World’s first ship tunnel to be built through Norwegian peninsula

The Norwegian Coastal Administration have confirmed plans to build a ship tunnel through the Stad peninsula. The tunnel – the first of its kind – would allow ships to avoid danger and delay in these waters, which are frequently battered with harsh weather.

The Stad peninsula in Sogn og Fjordane county, Norway, is a dividing point between the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea. It is among the most exposed areas on the coast, having no outlying islands to shield it from harsh, windy weather. Ships are often forced to wait for storms to pass.

According to transportation minister, Ketil Solvik-Olsen, the currents and underwater topography in this area result in “particularly complex wave conditions”. This has provoked debate about what infrastructure could help ease transportation around the peninsula.

The first proposal for a ship tunnel dates back as far as 1974, with an article in a Norwegian newspaper, Nordre Bergenhus Amtstidende. Earlier plans included building a railway tunnel across the peninsula. Boats would be raised onto wagons and carried safely across.

After many years of discussion, plans and funds for the Stad ship tunnel (or Stad skipstunnel) are in place. It will burrow through the narrowest point of the peninsula, at 1.7km long, 36m wide and 49m tall. The tunnel would accommodate cruise and freight ships up to 16,000 tonnes. It is expected to cost at least DKK2.7 billion (£252 million).

Construction could begin as early as 2019 and is planned to begin operating in 2023. According to project manager Terje Andreassen, engineers will blast out eight million tonnes of rock to make way for the tunnel.

Norwegian Coastal Administration

It is hoped that the tunnel will reduce travel time between towns and cities in this area.

Under current plans, passenger traffic will be given priority, with slot times assigned to avoid congestion. It will be free for smaller vessels (less than 70m long) while larger ships will have to be led.

“We are pleased that the ship tunnel now becomes a reality,” Solvik-Olsen commented.

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