and reliable if inspectors are able to take an
active part in the interpretation of their own observations, so they should be suitably
competent. Quality of results is also aided by consistency of staff, methodology and
records between inspections. Also, it may be improved and assured through suitable
checking and auditing procedures.

4.10.2 Initial evaluation and identification of sensitive structures

From the results of inspections, clear structural failures (eg deformed linings, fractured
beams) and many forms of structural deterioration can be readily identified and evaluated
accordingly. Traditionally this has proved to be a good basis for carrying out reactive
repairs, but the ideal is to move from a reactive to a proactive, preventative regime of
maintenance. This is a greater challenge, requiring a more detailed evaluation of changes

in tunnel condition and a good understanding of its performance, the factors that can
potentially affect it, and how these changes might manifest themselves. The difficulty
comes in identifying those tunnels or parts of tunnels that are undergoing slow stress
changes (eg through consolidation of ground or gradual weakening of structural fabric).
Visible evidence of increasing structural stress may not be manifest at an early stage, but
could potentially result in failure at a later date.

Knowing where to look and what to look for is very important, and this relies on carrying
out an initial engineering evaluation of each tunnel based on its current condition and
other available information. This is one area in which analytical assessment can be a useful
tool, because it has the potential to highlight those tunnels, areas and elements that are
the most structurally sensitive. The results can be used to focus and improve the
effectiveness of surveillance of condition, allowing problems to be identified at an early
stage, potentially before they would be picked up by a routine inspection. The aim is to
identify and monitor the critical indicators of condition.

Based on engineering assessment results, tunnels which are identified as not specially
sensitive, operationally or structurally, may be subject to a continuing regime of routine
procedures for condition assessment, for example, periodic visual inspections at
prescribed minimum intervals (see Section 4.3.2).

Tunnels or parts of tunnels that are identified as being particularly structurally sensitive or
operationally critical should be further assessed to determine the optimum strategy for
evaluating their condition and identifying and responding proactively to any significant
changes. This may involve carrying out additional surveillance over-and-above the
routine, general inspection, which is adequate for less sensitive tunnels, for example:

 detailed engineering evaluations, which may require further investigation of the

tunnel’s structure or the condition of specific sensitive elements and may involve
structural assessment and analysis
 special inspections that might be at a greater frequency than routine inspections and
focus on specific indicators of condition and performance
 periodic or continuous measurement of specific parameters, for example, deflection
and distortion, using suitable techniques and instrumentation.

Whether or not a tunnel is classified as being especially critical, improvements in the

collection and evaluation of data on condition and performance are likely to result in
more effective asset stewardship, underpinning attempts to move toward a more proactive
and efficient system of tunnel management.

4.10.3 Interpretation of results

The safety and serviceability of tunnels depends on the quality of the data obtained in the
course of routine inspections and investigations, and on the quality of the interpretation
by which tunnel condition is assessed and maintenance and repair needs identified.
Interpretation can only be as good as the data from the investigation.

The importance of good interpretation cannot be overstated, and there is no substitute for
a thorough understanding of tunnel construction, the factors that influence tunnel
performance and behaviour, and the significance of observations and defects. In this way,
the knowledge and experience of tunnel inspectors, assessors and engineers has a direct
influence on the quality of tunnel management.

Great care should be taken when extrapolating data and making judgement about

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 135

parameters that were either not directly measured or where the accuracy of the data is
suspect. For example, older tunnels will have been constructed using imperial units, so in
this context metric dimensions and whole rounded numbers in metric measurements
should be checked.

Tunnels and their environments are subject to gradual change but information from a
single inspection or investigation represents only the condition at that time. This is
adequate for some purposes, but used in isolation it provides no indication of how
parameters may have changed over time. Where an inspection identifies a potentially
significant change in condition, interpretation relies on the results of previous inspections,
and the importance of a repeatable and consistently high standard of observation and
recording (along with the consistency of inspection methodology and the inspection staff
themselves) becomes clear.

Care should be exercised in the interpretation of test results from localised sampling and
testing, because the tunnel’s structural fabric may be variable and so it is important that
undue weight should not be given to individual results. Individual rogue results should
not be ignored, because they may provide important insights.

Further discussion is included in Section 4.4.2 on investigation strategies.

4.10.4 Condition ratings

Each of the major UK infrastructure tunnel owners has its own systems and procedures
for condition assessment and reporting, so that requirements for data collection are
dictated by the needs of the owner. As discussed in Section 4.3.5, such systems are
designed to make objective and standardise inspection information to allow it to be more
easily interpreted and compared. Typically, the tunnel condition is assessed by considering
the extent and severity of any defects and an overall condition rating is awarded to the
structure. Recommended actions and priorities can be indicated against each identified
defect. A typical condition classification system would have simple condition grades, for
example, from A to E, where A represented an asset in an ideal condition and E
represented a serious safety concern. This type of classification system provides both an
absolute and a relative measure of condition that can be used in several ways:

 to identify tunnels where current condition is unsatisfactory or even unsafe

 to rank tunnels and defects within tunnels in terms of their priority for further
assessment and/or remedial actions
 to provide a benchmark against which asset condition (of individual tunnels and the
tunnel stock as a whole) can be monitored over time, and the success of management
and maintenance policy can be evaluated.

Other information on the tunnel, its past performance and maintenance history is also
considered. Using this information, current tunnel performance and condition is assessed
against serviceability criteria that are assigned by the asset owner. These criteria will
include standards for safety as well as structural and operational performance and will
vary according to the infrastructure type and owner policies and objectives.

The condition classification indicates the relative level of concern with the asset. There are
two generic types of asset concerns:

1 Safety.
2 Performance.

Safety concerns are associated with defects or hazards that could potentially cause failure
of the asset or may endanger life or cause significant disruption to the service.
Performance concerns relate to defects or hazards that, although not causing a risk of
structural failure, may be detrimental to the normal operation of the tunnel and related
infrastructure. However, if performance concerns are not addressed they could eventually
deteriorate and become safety concerns in the future. The main difference is that action
on safety concerns should be undertaken urgently or immediately, whereas serviceability
concerns could potentially be addressed as part of routine maintenance or left to a later
date (although this may not be the most efficient way of dealing with them). Where safety
concerns are identified in the course of condition assessment, there should be suitable
procedures for dealing with these urgently, by assessing the risk and taking appropriate
mitigation measures such as an increased frequency of inspections or some other method
of monitoring, undertaking temporary or permanent remedial works, or restricting
tunnel use.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 137

5 Selecting and carrying out works on
tunnels and shafts


5.1.1 Planning and programming

The decision to carry out works within a tunnel may be based on a routine maintenance
regime (see Section 3.4), in response to a deterioration of condition, or to address a need
to improve or alter its structure. Continuing deterioration should ideally be picked up
during routine inspections and dealt with as part of routine maintenance wherever
possible, so that the tunnel’s condition and performance is not allowed to get worse.

Apart from routine maintenance works, which should be detailed by the tunnel owner or
asset steward in written procedures and maintenance documents, it will be necessary to
prepare structural designs and specifications for more extensive repair works or for
replacement of tunnel linings.

Generally, where works are of a structural nature the tunnel owner or asset steward
should take advice from a specialist professional engineer or suitable contractor who is
deemed competent and has a proven track record in carrying out similar works, unless
the required design capabilities are available in-house.

Structural designs should consider the stability of the tunnel and the safety of operatives at
all stages of any proposed demolition and reconstruction, and for proceeding
incrementally in multiple stages where access for work is restricted, as is normally the case
for transport tunnels. This may require careful planning and co-ordination if acceptable
rates of working are to be achieved. The design should also consider the effect the works
may have on adjacent tunnels or underground excavations.

If the available access periods are very short compared to the total time required for the
works, so that the works need to be carried out over such periods, a relatively high
proportion of available time may be taken up in activities such as:

 safety procedures
 gaining access to and from the work site
 transporting plant and materials
 setting up and dismantling temporary access equipment
 making safe any incomplete works at the end of each session.

In such situations productivity is likely to suffer and the time required to complete the
work, and its cost, may be significantly increased. Such piecemeal working is likely to be
uneconomic compared with closing the tunnel for a single period and accepting the
resultant disruption to its normal service. So there may be other factors that influence the
decision such as technical and health and safety.

Another aspect to be considered at an early stage is how the works will be carried out and
what procurement measures need to be put in place.

Working in tunnels typically requires specialist skills and techniques, and a good
understanding of safety procedures and safe methods of working. Contractors who are
unfamiliar with working in a tunnel environment may lack the experience necessary to
understand the particular constraints they are likely to be working within and may fail to
foresee potential problems at the planning stage. Potential contractors should be carefully
assessed before being allowed to tender for this type of work. Ideally they should be able
to demonstrate a good track record in similar work, with a professional, flexible and co-
operative approach, remaining focused on achieving project aims even when unforeseen
circumstances require changes to the work scope (Swannell, 2003).

The tunnel owner or asset steward may have a maintenance team available to carry out
routine maintenance works, or provisions in place such as call-off or term contracts with a
suitable contractor. An important consideration when carrying routine maintenance works
using external contractors is that the tunnel owner or asset steward should have direct
control or management during the works. This may include direct supervision or
direction of the works under a suitable contractual arrangement that allows the works to
be carried out unhindered by cost or quality constraints, such as target cost or total
reimbursement contracts. Where more extensive remedial or strengthening works are
required, project specific contracts may need to be procured under a conventional
engineer design and contractor build or contractor design-and-build route. Again direct
supervision of such projects should ideally be carried out by the tunnel owner or asset
steward, or appointed engineer.

In any case, contracting arrangements that clearly assign responsibilities to each party and
encourage co-operative working are beneficial.

5.1.2 Managing risk

Unforeseen circumstances, such as encountering unanticipated conditions or restrictions,

or the discovery of hidden structural details, are not uncommon when carrying out works
on tunnels. This can cause serious disruption to programme and increase costs, resulting
in significant variation to contracts. Although thorough research and a carefully designed
and executed site investigation can help to minimise such risks, the full extent of repairs
cannot always be determined in advance, and unforeseen circumstances can still arise to
challenge planned methods of working. Where uncertainty remains it is important to
reduce the potential consequences of unforeseen problems by ensuring that all parties
involved adopt a flexible approach and that good channels of communication are
established at an early stage in any project. It is worthwhile giving consideration to possible
alternative construction details, work scopes or methods based on the most likely scenarios
and ensuring that contracts accommodate such variations wherever it is practical.

Generic risks that should be assessed as a part of contracts for tunnel works include:

 health and safety and environmental
 incidental and indirect.

These risks apply to most if not all construction and repair works, so they require careful
consideration when carrying out tunnel works because their likelihood and their potential
consequences may be greater than with other types of structure.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 139

To optimise the safety and efficiency of tunnel works, and to ensure that they satisfy
objectives, it is vital that all the appropriate preparatory work is undertaken:

 identify and establish causes of deterioration and defects (through inspections or

examinations on-site)
 undertake a desktop study to collect information on the history of the structure
including previous inspection reports, works completed etc and to identify
parameters important to design and for further remedial works
 identify the need for further site or structural investigations or examinations to
confirm the structural dimensions and the properties of the fabric of the tunnel and
the geological and geotechnical setting
 hazards and risks should be identified and assessed, and measures used to mitigate
risks and ensure that any residual risk is acceptable and ALARP
 consideration of the requirement for and effects of temporary works and working
 ensure that material specifications are compatible with existing fabric of the tunnel
 assess the adequacy of the existing fabric of the tunnel at each stage of the works
 consider the immediate structural and engineering consequences of the works and
their effects on the long-term performance of the tunnel
 contractual requirements to complete the works should be considered if not already
in place, and enforced, eg use of term or call-off contracts, design and build contract,
or use of owners own maintenance staff
 site access should be planned and secured and all necessary permits and
authorisations obtained including approval of conceptual and final designs with
consideration of shared access between other users or asset owners
 temporary works should be approved and clearances checked
 staff should be appropriately trained and have the necessary skills and experience
(competence) to undertake the work.

5.1.3 Selection of techniques

Selection of the most appropriate remedial works should include consideration of several
factors (Broomhead and Clark, 1995):

 type of fault to be repaired

 ease of access
 environmental, health and safety, heritage considerations and constraints
 available clearances
 length of possession times/lane closure requirements
 cost of repair options
 expertise required to execute repairs and contractor availability
 performance, long-term durability and maintenance requirements of repairs
 purpose of repair and ability to satisfy requirements
 obstruction of future inspections.

Also the following should be taken into account when considering the scope and method
of the works adopted:

 existing condition of area or areas to be repaired and areas adjacent to the part to be
 history of the tunnel, including type and method of construction and previous
remedial works carried out
 construction type and details
 location, condition and status of any shafts or adits
 the proximity of nearby tunnels or underground excavations whose behaviour could
be influenced by the works
 foundations type and extent, including invert if present
 geology and cover of the surrounding material, including mineral workings
 groundwater regime, including effects of water, drainage and known watercourses
 compatibility of materials
 other works being carried out simultaneously
 aerodynamic effects, including cross-section requirements (kinematic envelope)
 climatic effects
 presence of services within the tunnel or buried utilities
 the condition of tunnel equipment, track and any other infrastructure.

When designing works reference should be made to the following documents and
standards applicable to tunnel repair measures, materials to be used and methods

 Specification for tunnelling (BTS and ICE, 2000)

 Tunnel lining design guide (BTS and ICE, 2004)
 appropriate British and European Standards.

5.1.4 Method statements and risk assessments

Tunnel repair often has to be carried out under strictly controlled access arrangements,
with restricted or confined space working areas, working at heights and in difficult
environmental conditions. Often it involves using potentially hazardous equipment and/or
materials. So it is extremely important that the preparations are made and the works
planned for properly in compliance with current health and safety requirements and, if
applicable, the tunnel owner’s or asset steward’s specific procedures.

Fundamental to this is the requirement for detailed method statements and risk
assessments to be completed covering all stages of the work, with appropriate contingency
and emergency measures included no matter how minor the works are. This should also
consider the tunnel environment during the works and the requirement for any special
precautions such as temporary ventilation to remove potentially noxious gases and
maintain respirable dust to harmless levels, and workplace noise level assessments.

More extensive repair and refurbishment works may often require partial demolition of
existing tunnel linings, so operatives may have to work below unsupported roofs. Where
possible this should be avoided by planning the work using remotely operated equipment,
such as hydraulic scaling and water jetting, and remotely controlled sprayed concrete and
bolting machines. If this is not possible temporary protective canopies may be appropriate
in some cases. Safe working conditions should be ensured at all stages by careful and
detailed planning and rigorous control on site (Swannell, 2003).

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 141

Where risk assessment has identified the potential for ground or water pollution, suitable
mitigation measures should be incorporated into the working methods. This is especially
important where potential pollutants and hazardous materials are being used, and where
groundwater pollution may affect aquifers and sensitive ecological sites.

Risk assessment should similarly consider all stages of the process, including tunnel
stability during demolition. Consideration should be given to the monitoring of surface
and/or other underground infrastructure, and other public-safety measures that may be
appropriate during the work.

5.1.5 Completion of works and beyond

On completion full details of the works should be retained in the tunnel’s asset files for
future use. This does not just extend to that information required in compliance with
current health and safety CDM regulations, but all works no matter how minor. Such
information would include as-built drawings and sketches, material performance records
and COSHH statements and details of monitoring installations or procedures.

Where appropriate, and particularly where the performance of a repair or alteration to

the structural elements of a tunnel is uncertain, for instance where a novel technique or
material has been used, or a well-tried one is used in new circumstances, it is important to
have a monitoring system in place to continuously or periodically measure and record
this. This may involve a periodic visual check carried out in the course of routine
inspections or the long-term installation of monitoring instrumentation. Procedures
should be set up to capture and review this information and make use of it for immediate
or future needs.


There are three main categories that work may be undertaken on a tunnel during its life:

1 Routine (preventative) maintenance.

2 Remedial repair (to maintain structural integrity).
3 Strengthening, alteration, enhancement or improvement (includes replacement of
complete lining elements).

These are described in Table 5.1, along with comments on the purpose and applicability of
a range of associated activities, with references to the appropriate parts of this guide for
further information.

Table 5.1 Repair techniques for tunnels

Technique Deals with Applicability* Reference*

Routine (preventative) maintenance Section 5.3

Assists inspection of asset,

Tunnel cleaning identification of defects, prevention of Ms, Mt, C, U Section 5.3.1
corrosion or degradation

Drainage cleaning/
Inadequate groundwater drainage Ms, Mt, C, U Section 5.3.2

Potential damage to brickwork and Ms, Mt, C, U

Vegetation removal Section 5.3.3
concrete (portal structures)

repointing Restoring of lining components Ms Section 5.3.4

Corrosion protection to iron and steel,

Application of protective
protective coatings to concrete and Mt, C, Ms Section 5.3.5
masonry structures

Stemming and water control Controlling water ingress Ms, Mt, C, U Section 6.2

Joint caulking/re-caulking Controlling water ingress Mt, C Section 6.3.1

Remedial repair (maintaining structural integrity) Section 5.4

Strengthening of lining components/ Section (Ms)

Patch repairs Ms, C
controlling water ingress Section (C)

Section (Ms)

Crack repairs (including Strengthening of lining components/
Ms, Mt, C Section 5.4.2 (Mt)
flange strapping) controlling water ingress
Section 5.4.3 (C)

Ring separation repair,

including pinning and Strengthening of lining components Ms Section

Welding structural steel Strengthening of lining or structural

Mt Section
work components

Controlling water ingress/structural

Grouting Ms, Mt, C, U Section 6.4

Replacement and strengthening Section 5.5

Replacement of existing lining

completely or relining to strengthen
Replacement or the existing lining (eg due to severe
Strengthening existing deterioration)/increasing structural Ms, Mt, C, U Section 5.5.1
Tunnel linings capacity/stabilising unlined tunnel/
tunnel enlargement (increase
structural gauge)

Underpinning Instability of foundations Ms Section 5.5.2

Invert repair: Stabilisation of structural or unlined

Ms, C (non-segmental) Section 5.5.3
strengthening/replacement invert

Rock stabilisation (rock

Instability of surrounding rock U Section 5.5.4
mass reinforcement)

Treatment of shafts Section 5.6

Maintenance and repair General deterioration Ms, Mt, C, U Section 5.6.2

Shaft filling Safely decommissioning Ms, Mt, C, U Section 5.6.3

Safely decommissioning/
Shaft grouting Ms, Mt, C, U Section 5.6.4
consolidating shaft filling

Safely decommissioning/sealing and

Shaft capping Ms, Mt, C, U Section 5.6.5
providing support


*Tunnel types: Ms=masonry linings (brick and/or stone), Mt=metal lining (cast iron/ steel), C=concrete lining, U=unlined

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 143

In the majority of cases, works other than routine (preventative) works may alter the
fabric and behaviour of the lining. In these circumstances full or partial engineering
assessments should be made of the existing tunnel lining using the principles described in
Section 4.9 to determine its current behaviour and the potential immediate and long-term
effects of carrying out the works.


There are several basic maintenance activities that should be carried out regularly on any
tunnel to maintain its performance, prolong its serviceable life and reduce its requirement
for more significant remedial works over time. Failure to carry out regular basic
maintenance is a short-sighted approach and a false economy. Basic cyclic maintenance
should be seen as a routine and beneficial for tunnel management, rather than an
unnecessary and avoidable drain on valuable resources. Tunnel owners should ensure that
sufficient budget and resources are available to carry out routine maintenance.

Access to many tunnels is restricted and owners and contractors alike should be
encouraged to find ways of improving efficiencies in their methods of working, and make
use of the limited time that may be available to do the work. With long tunnels under
restricted working conditions (for example, engineering hours on London Underground
tunnels, possession requirements on Network Rail tunnels) the means of access to the site
may play an important part in planning works: considerable time can be spent in
travelling to and from the worksite. Especially in railway tunnels, consideration should be
given to the use of track trolleys or engineering trains as mobile platforms, and the use of
hand-held, lightweight portable tools and access scaffolds.

Consideration should also be given by the asset manager to co-ordination of work

activities. It may be more cost-effective to carry out several routine maintenance work
packages and take advantage of a planned possession or tunnel closure required for more
significant works, rather than trying to complete routine works in restricted hours.

Routine maintenance typically comprises minor and minimally disruptive activities aimed
at preserving the tunnel’s structural fabric in good condition and keeping it in a state in
which it is performing as intended.

Although the specific regular maintenance activities required for individual tunnels will
vary depending on their nature, condition and environment, activities that should be
considered on a cyclic basis include:

 making minor local repairs to the fabric of any tunnel lining

 ensuring any drainage is working effectively
 ensuring tunnel services and equipment (eg ventilation) are working effectively
 cleaning of the tunnel and drainage systems
 monitoring the tunnel environment (air quality, lighting etc)
 cleaning of secondary lining, ie vitreous enamel panelling
 other activities aimed at preventing continued deterioration of the tunnel lining
(depending on tunnel lining type).

Regular maintenance activities are extra to, or may result from, routine visual inspections
or examinations aimed to ensure that the structure is performing adequately, that there
has been no significant change in condition (including monitoring known defects) and
that there are no external factors that may detrimentally affect the tunnel or its function.

The tunnel owner or asset steward should also be responsible for controlling unnecessary
or potentially harmful works by others who may use the tunnel to carry services. This
should also include internal users such as signalling, power and communication services
often found in transport tunnels. Fixing to, or cutting or alterating the tunnel lining
should be strictly controlled and only carried out after a careful assessment has been made
as to whether the works will have any effect on the tunnel structure or ancillary
equipment or services contained within.

Control measures should also be carried out on works by others above or adjacent to the
tunnel. For instance London Underground impose an exclusion zone around their
tunnels with no bored piling within a 3 m horizontal distance from a tunnel and 6 m

It is important to keep a detailed record of all maintenance and repair work carried out
on a tunnel, preferably including good before and after photographs and measurements
where appropriate. This information is a valuable part of the tunnel’s history and is useful
when investigating the cause and significance of new defects, and budgeting and
programming future maintenance requirements. Such information should be maintained
in the tunnel inventory files and databases.

The following sections discuss some recognised routine maintenance works. It will be the
asset manager’s responsibility to determine which specific works are required, how often
they are to be carried out and for allocating resources and budgets to complete the works.

5.3.1 Tunnel cleaning

Cleaning tunnel linings is considered vital by some tunnel owners to assist with the
inspection process as actual or potential defects may be masked by a layer of dirt or
hidden by accumulated rubbish. Frequent cleaning of a tunnel and the surrounding area
may also be beneficial for the health and well being of tunnel operator’s staff who may
spend a considerable amount of time in the structure. In circumstances when cleaning is
not carried out, the soiling may contribute to the deterioration of the tunnel lining so
cleaning may be desirable for its preservation, for example, where sulphur-bearing soot
deposits have been left by steam or diesel locomotives in masonry tunnels (see Figure 5.1),
or where bio-fouling of sewer tunnels leads to the production of potentially corrosive
products. However, like any other work carried out in a tunnel cleaning can be difficult,
expensive and disruptive, and the tunnel’s fabric can be damaged if done incorrectly, so
some asset owners do not clean their tunnels unless there is a specific need.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 145

Figure 5.1
Thick accumulation of soot on a rail
tunnel crown. Note that the area from
the haunches and below is clear of soot
– this is because of longstanding water
seepage in this area that has prevented
it from accumulating

As well as the accumulation of dust and grime on the surfaces of tunnel elements, rubbish
and litter may build-up and, because these may be flammable, present a fire hazard.
Transport tunnels and underground structures used for stations, and especially tunnels
with open inverts below a deck, are prone to the collection of rubbish, particularly where
the invert is used for air flow as part of the ventilation system. In tunnels where this has a
tendency to occur all such materials should be periodically removed.

The frequency of carrying out the cleaning may depend on the use of the tunnel, access
restrictions, ambience concerns (eg the passage of public through the tunnel) and
environmental issues. For example, it is generally not practicable to clean sewage tunnels
on a regular basis as access to the tunnel is very restricted due to use. In this case, access
may only be possible when any routine inspection programme is done and the sewer
isolated for this purpose. Apart from the more unpleasant aspects of inspecting a sewage
tunnel, the sewage may be causing deterioration of the tunnel lining, and cleaning should
be considered vital to complete a thorough inspection. Tunnel owners will need to decide
how often the tunnel is cleaned to satisfy these or other recognised factors.

A variety of techniques and proprietary cleaning products are available and are often
actively marketed by their producers/applicators. However, every structure and situation is
unique and there may not be a single technique or product that can be relied upon to
achieve the desired result while avoiding undesirable effects. The selection of the most
suitable technique will depend on a variety of factors including the type and existing
condition of the lining, the nature of the material or deposits needing to be removed and
the acceptability of the change in appearance (and possible irreversible damage) that
might result.

There are three main groups of cleaning methods (Mack and Grimmer, 2000):

1 Water methods soften the dirt or soiling material and rinse the deposits from surfaces.

2 Chemical cleaners react with dirt, soiling material or paint, allowing it to be rinsed off
surfaces with water.
3 Abrasive methods mechanically remove the dirt, soiling material or paint and may
also be followed with a water rinse.

General guidance for tunnel cleaning includes:

 clean where there is a good reason and a definite benefit
 use the gentlest method possible, commensurate with achieving the desired result
 cleaning should only be carried out by experienced contractors
 areas with particular historic or aesthetic value (eg listed portals) should be approached with
particular care and trials carried out.

Often it is possible to adequately clean brick and masonry lined tunnels by soaking using
low-pressure water spray followed by light brushing. Extreme care should be taken if
using high pressure water jetting as the technique has the potential to erode weaken
mortar and dislodge loose brick and masonry units. High-pressure jetting should only be
carried out after an assessment that the technique will not have any lasting effect on the
lining, and be carried out by skilled operatives who are fully aware of the potential harm it
could cause.

With masonry tunnel linings the application of wrong cleaning materials, chemicals, or
techniques can have disastrous results and leave the masonry surface in a weakened and
disfigured state. For instance limestone and sandstone masonry units can be damaged by
acidic treatments.

Transport tunnels are particularly prone to grime and dust from engine emissions and
brake dust. During the mid-1970s through to the late 1980s and early 1990s London
Underground carried out extensive tunnel cleaning of the brick lined tunnels forming
part of the Circle Line. Some of these tunnels date back to the 1860s to 1880s where steam
trains were used. Grime and soot deposits accumulated on the tunnel linings leaving a
heavy encrustation of up to 50 mm thick. The most successful method to clean the tunnel
was using high pressure water. Compressed air and grit blasting were attempted but
found to be less efficient or uneconomical.

Typically at risk during tunnel cleaning would be any operational services (signals, power,
communication systems etc) that may be carried within the tunnel together with fragile
secondary lining or finishes. Usually there will be insufficient time, or other practical
reasons why, removal or re-positioning of services before cleaning can be carried out, or
time to install elaborate protective measures. Care is also required when using such
techniques along the joints of segment lined tunnels so as not to disturb any caulking
compounds or material that may be present to prevent water ingress through the joint.

Special precautions may also be required to avoid disturbing hazardous materials that may
be present such as asbestos based sheeting used in secondary linings, segmental lined
caulking compounds and fire protection coatings. The material being cleaned down may
also be considered hazardous and require special precautions for its collection and

Caution is advised in the use of sand blasting/cleaning techniques, which can only be used
on more resilient lining surfaces such as cast iron and only with care on concrete or
masonry linings. Such techniques are considered more intrusive, requiring greater
protection measures to be done on ancillary structures and tunnel equipment, and time
allowed for cleanup operations at the end of each shift should the tunnel need to be
brought back into service.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 147

Further guidance on cleaning different materials in tunnel linings can be found in BS
6270-3 (BSI, 1991a) for metals, and in BS 8221-1 (BSI, 2000a) for brick, natural stone and

In rail tunnels the track may be supported on ballast, which should be maintained in good
order to avoid contamination from the cleaning operations.

During any tunnel cleaning operation that involves water, detergents or chemicals of any
kind, careful consideration should be given to the potential for these materials (in the
normal course of the works, or accidentally) to enter and contaminate drainage systems,
groundwater and watercourses, and the possible environmental impact they might have.
This may merit the consideration of alternative materials or working methods to mitigate
risk, or to minimise the consequences of accidental discharges. Equipment in the form of
sumps and settling tanks may need to be used or built into a tunnel drainage system to
intersect any potentially contaminated fluids resulting from the cleaning operation for
separate treatment. Even plain water used in a cleaning operation may become
contaminated with either grit or grease, which would need to be filtered out before
discharge or disposal. Particulate contaminates would also cause a problem for any
pumped system used to remove water or fluids in a cleaning process as it is likely to cause
increased wear and tear on the pumps, or blockages.

The health and safety of the tunnel cleaning operatives would also need to be taken into
consideration through adequate risk assessment of the materials being used for, and
resulting from, the cleaning process and the use of suitable and adequate personal
protective equipment (PPE) and work methods.

The inspection of unlined rock tunnels benefits from having a clean floor policy where all
accumulated rock debris is recorded and cleared after every inspection as a means of
monitoring spalling rock. This may provide an early warning of a deep seated instability.

5.3.2 Drainage maintenance

Effective management of water is fundamental to the long-term serviceability of tunnels.

Where provision has been made for drainage or management of water, whether as part of
the original structure or added later, it is important that it is maintained, for example, by
ensuring all drains and drainage paths are kept clear and functional. Management of
water ingress through existing water management systems is usually more economical
than trying to stop it completely.

Often during the construction of tunnels, local drainage measures are installed to adapt to
ground conditions found during excavation. Drainage measures may include weep holes
at the base of side walls and collection pipes. It is important that such installations are
maintained and, if necessary, improved upon to manage the ingress of water most
effectively. The removal of such systems by grouting up weep holes etc should not be
considered as it is very likely that the equilibrium of the water flow around the tunnel will
be upset resulting in water ingress through previously dry sections of the tunnel. More
importantly the loading on the tunnel lining may increase due to increased hydrostatic
water pressure and this could lead to overstress and possible damage or even collapse.

Drainage channels in the tunnel invert should be kept clear of debris and fines to maintain
the flow of ingress water to pumped sumps etc.

Figure 5.2 Guttering and downpipe system that has been installed to channel
water ingress from a tunnel wall into the invert drain, but has not
been maintained so that it is no longer effective

Most old brick lined or masonry tunnels do not incorporate any kind of waterproofing
system. However, given the nature of the materials used the structure is usually permeable
and water can drain through the lining. The use of lime-based mortars make the lining
breathable – allowing it to dry out where there is adequate ventilation, rather than
remaining in a permanently saturated state. So care is needed in the selection of
appropriate mortars for repointing of brick and masonry to maintain the drainage
characteristics of the tunnel lining and avoid accelerated deterioration.

5.3.3 Management and removal of vegetation

The effects of vegetation are more likely to be seen in the areas around tunnel entrances,
shafts and locations where tunnels have very shallow cover. Masonry structures are more
likely to be prone to the adverse effects of vegetation than other forms of construction but
segmental tunnel linings (eg concrete and cast iron tunnel linings) may still be affected.
Tree roots penetrating masonry tunnel linings several tens of metres below ground level,
causing damage and allowing the free ingress of water has been recorded.

Plants, tree roots and accumulated moss have the potential to disrupt and displace the
fabric of a tunnel, block drainage channels and retard the drying out of wet masonry.
Ideally the vegetation should be completely removed from the structure, and monitored
in the adjacent area. The vegetation should be cleared away from all parts of the structure
and the roots raked out. It may also be beneficial to treat any remaining roots with a
suitable herbicide, although the potential environmental impact of the use of such
materials should be considered. Vigorously growing plants and shrubs immediately
adjacent to the structure should also be cleared away because their roots may penetrate
the tunnel lining, which affects structural components of a tunnel where it surfaces, eg
portal structures at tunnel entrances. Vegetation may also obscure tunnel structures and
hinder inspection.

The best time to clear or control vegetation is during the spring. Care should be exercised
where flora on structures may include rare and protected species or provide homes for
protected fauna.

5.3.4 Repointing of masonry-lined tunnels

Loss of pointing and jointing mortar loosens masonry units, brick or stone, which may
present a hazard to traffic and members of the public using the area below. Loss of mortar

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 149

from joints also reduces the ability of the masonry to transmit and evenly distribute forces,
focusing stress in localised areas and potentially leading to cracking and distortion.
Repointing may be required to prevent progressive deterioration of the masonry fabric
and should be dealt with as part of a routine maintenance programme.

Repointing is most frequently required close to tunnel portals and open shafts in exposed
locations and/or subject to severe weather conditions, particularly wetness and freezing.
Tunnel ventilation is an important factor, and tunnels on a coincident alignment to the
prevailing wind may also be more affected by the elements than a tunnel running at an
oblique angle. Frost damage can affect the first 300 m to 400 m length of tunnel from a
portal (Haack, 1991).

Waiting until the majority of the pointing in a lining has completely deteriorated or fallen
out before carrying out repointing is not advisable, because other damage may have
already occurred to the structure. Ideally repointing should be carried out in dry
conditions, particularly where lime-based mortars are used, and at a time where there is a
low risk of exposure to freezing temperatures.

Care should be exercised where gaps in mortar may contain protected species such as

For some tunnel owners a loss of mortar to a depth of over 20 mm may trigger repointing
(Railtrack, 1996). In cases where mortar shows signs of deterioration and the decision is
made to repoint, the joint should be cleaned out to a depth at least twice the width of the
joint, or to a maximum depth of 18 mm to 25 mm from the finished face.

When cleaning out for repointing care should be taken to avoid damaging the
surrounding masonry units. Hand tools (quirks and long necked jointing chisels with
parallel faces) are normally adequate where the old mortar is weak but for treating larger
areas in a limited time, high pressure water jetting may be used if carried out with care.
Where joints are thin and dense mortar has been used it can sometimes be difficult to
remove, but the use of mechanical tools should only be considered when necessitated by
the scale of the work. Where such methods are necessary appropriate equipment should
be used by skilled operatives to prevent damage to the masonry units. Cutting out using
angle grinders is not advised as the risk of damage to the masonry units is too great.

Where deterioration of jointing mortar is extensive resulting in voids and friable mortar
deep in the joint and considered beyond repair by repointing techniques, pressurised
compressed air or mechanical repointing may be necessary. The loose and very soft
mortar should be removed back to more solid material to a depth of up to 100 mm for
brickwork and potentially more for stonework depending on the size of the masonry
units. This may cause loosening of the facing course of brickwork and masonry units, and
care should be taken to avoid their damage or displacement. A suitable mortar can then be
injected to fill the joints under pressure using compressed air or mechanical pointing
equipment to pressurise the mortar and force it through a hose to a gun nozzle. The
operator should then build up mortar in layers from the back of the joint to the front in
one continuous operation to avoid cold joints.

Mechanical pointing equipment and techniques (in which grout is injected into the joint)
have been successfully used for deep-pointing of masonry rail and canal tunnels for almost
50 years (Sowden, 1990). The resulting finish can be less satisfactory, but this is typically
not a problem in most tunnels and if necessary the surface can be re-finished once the
mortar starts to set. This method does not seem to be in use at the present time, largely
because the equipment is unavailable, but its potential benefits may merit its revival for
use in tunnel maintenance.

5.3.5 Application of protective coatings Metal tunnel linings

The traditional method of corrosion protection of iron and steel to prolong the lifespan of
the material is the application of a protective coating. The effects of corrosion can be very
damaging not only to the metal component through partial to complete loss of section, but
also to surrounding or connecting members.

In practice structural iron and steel should have been protected as stipulated by the
various standards, codes of practice and regulations at the time of construction, though
this protection may not be effective for the full lifespan of the element. So cleaning and re-
treatment of the metal is often required, although clearly this can only be applied to
exposed and accessible surfaces.

Cast iron by virtue of its method of manufacture has good resistance to corrosion as, when
cast, silica from the moulding sand fuses and coats the surface of the casting to form a
barrier against oxygen. So it may require little or no treatment in the long-term. However,
should environmental conditions change or the surface be scratched or cracked corrosion
can set in. Cast iron can be weakened by graphitisation, which requires little oxygen as it
can be brought on by the presence of brackish or acidic groundwater. Wrought iron has
reasonable resistance to corrosion and fares better than carbon steel.

The requirement for replacement of protective coatings to iron and steel components in
situ should be identified through regular inspection. However, difficulties exist where
structural iron and steel work is covered or embedded. Intrusive inspection techniques
may be necessary to examine the condition of the metalwork and assess the need for
protection. In some cases this may not be practicable and the effects of corrosion may not
present themselves until the damage is done and remedial works required.

When applying a protective coating to metals, either to a new component or to existing

sections in situ, surface preparation is critical. Cleaning can be carried out using grit or
shot blasting or high pressure water techniques, with consideration given to protecting the
fabric of the tunnel and any services, and the effects on health and safety of operatives,
particularly when working in situ. Depending on the condition of the metal finish, hand
cleaning using light tools such as wire brushes and scrapers may be all that is required to
ensure an adequate surface for the application of a protective coating. The cleaning
should remove any rust, salts, loose or flaking paint and other contaminants (dirt, grease
and oil) that may be present. Removal of oil-based contaminants may need detergents.

Protective coatings in the form of primers, barriers coats and bituminous coatings, should
comply with the requirements of BS EN ISO 12944 (BSI, 1998a). When selecting an
appropriate coating compatibility with other finishes or materials used, or to be bonded to
the metal, should be considered.

Coatings can also be used to increase the fire rating of metallic elements, and there are
several technologies available. Passive fire protection materials insulate metallic elements
from the effects of the high temperatures that may be generated in fire and can be divided
into two types:

1 Non-reactive: the most common types are boards and sprays.

2 Reactive: intumescent coatings are the best example.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 151

A discussion of these materials, their characteristics and use is beyond the scope of this
document. More information on the effect of fire on structural materials is included in
Section 2.6.3. Concrete, brick and masonry linings

Brickwork and masonry can be protected from weathering and other environmental
effects by the application of a cementitious-based render. Natural cement, a hydraulic lime
cement formed from burnt limestone and clay, has many benefits when used as a
protective coating including fast setting, high early strength, good resistance to the
passage of water, the detrimental effects of salts, chemicals, acid and alkalis and high
corrosion protection properties. Another method of protecting concrete, brick and
masonry is through the application of a proprietary water repellent coating. These are
typically silicone based products and have a high resistance to alkalis, good adhesion
properties for paints and are water-based and environmentally friendly.

The use of coatings on these lining materials has many potential pitfalls. If used in the
wrong situation or incorrectly selected, specified and applied, coatings can fail rapidly or
may cause damage to the tunnel’s structural fabric – particularly where old masonry (brick
and stone) is concerned. An important consideration when waterproof coatings are used is
that the substrate should be dry and not entrap water, which could exacerbate
deterioration. Also coatings often require a sound and regular surface, and on surfaces
that are dirty, damaged or weakened (as is the case in many tunnels that have been in
service for long periods of time) this may cause problems. It is recommended that advice is
sought from an independent and suitably experienced specialist before using such
treatments, rather than relying on manufacturer’s claims.

Care should be exercised when applying waterproof or protective coatings not to block
any permanent drainage paths, drains or water outlets that are installed to prevent the
build-up of water behind the lining (see Section 5.3.2).

Damage to concrete, brick and masonry can also be caused by corrosion of fully or
partially embedded iron or steel beams or structural work used in the construction of the
tunnel lining. Typically the corrosion product occupies between five and 10 times the
original volume of un-corroded material, which can severely damaged adjacent brick,
masonry or concrete, cracking and outward displacement of the surrounding material.


The following sections discuss a range of techniques that are either directed to repairing
existing, or to locally replacing with new, tunnel linings. Through external effects they
have either failed or are in such an advanced state of deterioration that their failure would
have catastrophic (ie collapse) or operational effect on the tunnel. Deterioration in
components of old tunnels may also be because they have outlived what would be
considered their original design lives (if there was such a consideration during the original
planning and design of the tunnel) with deterioration occurring through wear and tear.

Repair usually implies reinstatement of lost or damaged, structural or weakened material

with the same material. However strengthening also implies using extra sound material,
which may be the same as the original material or another material, to share in the
support of the load directly. Strengthening of tunnel linings is dealt with in more detail in
Section 5.4.5.

Tunnel repair works are usually beyond the preventative maintenance works discussed in
Section 5.3, which are aimed at preserving the tunnel’s structural fabric in good condition
and are considered as minor and minimally disruptive activities. Tunnel lining repairs and
more extensive strengthening or tunnel lining replacement works are aimed at providing
a long-term solution. This could involve more extensive works, possibly requiring greater
possession or closure of the tunnel to be done, and may need external specialist designers
and contractors to be employed.

The need for a good understanding of the cause, severity and extent of deterioration
before devising and carrying out schemes for tunnel repairs cannot be overemphasised.
This allows the extent of the work to be determined in advance and minimises the risk of
encountering unexpected situations or requirements. When carrying out repairs on any
type of structure being unprepared is undesirable and potentially costly, but in tunnel
repairs this is especially so. Unanticipated problems (for example, logistical problems with
resources and materials, difficulties with techniques used, slow rates of progress,
unforeseen constraints and underestimated scope or work) can have considerable negative
impact on the success of tunnel repair contracts , and could lead to operational disruption,
spiralling costs and contractual disputes.

5.4.1 Masonry linings

The repair of masonry may be categorised by the following:

 patch repair
 crack repair
 ring separation repair.

Table 5.2 describes and gives advice on using the various types of repair to address
common defects in masonry linings.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 153

Table 5.2 Summary of typical defects of brick and masonry tunnel linings and possible remedial
solutions (adapted from Railtrack 2002)

Defect Description Possible repair type Solution

 initially nothing other than monitoring

 groundwater or soluble salts from
certain bricks may result in sulfate  ensure adequate drainage and prevent
attack causing progressive cracking use of de-icing salts (on adjacent roads or
and crumbling of the mortar joints footpaths), prevent contact from airborne
Soft/spalling of sulfates through use of protective coatings
 condition arises when bricks and
brickwork or Patch repair  as condition deteriorates, replacement of
masonry units are subject to constant
masonry defective brickwork, masonry or mortar
water saturation
may be required, using temporary
 freeze-thaw action may cause frost formwork or centring and selection of
damage with units flaking and appropriate mortar
becoming friable.
 in severe cases full structural repair or re-

 deep repointing may be possible after

temporarily pinning the masonry units in
place, though replacement of masonry
 this will occur with continuous may be the most appropriate course of
washout or perished joints action
Loose brickwork or  a breakdown of the mortar between Deep repointing or  in vertical walls the area to be replaced
masonry units bricks or masonry units can occur patch repair should be controlled. It is recommended
and local areas may become that an area no more than 1 m² is
unstable to the extent that they removed and replaced at any one time.
become loose or even fall out. Care and attention should be given to
supporting the surrounding brickwork or
masonry with the aid of temporary form
work or centring.

 trial hole/NDT/distress testing to

determine either ring separation or
 brickwork sounds hollow when  clean off spalling brickwork until fresh
tapped with a hammer (sound brickwork found and test for drumminess
Drummy/hollow brickwork should ring bright) Patch repair and ring – if hollow assume ring separation
brickwork  dull or flat tone often indicates separation  if ring separation assumed investigate by
potential hollow brickwork due to ring intrusive or non intrusive methods – may
separation or spalling. require an area of brickwork to be
removed to determine very narrow
 treat for ring separation.

 may be the result of poor

construction – lack of cross bonding  trial hole/NDT/distress testing to
or joint mortar between rings investigate and confirm the defect
 a symptom of washout or perished  depends upon severity of the ring
joints separation
Ring separation  may be the result of flexure of the Ring separation  pinning and grouting may suffice for
lining due to live loading/vibration/ sidewall, lower haunch repair and
fluctuating ground and groundwater localised crown repair
stresses  in severe cases re-lining may be
 multiple separations may occur warranted.
between successive courses

 trial holes/NDT to investigate and confirm

 may be found in structural linings
extent of the defect
where distortion of the surface profile
results from eccentric loading or  monitoring irregularities in tunnel profile
voiding to ascertain extent and rate of movement
and help prioritise remedial works or
 could be an indication of lining failure
further actions
or ring separation (a great concern)
 water pressure may be relieved by
 bulging or tunnel distortion may have
installing weep points in the structure or
an effect on the structural gauge of
Irregular Patch repair and ring carry out maintenance of the drainage
the tunnel
profile/bulging separation system (cleaning out blocked weep holes
 bulging may be encountered at etc)
meeting point of construction joint
 voiding may be prevented by pinning and
 may indicate presence of water – see grouting the affected area
wet patches
 in extreme cases, removing and replacing
 bulging or irregular profile may be the the affected brickwork, with the aid of
result of intrusive vegetation or temporary support, may be necessary
external forces acting such as heave
 in very severe cases full structural repair
or lateral loading.
or re-lining may be required.

Table 5.2 Summary of typical defects of brick and masonry tunnel linings and possible remedial
solutions (adapted from Railtrack 2002) (contd)

 depends upon the severity

 monitoring cracks to ascertain extent and
rate of movement and help prioritise
 cracking of any tunnel lining may result due remedial works or further actions
to any of the above defects  repointing to replace lost or damaged mortar
 dormant or residual cracking may be the Crack repair for inert cracks, but for live cracks flexible/
cracks (general)
result of past movement or defects that elastic filler (mastic etc) might be better.
have since been treated. Removal and re-casing the affected brickwork
with the aid of temporary support in extreme
 cross stitching cracks with metal dowels.

 investigation required to determine cause of

 occur laterally along the length of the tunnel  monitoring cracks to ascertain extent and
 created by rotational movement of the lining rate of movement and help prioritise
 associated with ring separation in masonry remedial works or further actions
 cracking may be attributed to differential or  repointing inert cracks using mortar or, for
Transverse cracks eccentric loading of the lining Crack repair live cracks, flexible/elastic filler (mastic etc)
 increased external loading (or unloading) ie  cross stitching cracks with metal dowels
adjacent tunnelling works, foundation piling  enforcing ground improvement remedial
 settlement of the tunnel invert or ground measures
bearing walls.  in extreme cases strengthening of lining may
be required through re-lining, construction of
an extra inner ring or lining, or underpinning.

 investigation required to determining the

cause of failure
 caused by shear action or dynamic loading
 monitoring cracks to ascertain extent and
 may occur at junction between two rate of movement and help prioritise
separately stiffened sections (main tunnel remedial works or further actions
and headwalls or portal structures etc)
through differential thermal action  repointing inert cracks using mortar or, for
Longitudinal cracks (expansion/contraction) etc Crack repair live cracks, flexible/elastic filler (mastic etc)
 increased external loading (or unloading). ie  combination of cross stitching accompanied
adjacent tunnelling works, foundation piling with localised brick replacement or pinning
and grouting
 settlement of the tunnel invert or ground
bearing walls.  in extreme cases strengthening of lining may
be required through re-lining, construction of
an extra inner ring or lining, or underpinning.

 tunnel lining struck by road vehicle/train etc  depends upon severity – localised repair to
Impact damage Patch repair replacement of individual components
 scouring/gouging of brickwork or masonry. through to full structural repair or re-lining.

 investigation required to determining the

cause and extent.
 in flat exposed structural elements, wet  treat cause were possible
patches may be the result of poorly  repair/unblock/maintain drains and gutter
protected brickwork or masonry systems
 this may be the result of a broken or  for a broken water main, instigate repairs to
blocked down pipes or gutter systems used the main (report to service provider).
to deflect/manage water inflow However, if suspect broken water main the
Water control
Wet patches  in extreme situations, including active water tunnel should be monitored closely for signs
ingress, may be an indication to the of distress
presence of a nearby burst water main  install water management system(s)
 wet patches may also occur as the result of  in some cases relieve water pressure by
natural fissures in the host rock allowing installation of weep holes
groundwater to permeate the tunnel lining
(refer to irregular profiling or bulging).  grout fissures/soil to prevent water ingress
 pinning and grouting masonry
 install waterproof lining.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 155 Patch repairs

Patch repairs are mainly required where there is excessive localised deterioration of the
mortar and/or the masonry or brick units and it is necessary to reinstate the structural
integrity of the tunnel lining.

A patch repair in brick or masonry tunnel lining is the replacement of several adjacent
bricks or masonry units in one area. For example, this may involve the partial removal of
one or more courses of a brick or masonry lining in a localised area that may be showing
signs of deterioration and replacing with similar materials or alternative materials to
maintain structural continuity of the lining.

When carrying out a repair on old masonry or brickwork it is preferable to replace like for
like, ie replacement with what was taken out using the old bricks and new mortar,
provided the brick units themselves do not show any signs of deterioration, otherwise
replacement using new or recycled bricks. However, alternative methods of repair may be
deemed more applicable in terms of:

 availability (of materials, local knowledge, skills base etc)

 cost (repairs using masonry are considered to be expensive compared with alternative
methods such as shotcreting)
 time (masonry repairs may not be the fastest method of repair)
 suitability (of design).

Figure 5.3 Several visibly distinct phases of patch repair to an old rail tunnel lining

Selecting sympathetic materials

Using materials that result in an overly-strong or overly-stiff repair (relative to the
surrounding original fabric) could result in a hard spot in the tunnel lining. This may
affect local stress redistribution, potentially causing premature failure or distress of the
surrounding area.

 see Tables 2.8 and 2.9 for typical properties of bricks used in existing railway
structures. Durability of the brick and masonry components is an important
consideration, including resistance to frost and soluble salt content. High strength

bricks generally exhibit low levels of water absorption and so often (though not
always) have better frost resistance. Water absorption characteristics also determine
how a brick will react to environmental changes, such as temperature and humidity.
New dry bricks will have the potential to absorb a great deal of moisture, and may
expand sufficiently to cause further compressive stress to that generated by external
loading. When carrying out a repair the bricks should be stored in the local
environment for a reasonable period to stabilise
 bricks produced today are of a standard size, typically 215 mm × 102.5 mm × 65 mm.
However, in the past a much wider variation in size of bricks was manufactured,
particularly in their height. When renewing brickwork consideration should be given
to matching the existing brick size as the bed joints may have to be deeper or thinner
than those in the original brickwork giving the impression of poor workmanship
 manufactured and natural stone masonry units, should comply with BS 5628 (BSI,
2005b), and now BS 5628 and EN 771-6 (BSI, 2001d). Where possible they should be
selected on the basis of proven durability and resistance to weathering in a similar
climate and exposure condition to the masonry to be repaired
 it is generally good practice to ensure that the new jointing mortar is weaker than the
masonry unit being used in the repair. New mortar should also have adequate
permeability to allow the brickwork to breathe and for moisture to evaporate through
the joints rather than through the masonry units. For old masonry tunnel linings
consideration may need to be given to the use of lime-based mortars, particularly
hydraulic limes.

For further information on the selection of materials for masonry repair see McKibbins et
al (2006) and the Concrete Society (2005).

Carrying out repairs

Where individual bricks are replaced, temporary formwork is not necessary as timber
wedging is generally sufficient to maintain the individual units in position. Similarly, it is
generally recommended that relining vertical faces of a tunnel lining can be carried out
without the need for temporary works provided the extent of repair is limited to 1 m².
Where brickwork is to be renewed over the crown of the tunnel, some form of temporary
formwork or centring may be required to support the brickwork and is only removed
once the mortar has attained sufficient strength. Formwork should be suitably designed
taking into account expected loading conditions and clearance requirements if the tunnel
is to be kept operational. Certain authorities or asset owners may require a temporary
works design certificate to be issued for the formwork.

a b

Figure 5.4 Typical patch repair to two courses of brickwork (a) with pinning detail (b). Note the use of a
centering rib to support the repair

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 157

Figure 5.5 Carrying out patch repairs using temporary supports

Once the defective brickwork is broken out, the exposed surface of the underlying ring or
leaf of brickwork should be inspected to determine if further repairs are required. Before
carrying out further, deeper, remedial works it is important that full consideration is given
to the stability of the tunnel lining and that appropriate experienced and qualified staff
are involved in the decision making.

Where possible, when carrying out a repair, the bond of the original brickwork should be
maintained and the new brickwork keyed into the surrounding brickwork. No extra
stiffening of the lining should be introduced through further bonding between successive
rings forming the arch of the lining. If this is done the structural behaviour of the lining
may be altered. If the brickwork is to be tied between successive rings on a repair of more
than one brick ring thickness, the use of stainless steel brick fishtail ties is one suitable
method of tying back new brickwork, installed on a diamond pattern with a nominal pitch
of 400 mm × 400 mm.

Repairs to stonework require similar considerations to those discussed for brickwork, but
employ slightly different techniques and labour skills, so are likely to require the use of a
specialist contractor with suitably skilled and experienced masons. Local repairs, which
involve the replacement of a small number of masonry units or damaged parts of units
only, can be achieved either by replacement with new stone or by piecing in to repair the
damaged areas only. Stonework repairs are pinned back to the original fabric of the lining
in a similar way to brickwork repairs. The use of plastic repairs where mortar is used to
replace original stonework, or the use of bricks to replace stone should be avoided
wherever possible, because the results can be unsightly and repairs may fail prematurely
or damage adjacent masonry fabric.

For extensive works such as re-casing the tunnel crown, detailed programming of the
works will be necessary. This will allow the number of possessions or closures to be
determined to install any temporary works and complete the works. During the planning
stage consideration should be given to the overall area of brickwork to be replaced and
any limitation placed on the area of brickwork or masonry removed and replaced at any
one time.

It is important that when temporary works are to be installed within any operational
tunnel that sufficient clearance for traffic is always maintained. Permission should be
obtained from the appropriate authority before installation works start, and consideration
given to the design of the temporary works for any restrictions that may be in place.

Alternative repair techniques
Alternative repair methods for brick and stone masonry may include such materials as
sprayed concrete (discussed in Section 5.4.8) or cast in situ concrete. Crack repairs

Cracking of masonry tunnel linings should not be repaired until the cause has been
adequately established and, where necessary, dealt with. Crack repairs are only worthwhile
if the cause of the cracking is unlikely to recur, or if provision is made for future
movements. Superficial repairs to cracking involve sealing the surface of the crack to
prevent the ingress of moisture and deterioration of the adjacent materials, but do not
restore structural connection between the masonry either side of the crack.

Longstanding inactive cracks can be repaired using mortar materials that should not be
too hard or brittle, or else small movements are likely to result in a recurrence of the
cracking and failure of the repair. Cracks that are expected to experience further
movement, for example, through cyclic moisture or thermal variations, can be treated as
joints and sealed with a flexible material that will accommodate the anticipated range of
movement. If a crack is acting as a drainage path then a permanent pipe or other means
of drainage may be incorporated into the repair. The pipe may be connected to a water
collection system if dripping or flowing water cannot be tolerated (see Section 6.2).

Where cracks have confined themselves to the mortar joint lines they can be repaired
using normal pointing methods as in Section 5.3.4. However, cracks that pass through the
masonry units themselves are more difficult to treat, and patch repairs may be necessary.
Alternately the crack may be stitched using a stitching bars installed diagonally through
the crack at suitable intervals or, in the case of brick linings, along the brick courses over
the length of the crack. Several proprietary systems are available on the market that could
be used. The advantage of stitching is that it offers an element of reinforcement to the
cracked masonry that repointing does not achieve.

Figure 5.6 Installation of stitching bars along a crack

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 159

Box 5.1 Assessing the nature of a crack

Where cracking and distortion of a masonry lined tunnel has occurred, it is very important that this is not
simply covered up by repointing, because this can hide serious structural problems. An assessment should
be carried out of the likely cause of the problem and the remedial measures done to rectify it.
Where cracking is known to be longstanding and non-progressive, repointing may be considered but
detailed records of such defects should be made before and after remediation, including drawings with
measurements and photographs.
Cracks that experience movement, for example, through cyclical moisture or thermal variations, can be
treated as joints and sealed with a flexible material to accommodate the movement. However, such
cracks should be carefully assessed to ensure that they do not represent deep seated failure
mechanisms of the tunnel lining, localised or otherwise, which may require more extensive forms of
treatment such as localised re-lining or strengthening works. Ring separation repair

The primary causes of ring separation in multi-ring brick arches are:

 erosion and washout of mortar between courses

 overstressing the lining from increased imposed loads
 flexure of the tunnel lining, possibly caused by eccentric loading or uneven stresses
distribution within the lining brought about by voiding around the tunnel and
fluctuating ground and groundwater stresses
 poor original construction
 vibration and live loading
 settlement of the lining walls (foundation failure)
 damage by impact
 delamination of previous repairs.

Failure of the inner course or courses of brickwork or masonry as a result of ring

separation can range from loosening or fall out of localised areas or individual bricks or
masonry units, to complete collapse of one or more courses over larger areas. However, as
with all defects in tunnel linings, the root cause of failure should be established, including
carrying out a thorough investigation, before deciding the most suitable repair method.

Ring separation is often associated with water ingress through the lining, and as
mentioned, washout of the mortar between courses is a primary cause of ring separation
or voiding occurring within the brickwork linings.

Brickwork and masonry repairs of ring separation comprise interstitial grouting of the
void or separated courses with a suitable grout or, in extreme cases, complete re-casing of
the lining in the failed areas. When re-casing, or re-building successive rings of brickwork
or masonry, consideration should be given to the factors discussed for patch repairs
regarding formwork design.

If grouting is to be carried out it is advisable that this is done in conjunction with pinning
of the brickwork or masonry. The advantages of pinning include:

 tying two or more courses together to jointly resist grouting pressures

 forming a composite action between pinned rings, with the pins acting as shear
 pinning individual loose brick and masonry units.

Drilling holes and installation of pins should be carried out through the centre of the unit
on a regular staggered pattern, as close as 400 mm centres, but subject to the extent of
ring separation and grouting that needs to be carried out.

Figure 5.7 Brick lining pinning for grouting ring separation

Several proprietary products are available. Some are installed in holes of a larger size than
the pin and the annulus between the pin and the hole filled with either a cement, epoxy
or polyester grout. In others, the pins may be driven into smaller diameter holes than
themselves. The advantages of driven pins are speed of installation, no requirement for
annulus cement or grout to hold the pin in, and the added interlocking strength to the
brickwork to resist grouting pressures. Propriety systems also combine driven pins and
interstitial grouting techniques in one operation. The driven pin provides mechanical
reinforcement to the ring where separation is occurring, while the grouting, using
chemical grouting methods (see Section is used to control water ingress through
the brickwork. The spiral design of the driven pin allows access for the resin grout into the
interstices of the structure.

Grouting of voided or delaminated brick or masonry linings is usually carried out using
cementitious grouts, often with additives or fillers such as pulverised fuel ash (PFA), or
resin grouts. However, the selection of the grout will depend on whether the grout is to
provide structural strength and bond to the brickwork or for prevention of water ingress,
or a combination of both.

Provision should be made in grouting works for cleaning the grouting equipment and
pipes during or at the end of working shifts – bins or skips may be necessary to collect
residual grout fines and contaminated water.

5.4.2 Metal tunnel linings

Deterioration or defects in metal tunnel linings or metal components forming a lining will
be limited to corrosion or distortion (that may result in cracking or fracture) or a
combination of both.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 161

The following sections discuss a range of options for treating iron or steel linings or
components forming a lining. The techniques are aimed at either repairing or replacing
deteriorating or defective sections in situ. Work to strengthen iron or steel tunnel lining
components may use the same techniques as those for repair, but will be designed to
improve the structural capacity of the section by installing extra components.
Strengthening works to iron and steel tunnel lining components are not discussed further
but factors affecting repair should be considered when carrying out such works. Cast iron lining repairs

Flange strapping and pan-plates

Figure 5.8 Typical example of a damaged circle joint flange of a bolted cast iron lining

For defects such as cracked flanges, flange straps can be installed to strengthen areas using
the existing bolt holes either side of the defect (see Figures 5.9 and 5.10).

Figure 5.9
Typical example of flange strapping
in cast iron lined tunnels

For a corroded or cracked segment pan a similar repair can be used by bolting a plate
onto the original, sound part of the pan (see Figure 5.10). If such a repair is to be
considered, a watertight connection should be sought if there is a likelihood that
groundwater seepage will occur. The components used for the plate repair should also be
treated to prevent corrosion.

Ordinary bolts (Grade 4.6, 8.8 etc) are recommended to secure straps or plates to cast
iron. The use of high strength friction grip bolts is not recommended as these can create
tension in jointed members. They are, however, acceptable for jointing plates to steel
sections. New bolt holes in cast iron should not be drilled using percussive drilling
equipment due to the risk of shattering the brittle metal.

Figure 5.10 Typical example of plate repair to cast iron tunnel segment pan

If properly designed, it is likely that such repairs will result in a structural component of
comparable stiffness to that of the original, undamaged lining. At the very least they will
go some way to strengthen the lining if it is required, or in the case of the pan plate,
prevent water ingress. However, these repairs require an element of pre-design and pre-
construction to form the individual components. The requirement to prefabricate
elements may make a repair more costly and possibly require multiple visits to first survey
and then install the repair.

If the damage to the lining is due to over stressing from external loading regimes, ie
change in ground stress or increased loading due to nearby piled foundations, it is
unlikely that such repairs would be sufficient to strengthen the linings as a permanent
solution. When this is the case, it may be necessary to install structural members to
strengthen the existing lining, provided the works do not interfere with clearance lines for
the operation of the tunnel. In the extreme case, it may be necessary to locally re-build the
tunnel lining with a lining of greater structural capacity.

Caution is needed in the use of different metals in repair of metallic linings due to
bimetallic (galvanic) corrosion. Bimetallic corrosion occurs where different metals of
significantly different nobility come in contact and form a galvanic couple, particularly in
wet or damp environments. The result is usually a localised area of corrosion, such as
around fixings using nuts and bolts, rivets or welds. To prevent bimetallic corrosion of
adjoining metals the follow precautions may be used:

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 163

 isolating the metals electrically using insulators
 isolating the metals from the environment using coating etc
 choosing metals that are close together in terms of nobility
 application of cathodic protection.

See Baeckmann (1997), BSI (1991b) and BSI (2001a) for further guidance on cathodic

Metal stitching
The repair of cast iron tunnel and shaft linings by welding is difficult, if not impossible to
carry out in situ, especially in an underground environment where vital cables and track
side services may create an operational restriction. The safety requirement for the use of
hot work may also be too onerous, with the potential for fire or the generation of harmful
fumes in confined spaces. To effectively weld cast iron the metal needs to be preheated to
very high temperatures, typically about 480°C for brazing and 700°C for welding. Welding
cast iron, if not carried out under strict control, can cause further in situ stresses within the
lining resulting in distortion, hardening and extra cracking.

Methods employed in the past to repair cast iron have included bolting on plates and
straps over the damaged or cracked section of the lining, as discussed in the previous
section. An alternative in situ repair technique for cast iron is the proprietary lock and
stitch metal stitching system that originated in the USA and has a been used for repairing
high-pressure castings such as water pumps, compressors, engine blocks and gear box
casing. The technique provides a high strength watertight repair without the need for
welding. The metal stitching system uses a series of interlocking studs and involves the
drilling of the cast iron using hand-held drills to form a threaded hole to take the stitching
stud. The holes are cut with a specially tapped spiralhook thread, which engages with the
studs to effectively draw the metal into the threads. When used with the patent lock, a
strap device that bridges the crack to prevent separation, a complete repair can be
achieved that is likely to restore the lining material close to its original strength.

The material used for the metal stitching components is compatible with the cast iron in
terms of thermal expansion properties and corrosion compatibility.

The repair system is potentially useful for the repair of cracked linings. In the case of
badly corroded sections where there is a complete loss of section it may be possible to cut
out the corroded section and replace with a new section using the metal stitching
technique to bond the new to the old.

Figure 5.11 Metal stitching process (courtesy Lock N’ Stitch UK Ltd)

A typical repair uses the lock plate and stitching stud (see Figure 5.11). The locks are first
installed normal to the crack and the stitch holes are then drilled along the length of the
crack between the locks (see Figure 5.12).

Figure 5.12 Example of metal stitching of cast iron tunnel lining

Stud sizes can range between 5 mm and 30 mm diameter, depending on the width of the
crack and are drilled the full depth of the material to be repaired.

The result is a completely watertight repair with the ability to take induced stress and
prevent further cracking.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 165 Wrought iron and steel repairs

Welding wrought iron and steel

Welding is generally the most effective and practicable option for the repair or
strengthening of steel used in tunnel linings, and with some limitations (Bussell, 1997) can
be used on wrought iron, although some asset owners do not condone this. Welding in situ
may be carried out using electrical arc welders or oxy-acetylene gas welding techniques.
The choice of welding technique in an underground situation will depend on issues such
as the materials to be welded, access, environmental conditions and tunnel owner’s or
asset steward’s stipulations (health and safety/operational constraints). If welding is to be
carried out, consideration should also be given to the practicalities of welding in situ,
including the risk to tunnel services that may be present. For example, cables may require
removal or displacement which, if old themselves, could cause damage to cable sheathing.
The use and/or storage of welding equipment and gas bottles underground, welding in
confined spaces and possible risk of fire are other issues that will need to be taken into

If water is present it may not be possible to weld using conventional equipment without
the water being controlled and kept away from the area being welded. Other precautions
to be taken include the removal of toxic materials that may be present and affected by the
welding. This may include the presence of lead paint and plastic coverings that would
emit potentially noxious gases and be a health and safety risk.

When deciding on the correct welding technique it is important to consider the age of the
structure. Also, in certain circumstances wrought iron may not be distinguishable from
steel without proper analysis. So specialist advice should be sought. For welding to be
successful consideration needs to be given to the chemical composition, mechanical
properties and metallography of the metal being welded, combined with the appropriate
choice of welding electrodes and welding practice.

In principle (Bussell, 1997):

 wrought iron can be butt-welded successfully, but fillet welds are likely to fail by
lamellar tearing
 with the right choice of welding materials and procedures old steel can be welded

Old or early steel is considered to be steel manufactured before 1906, the date when BS
15 (BSI, 1908 revised 1962) was first introduced for the specification of structural steel for
bridges and general building construction. It was superseded by BS 4360 (BSI, 1968).

During the repair the quality of the weld should be continually checked. The final weld
should be smooth with no notches. If necessary, grinding should be undertaken to
maintain smooth flowing contours. On completion of the repair the weld should be
inspected for smoothness and quality. Examinations for the presence of defects should also
be carried out using NDT methods, such as ultrasound and/or magnetic particle
inspection. Typical acceptance criteria that may be applied to NDT can be found in BS EN
1011-1 (BSI, 1998b) and BS EN 1011-2 (BSI, 2001b).

Detailed guidance on site welding iron and steel structures is given in SCI (2002).

Figure 5.13 Strengthening repair of buckled steel section lintel used in an opening of a
cast iron lined tunnel due to structural defect (courtesy Tubelines Ltd)

Bolted repair to wrought iron and steel

Repairs and strengthening of wrought iron and steel are often carried out using bolted
connections, for example, bolting flange plates to the underside of beams. Connections
between components are made using high strength friction grip bolts in accordance with
BS 4604 (BSI, 1970). The design of connections should be in accordance with BS 449
(BSI, 1969).

For the connection to work, the high strength friction grip bolts are tightened to a
specified minimum shank tension so that the load is transferred across the joint by friction
rather than by having the bolt working in shear. When using friction grip bolts to make
connections to wrought iron, care is required to check for bearing due to the lower yield
strength of the iron. The bolts are usually tensioned to the required load using a torque
wrench or the use of load indicating washers, which provide a fool-proof and economical
solution. Alternative repair solutions

One alternative repair solution is the use of composite carbon fibre plates that may be
attached to the structural members to strengthen them. Recent strengthening work using
this method has been successfully carried out on cast iron beams in a jack arch tunnel
lining found on London Underground subsurface lines, where composite carbon fibre
plates were glued to the underside of the beams. The advantages of this system of repair
included reduced man-handling requirements due to the plates being very light in weight
compared with steel plates and speed of installation. Similar repairs on other projects
using steel plates glued to structural steel and reinforced concrete have also been carried

For further information on plate-bonding and other types of repair to metallic elements,
see Tilly et al (2007) and Cadei et al (2004).

Replacement of cast iron linings with stainless steel has been carried out near Old Street
Station on London Underground, where the original cast iron linings had deteriorated

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 167

sufficiently from aggressive groundwater to warrant replacement. This form of lining is an
exceptional case and would not usually be considered due to cost. Details of this work is
given in Case study A1.9 on Old Street Tunnel.

5.4.3 Concrete tunnel linings

There are a range of methods available for localised or more general repair and
improvement of concrete in tunnel linings. The most appropriate method will be chosen
based on factors similar to those of concrete repair (for example, the cause and nature of
deterioration), and in tunnels the practical problems associated with carrying out the
repairs is often particularly important.

Concrete repair usually involves the removal and replacement of damaged or defective
concrete with one of a variety of repair materials, or using extra materials on an existing
concrete element. However it also covers using a wide variety of other techniques to
improve durability and slow deterioration where it is already occurring such as the
application of protective coatings, the use of corrosion inhibitors and the installation of
systems for cathodic and sacrificial anodic protection.

The cost of repairs often depends on the provision of access and labour, with the cost of
materials less significant. The selection of the most appropriate techniques and materials
should not be compromised for minor cost savings.

A good understanding of the condition of the deteriorated element, the cause and severity
of deterioration is a prerequisite for successful repair. The most common cause of
deterioration in reinforced concrete is reinforcement corrosion, but deterioration can be
caused by a range of other factors including physical impact, chemical attack or fire.
Remedial work will have one of four aims:

1 Where deterioration has not started but the risk of deterioration or insufficient
durability has been identified, preventative work may be carried out to improve
durability and delay damage.
2 Where reinforcement corrosion has been initiated (detected by testing) but concrete
deterioration has not become manifest, measures can be taken to reduce corrosion
rates and delay the onset of damage.
3 Where deterioration is continuing and damage has occurred, it can be repaired and
extra measures taken to arrest or reduce the rate of future deterioration.
4 To reinstate or improve lining strength, either to remedy the effects of deterioration
or to provide further structural capacity to an under-strength element.

Table 5.3 illustrates the range of methods available for use in each of these four scenarios.

Table 5.3 Principles and available methods for prevention and repair of deterioration to structural

Purpose Principle Available method

 surface treatment/impregnation
1 Preventative
Improve inadequate concrete durability  surface coatings
 migrating corrosion inhibitors.

 migrating corrosion inhibitors

To reduce the rate of continuing  cathodic protection (impressed current or
2 Corrosion sacrificial anode)
reinforcement corrosion and delay the
onset of concrete damage  realkalisation
 chloride extraction.

To reinstate physical damage (whether  concrete repair/reinstatement (patch repair,

3 Repairs to caused by corrosion, physical impact, sprayed concrete, flowable concrete, recasting
damage chemical attack or fire) and minimise with formwork) combined with preventative
continuing deterioration methods as in 1 and 2.

To reinstate or improve element capacity,  replacement of structural steel and recasting

4 Structural either as a response to loss of strength concrete
strengthening through deterioration or to changes in  plate-bonding
requirements  increasing section by adding concrete or mortar.

While a detailed review of concrete repair methods is beyond the scope of this publication,
an overview of concrete repairs and other types of repair (including preventative,
strengthening and enhancement methods) is given in the following sections, as they apply
to tunnel repairs. Concrete repairs

Concrete repairs may involve the replacement of existing damaged or defective concrete,
or the use of further concrete to increase the section of an element. Where local repairs
are required, the former is often the most appropriate method, involving the application
of patch repairs by hand. Where more general, widespread repair or structural
improvement is necessary, the use of sprayed concrete is preferred, although the
associated reduction in the internal cross-section of the tunnel may not be acceptable in
some situations.

In carrying out any repair the objective is to provide adequate protection to the existing
lining components to enable the lining to function as a load bearing structure. Unless load
is removed from structural elements before repair, the repair will only contribute to
resistance of extra loads. The ability of the repair to resist loading will depend on a range
of characteristics including its compressive strength, elastic modulus and bond strength
with existing concrete. Differential shrinkage and creep should also be considered.
Suitability and compatibility of materials and their influence on the structural behaviour of
the lining elements is an important consideration.

Reference should be made to BS EN 1504, the comprehensive new British Standard for
products and systems for the protection and repair of concrete structures. This standard
includes 10 parts:

 Part 1 includes definitions

 Parts 2 to 7 include product specifications
 Part 8 addresses product conformity
 Part 9 provides a methodology for assessment and repair selection
 Part 10 addresses site execution and quality control.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 169

Parts 9 (BSI, 1997) and 10 (BSI, 2003b) are of particular relevance to those determining a
strategy for and executing repairs on concrete structures.

Where repairs involve the removal of material from structural members, an assessment
should be made of the extent to which the tunnel’s structure will be affected. Any
necessary temporary support and/or limitations on extent of repair at any one time should
be specified.

Local repairs (patch repairs)

Patch repair involves the local removal and replacement of damaged or defective areas of
concrete, usually those that are cracked and spalling. This can be achieved using
mechanical breakers but increasingly (and preferably) by hydro demolition for all but very
small repairs. The boundary of the repair should ideally encompass all defective material
and extend a short distance into sound concrete. In chloride-contaminated concrete it is
common to specify removal of all concrete containing more than 0.3 per cent total
chloride, although in practice it is sometimes necessary to relax this figure to avoid
excessive replacement. Generally it is best to remove concrete from behind reinforcement
to allow the latter to be completely encapsulated by the repair material, particularly where
chlorides are present. Saw-cuts are then made at the boundaries of the repair to provide
clean and well-defined edges. Any reinforcement within the repair should be surface-
cleaned and treated according to the requirements of the repair material. Where
corrosion has resulted in significant loss of section in structural steel, it may be necessary
to add reinforcement to reinstate capacity.

There are a wide variety of generic and proprietary concrete repair materials available
and selection of appropriate materials is an important factor in achieving a successful
repair. This should be based on a consideration of the function of the repair (for example,
whether structural or non-structural, cosmetic, or to protect reinforcement from chlorides
or carbonation), and any constraints (for example, on the size and shape of the repair, its
location, or on the period available for application or hardening/curing). Compatibility
between the physical and chemical properties of the repair material and its substrate is an
important factor, in particular shrinkage/expansion, strength and stiffness and coefficient
of thermal expansion. Where repairs are extensive or performance particularly critical,
trials and testing should be considered.

As well as plain cementitious materials (concretes and mortars) a wide range of polymer-
modified cementitious materials and resin-based materials are available, which can be
used to meet specific repair requirements. A consideration of the characteristics of these
materials and their suitability for differing applications is beyond the scope of this
publication, and specialist advice should be sought when selecting and specifying repair
materials. Further guidance is given in BS EN 1504-3 (BSI, 2005d) and some information
on the principal methods and materials is included in Table 5.4.

Table 5.4 Concrete repair methods and materials

Repair mortars are most commonly used for patch repairs with limited size, less than 1 m area and up to

Hand-placed mortars or concrete

about 30 mm in thickness. For thicker repairs and of use in larger areas, proprietary repair concrete or
design mix repair concrete may be used.
Generic Portland-cement based materials can be used but need to be compensated for shrinkage. Bond
strength may be limited (though this may be improved by making mechanical connections with sound
concrete or by cutting back beyond reinforcement). Depending on the repair location and dimensions it may
be difficult to place and compact.
More expensive, proprietary polymer-modified cementitious materials are frequently used where there are
particular requirements for high bond strength, good chemical resistance, low permeability, rapid setting and
curing and limits on the thickness of repair. They can also be applied to vertical or overhead surfaces without
formwork and built up in thin layers to form a thicker repair, although this can introduce discontinuities that
potentially reduce durability. Resin-based repair materials will degrade at much lower temperatures than
cement-based materials, so caution is needed where they are required to reinstate structural elements that
require fire resistance.
Flowable grout
or concrete

For large repair areas flowable grout or self-compacting concrete can be used and does not require
compaction/vibration in situ. These materials are carefully poured into formwork to produce the required
repair shape and are useful for rebuilding badly damaged elements.

Sprayed concrete is frequently used for tunnel lining repairs where it is necessary to replace large areas of
defective concrete or to thicken and strengthen existing structural elements. It has the advantage that it can

be applied rapidly over large areas in a single operation. The concrete can either be dry mix or, for reduced
rebound, wet mix and can be modified (for instance, by the incorporation of polymers) to meet performance
requirements. It is generally considered good practice to include a light steel fabric within the repair. Skilled
and experienced operatives are required and it is not feasible to produce very thin (<100 mm) layers or to
treat small areas.

For further guidance refer to TRL AG43 (TRL, 2002) and the Concrete Society TR38
(Concrete Society, 1991).

Local patching of deteriorating concrete does not protect the area beyond the repair, and
may even lead to accelerated deterioration of adjacent areas (through the incipient anode
effect). Depending on the original cause of the problem, this approach often requires an
acceptance of further patching to treat future damage on an ad hoc basis as it appears. To
reduce future requirements, it may be useful to consider combining patch-repairs with
other types of preventative or corrosion-reducing treatment (discussed in Section

Figure 5.14 Typical patch repair of pre-cast concrete tunnel lining

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 171

Crack sealing and repair
Before carrying out crack repairs it is important to ascertain the cause of cracking because
this can indicate structural problems and the need to carry out structural repairs rather
than simply sealing the cracks. Where tunnel linings have cracked due to continued
overstressing, (ie active cracking due to external effects such as increased ground loading)
then re-construction of the tunnel lining or strengthening, as discussed in Section 5.4.4,
may be necessary. Cracks in pre-cast concrete segmental linings that are inert, for
example, those resulting from damage due to transport or handling during construction,
or from shrinkage, and no longer showing signs of propagation, may be sealed to preserve
durability and/or prevent water seepage. Where cracking is the result of reinforcement
corrosion, the underlying cause should be determined and it may be appropriate to break-
out defective concrete and repair using the patch-repair techniques discussed earlier.

Crack sealing and structural repairs are generally carried out by injection of a flowable
repair material through a series of injection ports inserted along the crack’s length.
Typically the injection is carried out under pressure. A wide variety of materials, including
SBR, acrylic and co-polymer emulsions, as well as various types of low-viscosity resins are
potentially suitable for crack sealing and repairs. Resin-injection is a specialist activity and
requires careful selection of materials and experienced specialist contractors for good

Selection of a suitable material will depend on a variety of factors, including crack width,
the requirement for accommodation of future movement, the need for restoring load-
transfer, and whether any moisture is present in the substrate. Where considerable extra
movements are anticipated, crack-sealing materials are likely to fail and consideration
should be given to chasing out a groove at the surface of the crack and using a flexible
sealant capable of accommodating the movement.

If the crack is a source of water ingress, the crack should also be sealed by injection of a
suitable resin-based grout using those techniques described in Section 6.4.

Further guidance on the principles and methods for crack injection of concrete structures
are included in DD ENV 1504-9 (BSI, 1997), under Principle 1 (Protection against ingress
and waterproofing) and Principle 4 (Structural strengthening). Specifications for injection
products and systems are included in BS EN 1504-5 (BSI, 2004a).

Figure 5.15 Example of cracking in pre-cast expanded concrete tunnel lining

(crack highlighted by paint marking during inspection)

172 Other types of treatment and repair

Depending on the requirements, other types of treatment and repair can be carried out
independently of concrete repairs or in combination with them. They are used to slow the
progress of and/or minimise the effects of reinforcement corrosion and can be used as
preventative measures or, where deterioration has already occurred, to improve future
durability or structural performance.

Surface treatments
These fall into two main categories – coatings and impregnations which aim to limit the
ingress of deleterious substances such as chloride ions and carbon dioxide into the
concrete, and migrating inhibitors, which aim directly to reduce the corrosion rate of
otherwise depassivated reinforcement.

Because they can only readily be applied on the lining intrados, the usefulness of coatings
and impregnating treatments in tunnels depends on the source of the deleterious
substances. For example, they might be useful in protecting concrete from chlorides in de-
icing salts used within a highway tunnel, but will not be effective if the chlorides are
present in groundwater at the extrados. The majority of surface impregnators are based
on silanes, siloxanes and silicone resins and their hydrophobic action allows the concrete
to breathe while reducing the ingress of moisture and dissolved contaminants. These types
of material are useful in protecting against intermittent wetting and drying, but not
intended for use where water is ponded or under pressure. They have a considerable
history of use in highways structures and guidance on their use and application is given in
the BA 33/90 (HA, 2007).

For further information on surface treatments for concrete refer to the Concrete Society
(1997). Also guidance on the principles and methods for the surface treatment of concrete
structures are included in DD ENV 1504-9 (BSI, 1997), and specifications for products
and systems are included in BS EN 1504-2 (BSI, 2004b).

Another type of surface-applied treatment is the use of migrating corrosion inhibitors

(MCIs), which modify the chemistry of the concrete in contact with reinforcing steel to
inhibit steel dissolution and prevent or slow the progress of corrosion. They are soluble
salts that are applied in solution to concrete surfaces, but to be effective they should
diffuse through the cement paste in the vapour phase and accumulate at a suitable
concentration at the reinforcement surface. This presents problems where the concrete is
saturated above a certain level, or in relatively good quality concrete which is not
sufficiently permeable. This type of treatment is not yet able to demonstrate a proven
record of success but it may be of benefit in certain situations.

In tunnels, one advantage of surface treatments is that they are relatively rapid to apply,
although pre-cleaning may be needed to remove surface dust and grime from dirty
concrete surfaces. The health and safety implications of using chemical treatments in
confined spaces needs to be carefully considered and risks controlled through, for
example, suitable application techniques and assisted ventilation.

Cathodic protection (CP)

Cathodic protection is an electrochemical treatment that can prevent corrosion of
reinforcement in structures where the concrete is contaminated with chlorides (or, in
certain circumstances, where concrete is carbonated). It involves generating a small
electric current between the reinforcement (which acts as a cathode) and an anode.
Typically the anode is a conductive metallic coating or mesh at the concrete surface

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 173

through which a low voltage DC current is passed (known as impressed current cathodic
protection or ICCP). Less commonly, the anode is provided by an electrochemically active
metal (in sacrificial or galvanic anode cathodic protection, SACP) although this type of
system offers less control over the process. Embedded discrete anodes can be inserted into
holes drilled into the concrete surface, or included in repaired areas of concrete to
provide local protection to reinforcement.

The principal advantage of CP treatment is that only damaged areas of concrete need be
repaired, and there is no need to try to remove all chloride-contaminated (or carbonated)
material, which can sometimes be unfeasible. However, CP systems need to be custom-
made for individual structures, requiring careful design and installation by specialists
followed by a requirement for continuing maintenance and monitoring of performance.
Applied in tunnels, costs are likely to be significantly higher than for more accessible
structures but despite relatively high initial costs, in the long-term this type of protection
may be an economical alternative to repeated phases of local concrete repair.

Cathodic protection is dealt with in BS EN 12696 (BSI, 2000b) and further information
and guidance is given in the Concrete Society TR36 (Concrete Society, 1989a).

Chloride extraction and realkalisation

These are specialist treatments that can be used for treating chloride-contaminated and
carbonated concrete respectively. They are similar to cathodic protection because they rely
on applying a small electric current to the concrete. Both involve the installation of
external anodes at the concrete surface and associated electrical supplies, and require
careful monitoring during the treatment process.

Chloride extraction is a one-off treatment which attempts to remove chloride ions by

causing them to migrate out of the concrete into an external anode, under the influence
of an electrical field. Potentially this can effect a significant reduction in chloride
concentration in the concrete and restore passivity of reinforcement.

A similar impressed current method can be used to restore concrete’s protective alkalinity
to reinforcement, where this has been lost through carbonation. Realkalisation reverses
the fall in pH value which occurs on concrete carbonation, re-establishing the passivity of
reinforcing steel.

These types of treatment are not suitable for all situations, and there are limitations and
risks (the potential for causing hydrogen embrittlement of reinforcement and promoting
alkali-silica reaction of the concrete) associated with their use, which require careful
assessment in advance. They are specialist treatments and need to be installed and
operated by experienced specialist contractors. It is important to appreciate that they are
one-off treatments and once completed the ingress of chlorides/progress of carbonation
will begin again. Further measures may be appropriate to prevent similar problems
recurring within the required serviceable life.

Treatment times are usually between four to six weeks for chloride extraction and one to
two weeks for realkalisation (Broomfield, 2004). Access for installation, reduction in
clearances, provision of power and access for monitoring during and after application
(although this can be achieved remotely) are particular considerations for use in tunnels.

For further information, see Broomfield (2004), and the European Standard BS DD CEN/
TS 14038-1 (BSI, 2004d).

Plate-bonding techniques, using either steel or fibre-reinforced composite materials, can
be used to strengthen structural elements against bending or shear forces. They may be
used in combination with conventional concrete repairs to restore capacity to damaged
elements. These techniques rely on bond strength with the original concrete or repairs, so
careful inspection of the substrate concrete to identify weakened or delaminating areas is
vital. Remedial work should follow to address any inadequacies and careful preparation of
the substrate surface before applying adhesives and bonding. Further guidance is given in
the Concrete Society TR55 (Concrete Society, 2004). The principles and methods for
plate-bonding of concrete structures are included in DD ENV 1504-9 (BSI, 1997), and
specifications for products and systems are included in BS EN 1504-4 (BSI, 2004c).

In tunnels plate-bonding techniques have the potential advantage that they can increase
strength and resistance to certain forces without significantly adding to lining thickness
and reducing clearances within the tunnel. They may also be useful where strengthening
using sprayed concrete is unfeasible for this reason.


During the life of a tunnel it may be necessary to carry out more extensive repairs to
improve the condition of the tunnel lining and may involve the replacement or
strengthening of structural elements. Such works may be necessary because the tunnel
lining has deteriorated beyond the point where routine maintenance works can keep it in
an operationally safe condition, where the loadings acting on the tunnel lining have
changed, or where a change of use is intended.

For many tunnel owners, routine maintenance works may come under annual budgets set
aside for the overall management of the tunnel. However, improvement works beyond
routine maintenance can mean greater expenditure, and the works themselves are likely
to have a greater impact on the operation of the tunnel. Complete tunnel closure is the
most efficient environment for carrying out such works, but may not be operationally or
economically viable. Careful planning and the selection of appropriate techniques and
methodologies is critical for major works of this type, where the cost of the physical works
may be less than the incidental costs associated with suspension or disruption of services.
Carrying out the work during partial or multiple short duration closures may be feasible.

5.5.1 Replacement and strengthening existing tunnel linings

Many options exist within a tunnel where the existing lining is severely deteriorated,
damaged or otherwise inadequate for resisting imposed loadings. These could include the
replacement of the existing lining with a new lining, strengthening the existing lining with
the installation of a new permanent secondary structural lining, or the replacement of
individual components of the existing lining (as with segmental lined tunnels). The most
commonly used replacement and lining strengthening techniques are summarised in
Table 5.5 with an indication of the likely application for different tunnel lining types and
operational use.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 175

Replacement of the lining in its entirety may be the only viable option if there are
clearance restrictions that would not allow the installation of a secondary structural lining
or other support system that may interfere with the operation of the tunnel.

Where there is sufficient clearance, and the existing lining has deteriorated to such an
extent as to become inadequate, a more cost-effective option may be the installation of a
secondary, permanent structural lining installed within the existing tunnel. Secondary
lining may also be used to improve the structural capacity of the existing lining if
conditions affecting the existing lining have changed significantly and the existing lining is
operating at or close to its structural capacity. In this case the secondary lining may not
need to be designed to take the full, expected loading but could use the inherent
structural capacity of the existing lining.

The option to reline a previously unlined tunnel showing signs of instability may also be
available and the principles used in design should be the same as for a new tunnel.

When considering replacement or strengthening works as an option, the works

themselves are likely to have a significant impact on the operation of the tunnel. They may
involve complete closure, taking it out of service for the duration of the works.
Alternatively through the design of suitable temporary works the tunnel may remain in
operation during the works while providing protection to the tunnel users and workers
alike, thereby minimising closures. Other considerations when planning the works include
the need to remove or reposition important services and live cables that may be present,
requiring a long lead-in before starting the tunnel remediation works.

The method or methods employed to replace or strengthen a tunnel will depend on the
type of tunnel lining and its particular function. The tunnel owner or asset steward may
also prefer to employ specific techniques that may be subject to whether the works are to
be carried out by the tunnel owner’s or asset steward’s own work force, or are to be
contracted out under a specific design or design and build contract. Whatever the
technique used the following should be considered during the design and implementation

 foundations of the existing lining may require checking for the new loading
arrangement. New strip or raft foundations may be required to support the new
lining system
 proposed new foundation arrangement may be affected by the presence of existing
buried services beneath the structure
 the presence of extensive tunnel services within the tunnel. Significant and disruptive
works may be required to move or alter services to allow the replacement or relining
of the tunnel
 temporary stability of the lining during works should be considered at the design and
construction stages, allowing for excavation for installation of new foundations,
installation of a replacement lining or strengthening an existing lining
 areas of extensive bulging (in brick or stone masonry linings) may need to be removed
before the installation of any relining works. Temporary support of the area may be
necessary where the lining has been removed before construction of the new lining
 provision should be made to channel groundwater that may be seeping though the
existing lining, either temporarily or permanently, in the form of weep pipes, ducting
and/or waterproof membranes
 the appearance of the structure from within may be significantly affected, but unless
the tunnel is of historic importance is unlikely to be a concern

 when relining to strengthen, inspection of the existing structure will not be possible
following installation of the lining system. But this is not important if the existing
structure becomes redundant
 the design life of the replacement or strengthening works may be specified by existing
standards or should be determined by the requirements of the asset owner/steward
 environmental conditions affecting the replacement or strengthening works, either
external or internal, corrosion protection from aggressive ground water or use of
road salts during winter
 specialist fabricators manufacturing either cast iron, steel or concrete liners (or
alternative lining material types) will need more lead in time scheduled into the
scheme programme
 environmental impacts.

The following sections discuss further considerations for more commonly used techniques
in either replacing or strengthening existing tunnel linings. Replacement of tunnel lining

Replacing an existing tunnel lining with a new lining should only be considered if the
existing lining is beyond repair and there are severe clearance restrictions that would
prevent installation of the secondary structural lining or other support system within the
existing tunnel. Replacement may be the only option available if the existing tunnel lining
is functioning below the required capacity or the clearance needs of the tunnel are to be
increased, requiring over excavation of the existing tunnel profile.

When considering replacing an existing lining, it may be an option to remove the entire
lining and replace with a new lining, or structural components such as foundations or
structural inverts (as in the case of non-circular tunnels) may be re-used with the new
lining built upon them. The latter can only be considered if the existing foundations and
invert are sound and have sufficient structural capacity to take expected loadings from the
new lining.

An important consideration when replacing an existing lining is that the ground may
require continuous temporary support during removal before installing the replacement
lining. In these circumstances there are advantages in using segmental lining techniques
which limit the amount of open, unsupported ground and can provide almost immediate
support and protection to workers carrying out the works.

An example of this solution is the refurbishment of the Blisworth Canal tunnel in 1984,
replacing 900 m of severely distorted masonry lining with a pre-cast concrete segmental
lining. The method adopted was to replace the 5 m wide by 5.5 m high, 0.5 m thick brick
lined tunnel with a 6 m internal diameter pre-cast concrete segmental lining. This was
achieved by the hand excavation of an 8 m diameter by 8 m long chamber at one end of
the 900 m long section in which a tunnel shield was erected. The shield was then driven
along the tunnel alignment with the brick lining ripped out by an excavator mounted
within the shield. The new segmental lining was erected immediately behind the tail of the

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 177 Tunnel strengthening

Many techniques exist to strengthen an existing tunnel lining either over the entire length
of the tunnel or over discrete sections. The options available may depend upon the size of
the tunnel and availability of man or machinery. The main reason for selecting
strengthening works is that the existing lining may have inadequate structural capacity
and is exhibiting significant or advanced signs of distortion or deterioration.

Techniques to strengthen an existing tunnel lining may include the installation of a

secondary, permanent lining constructed in situ within the tunnel using for example,
reinforced or unreinforced cast in situ concrete or sprayed concrete, or the installation of a
prefabricated lining system. The main disadvantage with relining is that the structural
clearances within the tunnel will be reduced, impacting on the operational requirements
for the tunnel. But if the reduction of clearance is not important, then relining may be
preferable. Generally it provides the least disruption and is the quickest option available
when compared with replacing the original lining. In many circumstances in the past,
relining has been successfully carried out while the tunnel has remained in operation.

Another consideration is that strengthening works may permanently conceal the original
lining, which may be important if dealing with a tunnel of historic importance or a listed
structure (for example, the renovation of Brunel’s Thames Tunnel by London
Underground, see Case study A1.3). With the existing lining being covered there may be
no future opportunity available for inspection of that lining. However, if the relining is
designed to completely replace it, the need to inspect the original lining would be

Depending on whether the condition of the existing lining is sound and provides an
element of structural capacity, a secondary lining need only be designed to improve the
existing lining giving extra support and reducing the structural thickness of the relining
to a minimum.

Included in this section is the use of ribs with possibly some form of lagging to support a
tunnel lining showing signs of unacceptable distortion. Ribs and lagging may be used in
an emergency or as a temporary measure to provide support while other permanent
works are being done. They may also be used as a permanent solution but this may need
to be restricted due to the limited design life and nature of the materials being used, eg
mild steel ribs and timber lagging. If used as a temporary or permanent solution, as with
any other material or technique with a limited design life, an inspection programme
should be done to monitor the lining for signs of distortion or deterioration on a suitably
frequent basis.

Ribs, steel sets and lattice girders are also commonly used in conjunction with sprayed
concrete to provide a temporary or permanent in situ tunnel lining (see Figure 5.16).

Figure 5.16 Use of ribs and sprayed concrete to provide a secondary lining (Richards and Haider, 1987)

The use of ribs, steel sets and lattice girders with or without lagging is not restricted to use
in previously lined tunnels but can be used in unlined tunnels as a form of primary lining
to provide structural support.

Prefabricated tunnel liners are also included in this section as they provide a secondary
support mechanism that can be installed within an existing tunnel showing signs of
distress or deterioration. The ideal situation for use of prefabricated liners is where a
reduction in clearance within the tunnel is acceptable and where access is limited, time
consuming, expensive or impractical. Although the existing structure is often ignored in
the design of the liner, liners may also be installed as a pure strengthening measure taking
into account the residual strength of the existing lining.

Prefabricated systems include steel or pre-cast concrete liners, which are installed in
immediate contact with the intrados of the existing tunnel lining. Any gaps between the
liner and the existing structure are grouted to provide continuous support to the original
lining. Other types of liners available include glass reinforced plastic (GRP) and glass
reinforced cement (GRC) panels.

The new linings may be designed to be free standing, taking the imposed loading within
the arch of the lining. Alternatively they may be designed to have an extra means of
support, such as anchors tied back within the parent rock or soil surrounding the tunnel
or structural ribs on the intrados of the new lining.

Slip-form liners have been developed and are used in the water and sewage industry to
reline pipes that require rehabilitation. Several techniques are available and some are
applicable for use in man-entry pipes up to about 2.5 m diameter. Those applicable for
this size of pipe or small diameter tunnel include:

 continuous pipe liners – the installation of a continuous length of liner pulled through
the existing pipe. A loose fitting liner that is sometimes grouted around the annulus
to provide support

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 179

 discrete pipe liners – short sections of pipe installed within the pipe to form a
continuous lining
 spiral wound liners – ribbed plastic strips either spirally or helically wound to form a
continuous liner held in position by either the expansion of the liner or grouted in

Materials used to form the pipe liners are generally polyethylene or polypropylene
plastics, or in the case of discrete pipe sections glass reinforced cement (GRC), glass
reinforced plastic (GRP), concrete or plastic reinforced concrete (PRC).

Further guidance and advice on renovation techniques used in sewers can be found in
(Read, 1996) and Atkinson (2000). Replacement of structural elements

If a structural element such as an individual segment or series of segments forming a ring

of a segmental lined tunnel, suffers damage or deterioration, it may be replaced with
identical or similar units.

In some cases this may not be easily achieved as the rings may have been compressed
during construction giving a tight interlocking structure. The joint surfaces may also be
corroded as in the case of steel or cast iron linings, or designed with a step or other
interlocking joint system. However, where it is considered possible and practicable,
replacement with a segment piece or structural element of the same design as the original
will return the lining to its intended load capacity.

When carrying out works to replace structural elements several factors should be

 replacement should be carried out in small areas only in a systematic manner to

ensure stability of the intact lining. Temporary formwork or propping may be
required to support the lining around the section being removed
 with a segmental lined tunnel, care should be exercised when removing or breaking
out the defective segment pieces so as not to damage the adjacent sound segments
 the replacement of segments in a segmental lined tunnel, this should be done on an
individual basis, ideally with only one segment piece removed at a time
 removal of an entire ring of a segmental lined tunnel may require temporary ground
support or ground treatment to prevent collapse of the ground, depending on the
nature of the ground being supported by the tunnel.

Table 5.5 Summary of tunnel lining replacement and strengthening techniques

Description Application implementation Tunnel use

 replacement technique ideally

suited to circular segmental linings
 replacement of that provide continuous support to
existing lining, the the ground during installation
existing lining is  can be installed within an existing
removed and replaced segmental lining provided
with a new lining reduction in clearance is
designed to take full acceptable
Segmental expected ground and  designed to take full expected
linings groundwater stresses ground and groundwater stress if
(includes cast replacing or strengthening of an
 strengthening of an
iron, steel – existing lining, unless used to
existing lining by the
including improve the structural capacity of
installation of a
stainless steel, Replacement an existing lining
secondary structural All types of
pre-cast and Ms, Mt, C, U
lining within the  existing unlined tunnels may tunnels
concrete, strengthening
tunnel, designed to require further excavation to
although other
take full or partial accommodate the new lining
ground and  can provide a watertight lining
materials may
groundwater stresses solution immediately once installed
be used such
as GRP)  lining of a previously  if used to partially replace the
unlined tunnel is existing lining, existing foundations
carried out as with a or inverts will need to be checked
new tunnel and for structural capacity for new
designed to take full lining loadings
expected ground and  new lining is either expanded to
groundwater stresses. make positive contact with the
ground or existing lining, or grouted
to fill any void.

 may be used in all manner of

applications where man or plant
access is available
 used to improve structural capacity
of existing lining as well as
preventing continued deterioration
of the existing lining through
corrosion, erosion, chemical attack,
 replacement of groundwater seepage etc
existing lining, the  formwork required but can limit
existing lining is application on awkward tunnel
removed and replaced profiles
with a new lining  may be reinforced (steel mesh or
designed to take full bars) or unreinforced
expected ground and  use of existing foundations or
groundwater stresses inverts will need to be checked for
 strengthening of an structural capacity for new lining
existing lining by the loading (including loading from
installation of a temporary formwork)
Cast in situ secondary structural  may be used in conjunction with All types of
and Ms, Mt, C, U
concrete lining lining within the rock bolts or anchors etc to tunnels
tunnel, designed to improve structural capacity
take full or partially  may require contact grouting
expected ground and between the existing and
groundwater stresses secondary lining to overcome
 lining of a previously shrinkage effects
unlined tunnel is  generally lengthy process including
carried out as with a assembly of formwork and
new tunnel and the concrete curing. However, pressure
designed to take full placement systems are available
expected ground and for high compaction and total void
groundwater stresses. filling, which when used with quick
and easily assembled formworks
can speed up construction time
 areas of water seepage will need to
be controlled before placing in situ
concrete, although pressure placed
concrete systems can sometime
overcome these problems and
provide a water tight lining.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 181

Table 5.5 Summary of tunnel lining replacement and strengthening techniques (contd)

 may be used in all manner of

applications where man or plant
access is available. Can be used in
non-man entry pipes using robotic
 used to improve structural capacity
of existing lining as well as
preventing continued deterioration
of the existing lining through
corrosion, erosion, chemical attack,
groundwater seepage etc
 may be reinforced (steel mesh or
fibre – steel, glass fibre or
 replacement of synthetic fibre) or un-reinforced
existing lining, the
 may be used in conjunction with
existing lining is
lattice girders, steel ribs or sets,
removed and replaced
rock bolts or anchors etc to
with a new lining
improve structural capacity
designed to take full
expected ground and  may be used in conjunction with
groundwater stresses waterproof membranes to provide
watertight lining
 strengthening of an
existing lining by the  use of existing foundations or
installation of a inverts will need to be checked for
Replacement structural capacity for new lining
Sprayed secondary structural All types of
and Ms, Mt, C, U loading.
concrete lining lining within the tunnels
strengthening  rapid set and early high strength
tunnel, designed to
take full or partially shotcrete available speeding up
expected ground and installation and construction time
groundwater stresses  suited to awkward shaped tunnels
 lining of a previously without the need for formwork
unlined tunnel is  dry and wet mix applications are
carried out as with a available, the selection of which
new tunnel and may depend upon site conditions
designed to take full (eg distance to work site from
expected ground and batching location etc)
groundwater stresses  areas of water seepage will need to
be isolated and controlled.
 rebound shotcrete will need to be
contained to aid cleanup process -
mitigated by the use of low
rebound shotcrete
 small portable plant can be used
for mixing and application
 robotic equipment can be used
which aids quality control,
minimises health and safety issues
and used in non-man entry tunnels
 cost-effective and convenient

 mainly used in circular tunnels or

large pipes
 primarily used to line the tunnel or
pipe to prevent continued
deterioration through corrosion,
erosion, chemical attack, or to
prevent water ingress or leakage
 not used to improve structural
Mainly used in
 loose fitting liners require annular the water and
grouting but may have the sewer
Slip-lining disadvantage of reducing the bore industries but
(includes Strengthening to an or clearance of the tunnel or pipe could be
continuous Strengthenin existing lining that involves  friction build-up with spiral wound applied to
Ms, Mt, C liners could limit installation length
pipe, discrete g pushing or pulling a new other,
pipe and spiral lining into an existing lining  access to end of pipe may be generally
wound liners) required – may involve a temporary small
lead-in trench to locate equipment diameter,
used to insert the lining circular
 quick insertion tunnels
 may be jointed into one long
continuous string or jointed before
insertion or within the tunnel or
pipe if space is restricted
 can accommodate large radius
 any flow in tunnel or pipe will need
to be stopped before insertion

Table 5.5 Summary of tunnel lining replacement and strengthening techniques (contd)

 not strictly a relining technique but

may be built within a tunnel to
provide extra support and help
restrain movement of the existing
tunnel lining
 may be used as a temporary
support measure
 lattice girders are easy to handle
and install compared to steel sets
made up from rolled steel sections
or square hollow sections
 installation of steel
 ribs need to be shaped to the
ribs or sets of light
profile of the tunnel (easily done
weight lattice girders Typically
with lattice girders but more
with or without used in
difficult with steel sections)
Ribs and lagging Strengthening lagging (timber or Ms, U masonry and
steel plate) to provide  in most cases several ribs are unlined
support and restrain installed along the length of the tunnels
movement of the tunnel (spacing dependant upon
tunnel lining specific conditions) and can be
connected together with tie rods to
improve stability
 may be used with some form of
lagging (typically timber but steel
plates can be used). Wedges are
used to provide continuity with the
existing lining
 ribs and lattice girders can be
used in conjunction with shotcrete
as a secondary lining for increased
structural capacity.


Application for tunnel types: Ms=masonry linings (brick and/or stone), Mt=metal lining (cast iron/ steel), C=concrete lining,

5.5.2 Underpinning of masonry-lined tunnels

Underpinning involves the construction of new substructure supports under existing

brickwork or masonry lining foundations where the ability to transfer the imposed loads
from the structure to the formation has deteriorated or failed. This failure may be
attributed to structural defects, changes in loading regime, subsidence and time related
consolidation settlement of the ground below the foundations or a combination of these.

Underpinning could also be employed if there is a future risk of settlement from

proposals to increase imposed loadings, for example, the increase in ground loading due
to land redevelopment above the tunnel.

Before starting, the designer should be satisfied of the mode of failure of the formation
material that is causing settlement and/or instability. Key considerations and actions at the
design phase could include:

 initial dimensional and structural surveys to establish location, extent and size of
structural deterioration/failure. Particular attention to be given to visual signs of
distress in the tunnel lining such as bulging, vertical stepped cracks and fractures
 desktop study of structural records to determine the existing form of substructure
construction and available geological/geotechnical information, both to aid the
planning and specification of the site investigatory works, if required, and design of
the remedial works
 identification of services and utilities likely to impact on the planning of any ground
investigation that may be required and/or the development of a permanent
underpinning solution

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 183

 trial pitting to confirm the dimensions, construction and condition of the existing
 if insufficient geotechnical information is available, do a ground investigation to
establish formation material type, depth to interfaces between varying materials and
to provide samples for laboratory testing
 confirmation of precise location of buried services
 confirmation of type, size and rate of structural failure by precise levelling and/or
from tell-tales
 range of laboratory testing with required outputs for design including strength,
angles of internal friction and settlement/consolidation (eg tri-axial or shear box and
oedometer testing as appropriate for material type)
 groundwater monitoring by piezometers should be considered to establish the
position of the natural water table and to allow hydrostatic pressure to be included in
design calculations, also the planning of construction and associated temporary works
 chemical analysis of soil and ground water samples to be used for sulfate/acid resisting
mix designs, where required.

Once acquired the data should be presented in a geotechnical interpretive report. Along
with the desktop information, this will provide the basis for assessing the cause of existing
settlement problems and/or the potential for settlement in the future.

At an early stage following review of the geotechnical interpretive report the following
criteria should be considered when selecting the underpinning method:

 depth at which the required bearing capacity can be established

 nature of material to be excavated
 total length of structure to be underpinned
 available programme for completion of the works
 physical site constraints (limited plan area, headroom etc).

There are no definitive rules that state the depth at which traditional strip footings and
piles should or should not be employed, as each site and the associated ground conditions
may be judged individually. Also, the following criteria will assist in reaching the most
appropriate solution:

 where consolidation settlement is occurring in a clay horizon, strip footings alone

would be ineffective as the loads will merely be transferred to a lower level permitting
the cycle of settlement to begin again
 underpinning measures should ideally be taken down to relatively incompressible strata
 true actual cause of settlement should be established (eg clay shrinkage, de-vegetation,
subsidence, overloading).

Note that where the failure is deep seated due to mining subsidence or other
circumstances, then traditional methods of underpinning on their own are unlikely to be
effective without further extensive remedial works to stabilise the ground.

The following fundamental criteria should be considered at the design stage:

 imposed loading from structure

 live and imposed ground loading

 exposure conditions and cover to reinforcement used in the underpinning works
 chemical composition of formation stratum and ground water to allow specification of
durable chemically compatible mix
 expected design life of the remedial measures
 connectivity between eccentric pile caps or strip foundations and foundation structure
 where continuous strip foundations are to be used the designer should specify the
maximum length of foundation that can be underpinned at any one time, and should
also indicate a hit and miss sequence for the construction
 the designer should develop a reinforcement schedule that will achieve structural
continuity in conjunction with the intended construction sequence
 consideration should be given to the specification of mixes that are capable of
achieving high early strength, allowing installation periods to be reduced, especially
when working under closures of limited possessions
 for piled solutions the designer should specify the length and diameter of the pile that
will be governed by the structure loadings, allowable bearing pressure of the
formation, end surface area and shaft surface area
 the designer should provide details for the repair of any cracked brickwork or
masonry tunnel lining that occurred as a result of historic settlement.

Other forms of underpinning techniques include ground improvement by chemical or

cement injection. Again these may be carried out either from outside the tunnel or, more
commonly, from inside. For guidance on ground treatment methods see CIRIA C514
(Rawlings et al, 2000) and CIRIA C573 (Mitchell and Jardine, 2002).

Following completion of the works a monitoring regime should be done to measure any
continuing settlement or movement of the tunnel lining. The result from the monitoring
regime should be reviewed at intervals over a period established by the design engineer to
ensure that the underpinning measures have been effective.

The most common form of underpinning techniques employed to remedy failing or failed
substructures include mass concrete continuous strip foundations and piles. These are
briefly described in the following sub-sections. Continuous strip foundations

This method involves the excavation of working pits longitudinal to the foundations being
underpinned at predetermined intervals that will not compromise stability of the
structure. The pits are filled with mass concrete to the underside of the existing
foundation and the process repeated at designed intervals until the desired extent of
underpinning is achieved. The process can then be repeated for the remaining length of
the structure to be stabilised in strict accordance with the specified sequence.

This method is considered suitable where:

 the depth to competent formation is relatively shallow

 material below the existing foundation can be feasibly excavated and adequately
supported with temporary works to prevent collapse
 the water table is below the level of the proposed excavation
 the structure is able to tolerate temporary undermining to form the underpinned
strip foundation.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 185

The concrete should be placed as soon as possible once individual pits have been
excavated. The concrete is placed by pump and/or hand tools and compacted in the
normal manner using appropriate vibrators and agitators to the underside of the existing
foundations. At this stage it is important that the cast in situ concrete is left to set and
shrink (note that this may take time, during which the old foundation is not supported).

Once setting and shrinkage have taken place the void between the cast in situ concrete and
the existing foundation can be filled with a suitable non shrink grout. Pressure grouting
using a cementitious grout could also be employed to ensure that all voids at the interface
between old and new structures are removed.

Following completion the shutter can be removed and the working pit backfilled with a
specified fill using appropriate means of compaction.

Other key aspects to note in the continuous strip foundation underpinning technique

 development of approved design for the temporary support of the working pits. For
guidance see CIRIA R97 (Irvine and Smith, 1983)
 planning of hit and miss sequence for excavation and installation of underpinning
concrete foundations
 careful excavation of working pits and portion of failed formation underneath
existing foundations to proposed new formation level
 health and safety aspects of excavation using hand-held tools
 shuttering is normally installed between working pit and proposed underpinning to
contain pour
 concrete mix to be checked for compliance with specification via laboratory and field
testing. Piling methods

Piling offers a suitable solution where the competent stratum is at a depth that would
preclude the use of strip foundations. Depending on ground conditions various piling
methods can be employed with cased or uncased bored piles being the most common.
Displacement piles are not normally favoured due to the potential for vibration and
displacement of the ground to adversely affect the structure being stabilised. Bored piles
are also favoured from the standpoint of accessibility as the installation rigs are capable of
operating in locations of low headroom.

Figure 5.17 Underpinning a tunnel portal structure by piling to prevent structural movement

The two main installation techniques that can be used for piled underpinning solutions to
successfully address problems of access are:

1 Where the existing foundation of the tunnel is of a significant width or there are
significant restrictions on the surface, it may be more practical to install mini-or micro
piles (commonly known as root piles) from within the tunnel. These piles can be
drilled using low percussive equipment from vertical to a steep raking angle through
the tunnel lining and foundations into the formation. Once formed, galvanised or
stainless steel bars are inserted into the holes and grouted. These piles are particularly
useful where limited space is available for installation and where ground conditions
prohibit hand excavation. They are also particularly appropriate if the area adjacent
to the base of the lining is congested with services and utilities.
2 The installation of piles from the surface with the pile cap formed adjacent to the
foundation in plan on the extrados of the tunnel. The piles are capped with a
reinforced concrete pile cap that extends under the existing foundation. This method
involves excavation to the underside of the foundation of the tunnel to form the pile
cap in a manner similar to the construction described for continuous strip footings to
ensure structural stability is maintained throughout construction. Care is required to
be able to locate the line of the tunnel linings by precise surveying methods and strict
control on verticality during installation.

When carrying out piled underpinning solutions the major steps and points for
consideration during design and construction include:

 the appointment of competent specialist piling contractors at the earliest opportunity

during the design phase. By involving this expertise early the designer will be able to
specify the pile type with buildability input
 through previous experience and expertise the piling contractor will be able to review
the site constraints and ground conditions to develop the most appropriate and cost-
effective means of installing the piles
 physical site constraints may limit the available space for installation. The pile size,
numbers and arrangement will need to be designed around an installation rig that
feasibly can operate within the site constraints where early strength is required, or
where piling through loose material, it may be prudent to consider using permanent

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 187

casings that will provide improved structural performance and will ensure that pile
does not suffer localised necking during installation. If necking occurs, little or no
cover is afforded to reinforcement leading to potential corrosion and early failure of
the pile
 in water bearing sandy soils boring should proceed carefully to prevent draw down of
sand into the hole. Pumping of ground water from the hole is not recommended as
this will lead to settlement caused by boiling at the base of the hole.

When this cantilevered pile cap method is employed the piles are installed to the designed
arrangement in advance of excavation for the pile cap. Once installed the piles are
exposed and reduced to underside of pile cap level. It is recommended that the pile is
dowelled with stainless steel kicker bars to provide durability in the structural connection
between the pile cap and piles.

5.5.3 Invert repair (strengthening/replacement)

Structural inverts to masonry and concrete lined tunnels are an integral part of the lining
and may be installed at the time of construction from brick, cast in situ concrete or laid as
pre-cast units. In shallow tunnels no structural invert may be present with the tunnel walls
founded on continuous strip foundations. Where the tunnel is located at depth the
structural invert may be required to accommodate uplift forces, although there are
exceptions, for instance in old brick lined tunnels through soft ground located above the
groundwater table.

Circular segmental lined tunnels are not considered in this section as they have no
separate invert, with the whole lining acting as one unit within the ring to resist stresses
imposed by ground and groundwater.

Inverts fail because of increased uplift forces, possibly from rising groundwater or long-
term redistribution of ground stresses. Many early tunnels have suffered from flat inverts,
which have later failed. For example, flat inverts were used in canal tunnels to reduce the
amount of puddle clay that was used to hold water in the canal.

Where a tunnel invert has failed or is showing signs of excessive deterioration or distress,
either strengthening or replacement repair works will need to be carried out.

Invert repair work, whether routine maintenance, or replacement, or structural

strengthening works, is likely to be very disruptive and may severely affect the operation
of the tunnel through full or partial closure of the tunnel. It may be possible in certain
circumstances to affect repairs to the invert in stages on one half of the tunnel at any one
time, thereby keeping the tunnel partially open with minimal disruption to its operational
use. Canal and water or sewer tunnels will most likely require complete closure to carry
out invert repairs.

Recent repairs to failed inverts have been the complete removal of the original invert and
replacement with a new reinforced or mass concrete invert with a greater curvature than
the original invert to take expected radial and horizontal stresses. Earlier examples of
invert repairs in masonry tunnels included the removal of the original invert and
replacement with another masonry invert, also on a greater curvature.

Relining the existing invert with a reinforced concrete overslab may also be an option
provided there is sufficient headroom clearance to accommodate the new invert, and that
the foundations to the sidewalls of the tunnel can take the imposed uplift stresses.


Figure 5.18
Details of a replacement invert (a)
details of an overslab invert (b)

An important point to be considered at an early stage of any repair or strengthening

works to the invert of the tunnel is the control required to maintaining the stability of the
existing tunnel during the works. This may also be necessary when carrying out routine
maintenance works such as localised patch repairs to the invert. Temporary works to
support the tunnel may be required during excavation of the invert depending on the
extent of the repair being carried out. Excavation of the failed invert may need to be
carried out in transverse bays of restricted width (eg 2 m wide bays), with the full
reconstruction completed and specified concrete strengths achieved for each bay before
proceeding to the next bay. A programme of monitoring is recommended during the
repair reconstruction period to check the stability of the tunnel and adequacy of any
temporary support at each stage of the works.

5.5.4 Rock stabilisation: unlined tunnels

Remedial measures for unlined tunnels range from local removal of loose rock through to
construction of new structural linings. Measures include:

 scaling of loose material and block removal (with consideration of the global
discontinuity patterns and potential for loosening further areas of rock on removal)
 rockfall protection shelters (at portals and within a tunnel as a passive measure)
 spot bolting of individual blocks and defects
 localised pattern bolting
 systematic rock bolts to reinforce zones of poor rock mass
 rock bolts with rockfall protective mesh to protect against spalling and sloughing
between bolts
 sprayed concrete for areas of progressive deterioration or as a structural lining
 ribs or steel sets
 lattice girders
 cast in situ concrete lining.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 189

The application of each of these methods is outlined in the following sections. The
detailed description and design of the support measures is beyond the scope of this guide,
refer to BS 8081:1989 (partially superseded by BS EN 1537: 2000), the DMRB (HA, 1999)
and Hoek (2007).

Further guidance on the description, design and use of rock reinforcement in

underground excavations and structures can be found in Douglas and Arthur (1983),
Chapter 14 of Hoek (2007), Hoek, Kaiser and Bawden (1995) and DMRB (1999).

Scaling, or baring down removes loose surface rock in a controlled manner to prevent
material falling on tunnel users. Most loose surface material should have been removed at
the time of tunnel construction, but there may be occasions where this was not done
thoroughly and loose rock may remain. This is particularly true where careless blasting
practices were used. Loosening of the exposed rock surface may also occur through
weathering, water ingress and stress release.

Scaling should be considered only in places where the remaining rock will be sound and
the rocks to be removed are not providing any support. There is evidence that ad hoc
scaling that has been routinely carried out in the past may have caused further rock
instability. It is suggested that geotechnical observations and discontinuity measurements
be undertaken before any scaling works.

The tunnel infrastructure and services within the tunnel should be protected before
scaling takes place. The required frequency for carrying out scaling works often cannot be
assessed, but it can be undertaken as part of the inspection process for the tunnel. The
need for inspection and scaling should be considered with regard to any known history of
falling material and potential for damage or harm to users of the tunnel. During any
scaling operation, care should be taken to ensure that over scaling does not create
problems through loosening previously tight areas. Areas to be scaled should first be
sounded and scaling activities restricted to areas where the rock sounds hollow.

Scaling can be undertaken using picks or pry-bars from mobile scaffolds. Fallen material
can be collected from the scaffold platform for removal. The use of mechanical peckers
and remotely controlled plant should be considered to protect the health and wellbeing of
the operatives. Larger loose blocks can be carefully removed by prising down onto
platforms constructed close to the rock face to avoid them falling and possibly damaging
the floor or services in the immediate area.

Ideally tunnel floors should be cleaned of scaled material to ensure any future rockfall can
be noted from newly fallen debris (see Section 5.3.1 on tunnel cleaning) as an aid to
identify areas for scaling later.

Rock fall protection structures

Rock fall protection structures, in the form of canopies, are a passive measure aimed at
providing protection from falling material but not for supporting the rock mass in any
way. They should only be considered where there is an acceptance of continued fall of
rock and debris. There is also long-term maintenance responsibility involving the removal
of rock and debris that may accumulate on the structure. When designing a rockfall
protection structure, both impact loads from falling material and static load from the
accumulation of rock and debris should be considered.

For the majority of infrastructure tunnels the loss of clearance would be unacceptable and
the introduction of a rockfall protection structure may not be cost-effective when
considering the structure’s continuing maintenance.

Rock bolts, dowels and cables

Rock bolts and dowels have been used for many years to support underground
excavations and are probably the most frequently used rock support measure today. A
wide variety of bolt, dowel and cable types have been developed to meet specific support

Rock bolts
Rock bolts typically consist of steel bars anchored and/or grouted into the rock mass with a
face plate and conical washer at the rock surface to distribute the load and support mesh.
Other materials used in the manufacture of rock bolts include glass reinforced plastic
(GRP). GRP rock bolts have the advantage of being very flexible and can be bent on a
tight radius for installation in small diameter tunnels. They may also have a longer design
life as they have a much better corrosion resistance than steel bolts. However, there may
be an issue with long-term creep. GRP bolts are also not capable of taking shear stress and
this should be taken into consideration when designing a rock support system. Steel bolts
can withstand some shear component, but where significant shear is anticipated, dowels
should be used.

Rock bolts are tensioned to provide active support to the rock mass. They can be used to
support individual unstable rock blocks or in wider areas installed in a pre-determined
pattern to reinforce the rock mass.

Figure 5.19 Support of unlined tunnels using rock bolts (after CIRIA, 1983)

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 191

Three types of rock bolt are commonly used:

1 Mechanically anchored bolts that include an expansion shell that tightens against the
drill hole wall to fix the bolt as illustrated in Figure 5.20 (a).
2 Cement grouted bolts that are anchored over a specified length at the end of the bolt
within the drilled hole and the remainder of the shaft of the bolt isolated to allow
tensioning, and re-tensioning if necessary, as illustrated in Figure 5.20 (b).
3 Resin bonded bolts where the end of the bolt is anchored by a fast setting resin to
provide the initial anchor to tension the bolt. The remainder of the bolt is bonded to
the rock by slower setting resin, as shown in Figure 5.20 (c).

The advantages and disadvantages of each type are summarised in Table 5.6.

Table 5.6 Summary of different rock bolt types

Bolt type Advantages Disadvantages

Speed of installation Limited to hard rock

Mechanically anchored
Economical Can work loose in weak rock

Economical Difficult to install

Cement grouted
Good corrosion protection Dependant on skilled operatives

One step installation
Can slip in clayey ground
Fast setting
Limited shelf life of materials
Very strong bond under suitable conditions
Resin bonded Hole diameter critical for good resin mixing
Can be used in most rocks
Corrosion protection not as good as cement
Good for difficult access situations
Easy to install in up holes
Temperature sensitive

Rock bolts can be used to hold rockfall protective mesh to provide support to areas of
small loose blocks or spalling rock surfaces between bolt locations, and to provide greater
overall support. Steel straps can also be installed between bolts to provide extra support.

Rock dowels comprise a steel bar grouted into a drill hole with a face plate and nut at the
rock surface. The entire length of the bar is grouted but no tension is applied. Dowels rely
on movement in the rock mass to mobilise load and so are usually only installed shortly
after construction of a tunnel. They are of limited use in remediation of ageing
infrastructure tunnels as the majority of movement will already have taken place and
further movement is likely to be undesirable. However, they can be used to help provide
support to localised defects within the rock mass and hold up rockfall protective mesh.

Two other types of dowel are available, both relying on friction produced directly between
the dowel and the rock without a grout or resin bond. Split sets are C-shaped tubes that
are compressed into slightly undersized drill holes. The spring action of the compressed
tube provides radial pressure to hold the dowel in place. Swellex type bolts are installed
into slightly oversized holes and then expanded against the drill hole wall using water
pressure. Both types are quick to install but corrosion protection is difficult, although
modern versions are plastic coated to provide protection.

Cable bolts
Cable bolts are used extensively in the mining industry, particularly where support is
temporary or sacrificial. They comprise long lengths of steel wire in various cross-sectional
shapes grouted into drill holes. Civil engineering applications are usually restricted to

large underground openings, for example, in hydroelectric power stations where the
larger spans usually require rock support to be taken further back into the rock mass. One
advantage of cable bolts for use in rock strengthening works within tunnels is that they are
flexible and can be used in applications with restricted access.

Sprayed concrete
Sprayed concrete has been used to support underground excavations since the 1930s but
has only come into prominence since the 1970s. Also known as shotcrete, sprayed concrete
comprises cement, sand and fine aggregate applied to the rock surface pneumatically and
compacted under high velocity. There are two principal forms:

Dry mix, where the components are mixed in a hopper and fed using compressed air to a
hose where water is added at the nozzle.

Wet mix, where all components are mixed in a large container and delivered to the nozzle

Both forms of sprayed concrete have similar properties, although the dry mix equipment
is more compact and portable and may be more suited to small scale tunnel remediation
applications. Where large volumes of sprayed concrete are required, for example, if a long
length of tunnel requires treatment, wet mix sprayed concrete may prove more

Advantages in using sprayed concrete include:

 formwork is not required, which can be cost prohibitive and impractical where
difficult access exists. Sprayed concrete operations can often be accomplished in areas
of limited access
 adaptable in application to non-regular surfaces and tunnel profiles
 where thin layers or variable thickness are required, or normal casting techniques
cannot be used
 can be used in temporary or permanent support applications
 excellent bonding of sprayed concrete to other materials is often possible
 sprayed concrete is applied using pneumatic plant thereby producing good
compaction and penetration into surface irregularities
 within limits, sprayed concrete is self-supporting and can be used in overhead
 cost savings are possible because sprayed concreting requires only small plant for
manufacture and placement compared to other support types requiring concrete
 limited closure of the tunnel is possible because the plant used is small and mobile.
Often areas of work can be continued in later shifts, for example, if the tunnel is kept
open during the day or traffic hours, and the works are carried out at night in
engineering hours.

Sprayed concrete can be used in conjunction with rock bolts and rockfall protective mesh
or weld mesh and with ribs or structural steel sets to replace lagging to provide extra
support (see Section 5.5.2).

Recent developments include using silica fume, which acts as a pozzolan to add significant
strength to the sprayed concrete. Steel or synthetic fibres can be added to strengthen the

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 193

concrete and provide ductility. This can remove the need for conventional weld mesh
although this is still used where rock quality is very poor and sprayed concrete adhesion is

The design of sprayed concrete support is imprecise, largely based on rock mass
classifications. Further guidance is provided in Hoek (2007).

 mechanically anchored rock bolt

 cement grouted rock bolt
 mechanically anchored rock bolt
 resin bonded rock bolt

Figure 5.20
Examples of different types of rock bolts


Shafts, whether open, closed, in use or disused, need to be managed through inspection,
maintenance and remedial treatment in the same way as the main tunnel. Where they are
no longer in use and present a maintenance liability, they can be treated to make them
safe while minimising or eliminating any ongoing liability, for instance by capping and

Treatment of a shaft requires a study of the geology and hydrology of the area where it is
located to identify features that may be significant to its stability and the selection of the
most appropriate treatment method. Consideration should be given to the engineering
characteristics of soils and rocks around the shaft and the qualities, quantity, movement
and pressure of water within them (NCB, 1982). The nature and condition of the shaft
lining and any existing capping and/or infill should also be determined. Wherever filling,
capping or other treatments that can impose extra loading to any connecting tunnel lining

are to be considered, the load distribution and adequacy of the support provided by the
tunnel lining should be checked, including the details of its structural connection with the
shaft. The most appropriate method of treatment will require consideration of all these
factors alongside asset owner policies, aims and future strategy.

More detailed advice on the treatment of shafts and the development of land above them
is included in Healy and Head (1984) and in NCB (1982). The latter document also
includes details of the theoretical behaviour of shaft fill material and is now under revision
by the HSE to provide more up-to-date guidance. In the meantime, HSE publication The
design and construction of water impounding plugs in working mines (HSE, 2003)
includes information on design and construction considerations that are relevant to shaft

The following sections provide a discussion of access methods for working on shafts, and
techniques for their maintenance, repair and sealing/filling.

5.6.1 Access for working

Access systems for working within shafts vary according to the nature of the shaft and its
environment, and the specific requirements of the work. The principal factors influencing
the selection and design of such measures include:

 shaft geometry and internal diameter, layout, depth and verticality

 the presence of obstructions (steelwork, garland drains, downpipes etc)
 the scope of the remedial works
 safety requirements.

Suspended platforms are frequently used for work within shafts. There are many specialist
access equipment suppliers who have the expertise to assist with the design and
fabrication of such systems, and they should be compliant with the Lifting Operation
Regulations and Lifting Equipment Regulations 1998 (LOLER) (HSE, 1998a) for man-
riding platforms and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998
(PUWER) (HSE, 1998b). The design should be suitable for transporting staff, equipment
and materials to the necessary locations within the shaft.

Desirable features for such platforms include:

 a minimum of two suspension ropes and winches

 winch controls located on the platform for use by the crew
 a service hoist for delivery of materials and removal of spoil
 adjustable guide wheels for stability against the lining
 a fall arrest system
 provision of emergency access and egress measures.

Other regulations, such as the Confined Spaces Regulations (HMSO, 1997), may specify
further requirements on detailed working methods and safe access, egress and emergency

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 195

5.6.2 Shaft lining maintenance, repair and decommissioning

Maintenance and repair techniques for shafts are similar to those used for the lining of the
main tunnel, as discussed in Sections 5.3 and 5.4. However there are some issues and
methodologies that require special consideration.

Methods of treatment to ensure the safety of shafts include:

 regular inspection, maintenance and repair of the existing lining

 in situ capping or employing a prefabricated cover to prevent subsidence
 consolidation of the shaft by filling and/or grouting
 consolidation and capping
 filling and plugging using cement-based grout.

The types of repairs envisaged will influence the specification and design of the access
system required (see Section 5.6.1).

The design and construction of long-term remedial measures such as caps, plugs and shaft
fillings should follow best civil engineering practice, and with a step by step approach,
involving people with a range of competencies, to build a safe structure that will remain
secure for the life of the tunnel. Health and safety of those involved in investigation and
construction works must be carefully considered and adequate measures taken to identify
and control the associated risks. Deteriorating cross-members

If present, deteriorating beams, decking, cross-members etc may need reinforcement,

removal or replacement, particularly where structural timbers are found because these rot
and disintegrate over time, potentially resulting in instability. Internal elements may also
hinder access to other parts of the shaft lining for inspection or repair. Water ingress

Vertical shafts intercept permeable strata above a tunnel, so they frequently act as points
of water ingress. Water can pass through the lining and into the shaft, or travel down
behind the shaft lining where the ground has been disturbed by its construction.

Often water ingress through shafts has been dealt with by installing garland drains to
capture and channel the flow before it entered the main tunnel, but the difficulties
associated with maintaining equipment in shafts mean that such measures have fallen into
disrepair and become ineffective. Where drainage systems are used it is important to make
provision for regular maintenance.

Simple collector drains manage water ingress but do not reduce it, and the prolonged
passage of water through the lining may result in its gradual deterioration and weakening.
An alternative solution is to try to reduce the permeability of the water-bearing strata
behind the lining by grout injection. Drainage holes can be drilled into the permeable
strata from the base of the treated area and pipes installed to channel the water into
garland drains or some other collector system that would have to be maintained. Grouting
to control water ingress is discussed further in Chapter 6.

196 Shaft lining stability

Prolonged water ingress through a shaft lining can weaken it and result in washout of
fines and void formation in the adjacent ground. This may result in a gradual loss of
interaction between the ground and the lining and reduced frictional shear support,
leading to shaft instability and increased loading on the tunnel lining at the shaft eye.
Where this is a concern, consideration should be given to a combination of grouting to fill
voids and reduce the permeability of the ground behind the lining and the installation of
alternative water pathways in the form of drainage holes through the lining (and into a
suitable collector system). Also, rock bolting or soil nailing techniques could be used to key
the lining into stable ground and improve ground/structure interaction. Relining

An alternative to piecemeal repair and like-for-like replacement is the provision of a new

shaft lining constructed within the existing shaft annulus. A method used in relining sewer
tunnels involves the installation of preformed glass reinforced plastic (GRP) or glass
reinforced cement (GRC) panels that are fixed within the shaft leaving a gap of around 50
mm between the preformed panel and the existing annulus. The annulus void is then
grouted up through injection points in the preformed panels to form a rigid composite
internal lining. Weep-holes can be included to relieve water pressure behind the new
lining. An example of this type of repair carried out on sewer tunnels described in Case
study A1.7.

Another method that could be considered is relining with sprayed concrete. Although
many shafts have too small a diameter to allow man-operated construction, it would be
possible to use a robotically controlled spray nozzle for this purpose. More information on
sprayed concrete linings is given in Section 5.4.8.

Relining will inevitably increase loads on the tunnel at the shaft eye unless more support
(as discussed in the previous section) is provided.

5.6.3 Filling

The decision to fill a redundant shaft should not be taken lightly, filling does reduce
dangers from falling debris and is likely to reduce maintenance requirements. However,
there are many potential disadvantages (NR, 2004b):

 shaft filling is an expensive operation regardless of the material used

 it could be assumed that maintenance will stop and the shaft, with its fill, will revert to
solid ground. Unfortunately this is not the case and, after filling, it will be impossible
to inspect or work within the shaft
 filling with any material, even polymeric foam, will increase the vertical loading of the
shaft lining on its supports because shear support between the lining and the fill is
often negligible
 filling an open shaft is likely to reduce ventilation in the tunnel, which may increase
the general level of dampness and increase the likelihood of build-up of gases
(although it may also reduce frost damage to the tunnel lining)
 open shafts are an important alternative method of access for emergency services and
equipment. They also provide emergency escape and evacuation routes. Filling open
shafts removes this valuable facility.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 197

Wherever possible a thorough structural inspection of the shaft should be carried out
before a decision to fill is made. Careful records should be kept and some structural
repairs should be considered, especially if the lining and the fill is to be supported above
an operational or disused but unfilled tunnel. It may be necessary to replace existing
beams, curbs or buntings with more durable materials, and to introduce extra,
intermediate support beams at stages down the shaft. The load bearing capacity at the
base of the shaft can be improved by incorporating steel or concrete beams before
plugging the bottom of the shaft.

There are two ways to support the infill: either on the shaft lining and base support or by
providing a column beneath the shaft, which stands on the tunnel floor. The latter method
can only be considered when passage through the tunnel is no longer required.

A variety of materials can be used to infill a shaft, including general granular fill, hardcore
and demolition waste, waste from industrial processes and a variety of cementitious and
chemical grouts. The selection of material depends on the circumstances applicable to the
individual shaft. These circumstances include the local bearing capacity of the shaft lining
or the base plug, whether the tunnel is still operational, the type of ground and the extent
of water ingress. Fill materials should be stable, inert, and normally locally available and
inexpensive, and should fulfil other technical requirements depending on the specific
application, eg grading, porosity and bulk density.

Build-up of water in the shaft should be avoided, and fill materials should be non-
absorbent. Water should be allowed to run through the infill or down the inside of the
shaft, to the bottom where it will pass into the tunnel via holes provided in the plug or
past the column. Where water flow is anticipated through the fill, measures should be
taken to prevent the washout of fines and loss of stability eg by collecting or diverting it, or
using open-graded large size granular material, which can drain freely.

Care should be taken to ensure complete filling without voids, depositing material down
the centre of the shaft and not at its edges. Where shafts are partly infilled below
obstructions such as old staging, the obstructions may be removed if accessible, or pea-
gravel may be used to flow into voids and further stabilised by grouting if necessary. The
volume of fill material used should be recorded and checked against the volume of the
shaft to check the adequacy of filling, and access should be provided below any capping to
allow regular measurements of the level of fill to reveal whether cavities may have formed.

The position of the shaft should be permanently marked inside the tunnel and at the
ground surface.

5.6.4 Grouting

Grouting is recommended to consolidate existing shaft filling where more stability is

required, or where voids are present. This may be achieved by drilling and casing a
central hole down through the fill to the shaft base, then grouting the hole in stages as the
case is withdrawn. Alternatively, a perforated injection pipe may be used inside the cased
hole, injecting using packers as the case is withdrawn. This allows the casing to be
withdrawn immediately on completion of the hole, increasing the productivity of the
drilling rig. Mixtures of cement with fly-ash, PFA or bentonite may be suitable as a grout

Figure 5.21
Grouted plug remedial measure
for deteriorating shaft lining
(Healey and Head, 1984)

Depending on the nature of the fill and the grout material used, shafts of up to 2.5 m
diameter can be treated from a single central hole using this technique. Larger diameter
shafts may require multiple holes and staged withdrawal of the casing to ensure complete
filling (Healy and Head, 1984).

Another option for injection into a shaft is the use of a chemical grout, such as
polyurethane. This tends to be an expensive system to use but if properly carried out can
give a very satisfactory result (NR, 2004b). The use of expansive grouts needs to be
carefully considered because these can exert considerable pressures when used in
confined areas. The operation requires careful specification and is best conducted by
experienced contractors.

5.6.5 Capping

Shaft capping at the surface has the advantage that the shaft (and any fill material) is
protected from the environment. The most common method of covering a shaft is the
construction of a prefabricated reinforced concrete cap to span the shaft void. The size of
the cap should sufficiently exceed the internal diameter of the shaft and be adequately
supported, preferably at or below rock-head if present. Where this is not possible, the cap
may be supported on competent ground with extra support measures, for example,
plugging, grouting (inside and outside the shaft lining) piling and diaphragm walling etc
depending on the situation.

Figure 5.22 Potential failure mechanism of a shaft cap located at rock head level (Healey and Head, 1984)

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 199

Where a cap is to be constructed at the base of a shaft, it should be designed to support
any shaft fill material and provisions for water drainage should be included.

Shaft caps should include access covers to help inspection of shaft condition or, where the
shaft is backfilled, to allow the surface level of the fill to be checked for signs of settlement.

Shafts may have been infilled with materials that decay to produce potentially hazardous
gases, particularly domestic or industrial refuse. Covers to such shafts can be sealed using
gypsum, cement or resin-based products to restrict the emission of gases to the
atmosphere and prevent their migration to and accumulation in confined areas. It may be
necessary to install vent pipes to prevent excessive gas build-up, and these may need to be
fitted with flame arrestors and where appropriate protected by lighting conductors.

The location of caps should be recorded and their central position permanently marked
on the ground surface and within the tunnel so that they can be easily found and
identified at a later date.

6 Water ingress and control


Bauer (1985) stated that:

“Probably the most important factor which governs the success or failure of a (new)
tunnel project is the proper control of groundwater.”

This statement is probably valid in the long-term operational maintenance and use of
existing tunnels as well.

The majority of tunnels are constructed deep below ground surface, often below the
groundwater table and/or below rivers or other bodies of water. Water permeation is
widespread and potentially serious problems can arise if left unchecked. Water ingress is a
key factor in most mechanisms that result in gradual deterioration of a tunnel’s structural
fabric but can equally affect the ancillary structures and services contained within the
tunnel. Also for pedestrian tunnels, dripping water, slippery surfaces and high humidity
levels can be a problem. So minimising and controlling water inflow is usually a significant
concern to tunnel owners. The maintenance of tunnel drainage systems and other
preventative measures are just part of the overall strategy to be considered when dealing
with the control of groundwater. This section gives advice on the wider problems of
dealing with water ingress and considers some of the measures that can be done to
minimise and control it.

Water ingress can occur in all types of tunnel construction even those designed to be
watertight. Tunnels built below the groundwater table and lined with segmental linings of
concrete or cast iron were usually designed with gaskets and seals to prevent water ingress
through joints. Some tunnels may have been constructed with a waterproof membrane
either external or internal to the primary lining at key points on the structure. However,
post-construction tunnel movements from effects such as settlement, redistribution of
ground stresses, tidal effects and vibration can lead to opening of joints, and cracking or
rupture of waterproof membranes. Other effects including poor workmanship during
construction and shrinkage of annular grout can also lead to water ingress. In masonry-
lined tunnels water seepage often occurs slowly over large areas through permeable
mortar or fine cracks at masonry/mortar interfaces, but can eventually lead to local
washout of mortar through the full lining thickness, the resulting holes allowing much
more rapid flow.

In lined tunnels groundwater can enter by one or more of the following paths:

 through the construction joints and interfaces in the lining structure

 through cracks that have formed in the lining structure
 through permeable areas of the lining materials
 service entry or exit points, cable ducts etc.

Wet patches on a tunnel lining are not always the result of water ingress. Considerable
surface condensation can occur at cold spots on the lining that, for example, can be caused
by some environmental anomaly, particularly in cast iron tunnels where humidity is high.

CIRIA C671 • Tunnels 2009 201

Numerous measures to minimise and/or control water ingress are available but the
method chosen in any one instance will depend on the extent and rate of seepage present
or water inflow. Localised treatment may be acceptable where a single leak occurs.
However, where water ingress is extensive and over large areas, options may lead to
extensive grouting or complete relining or provision of a secondary drained liner at the

There are effectively four distinct sources of water ingress:

1 Groundwater.
2 Surface (rain) water.
3 Water from underground water mains.
4 Sewage or waste water.

Although frequently inconclusive, attempts should be made to identify the source of the
water ingress before carrying out remedial measures, as this may influence the most
appropriate response. Where ingress arising from leaking or burst water mains, sewage or
waste water can be positively identified it may be possible for the utility owner to stop it at
source and avoid carrying out remedial measures in or around the tunnel. Sampling and
analysis of the water entering a tunnel may also identify contaminants that might be
hazardous to the health and safety of maintenance opera