The overall risk objective of the Fehmarnbelt tunnel is that it must be at least as safe to drive through the tunnel as it is driving on a highway in an open countryside. The tunnel has therefore been designed and has been given the status of an ordinary highway. As with all means of transport there is a risk of traffic accidents involved, but there is however some good news concerning this topic, which is that accidents in the tunnel will happen less frequent and has fewer consequences than on a normal motorway.
The first thing that you may think of when I mention accidents in a tunnel would most likely be fire. However, when speaking of statistics the possibility of fires in tunnels is very low. During the last seventy years less than 150 persons have been killed at fires in road tunnels. This includes a fire in the Mont Blanc Tunnel in 1999 where 39 people died. A significant part of the 150 persons were however killed by the traffic accident that sparked the fire, and not as a result of the fire itself.
Given the large number of vehicles worldwide daily running through tunnels, there is thus an exceedingly small risk of death from fire.
The Tunnel team has designed a range of Accident Prevention measures in order to prevent serious accidents:
• The tunnel is one-way traffic – no possibility of frontal collisions
• Each tube is equipped with an emergency lane
• Comprehensive and up-to-date monitoring, control and communications systems provide quick and accurate information about any incidents
• Constantly manned control center
• Traffic Control System, preventing congestion
• Variable road signs with the opportunity to give information to drivers
• Varying lighting of the tunnel to prevent driver fatigue
• Active marking lights along the roadway
• Maintenance activities can mainly take place outside the traffic area
In the rare case that a rescue efforts is required several measures have been taken into account such as:
•Fire hydrants located every 50 m in all tunnels
• Automatic fire extinguishing system (sprinkler) in the tunnel tubes
• Detailed plan for fire and rescue efforts by various accident scenarios
The risk of being involved in serious accidents in the Fehmarnbelt tunnel will be lower than on an ordinary highway stretch of the same length. This is due to the extensive passive and active safety measures contained in the design.
Should a serious accident occur anyway, the police and fire and rescue personnel have very good opportunities to provide an effective response.