Eysturoyartunnilin

The Eysturoyartunnilin (in English the Eysturoy Tunnel, earlier known as the Skálafjarðartunnilin) is a large undersea road tunnel under the Tangafjørður sound in the Faroe Islands, connecting the island of Streymoy to the island of Eysturoy. It also crosses the southern part of Skálafjørður, and connects the towns of Runavík on the eastern side and Strendur on the western side of the fjord, and includes the world's first undersea roundabout in the middle of the network.

Eysturoyartunnilin
Eysturoyartunnilin.jpg
Construction site at Hvítanes, 2017, overlooking the Tangafjørður strait under which the tunnel is situated.
Overview
LocationSkálafjørður and Tórshavn, Faroe Islands
StatusIn operation
Operation
Work begun2016
Opened19 December 2020
OwnerThe Faroese Government
OperatorP/F Eystur- og Sandoyartunlar
TrafficAutomotive
TollYes
Vehicles per dayca. 4,500 (July 2021)[1]
Technical
Length11,238 m (36,870 ft)
No. of lanes2
Operating speed80 km/h (50 mph)
Highest elevation21.6 m (70 ft 10 in)
Lowest elevation−189.0 m (−620 ft 1 in)
Width10.5 m
Grade5.0 % (max.)

It is the largest ever infrastructure project in the Faroe Islands.[2] Altogether, the three-branch sub-sea tunnel measures 11.24 km (6.98 mi) long, including the roundabout. Construction costs are estimated to be around a billion DKK.[7] The roundabout features artwork, including large sculptures and light effects.[3] The tunnel opened for traffic on 19 December 2020.[4][3]

HistoryEdit

The idea for the Eysturoyartunnilin emerged during the construction of the Vágatunnilin and Norðoyatunnilin, opened in 2002 and 2006 respectively, which heralded a new look on domestic transport and regional development. In 2006, the private company P/F Skálafjarðartunnilin was founded to build this tunnel.[5] Due to the financial crisis, it took the stakeholders several years to materialize the plans and get political support.[6] The tunnel was included in the 2012 national mobility plan, which abandoned the name Skálafjarðartunnilin and thereafter exclusively named it Eysturoyartunnilin.[7] In June 2013, another private company, P/F Eysturoyartunnilin, was established in order to pursue a deal between the Faroese national government, the Faroese insurance company LÍV and the Danish-owned Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners (CIP). CIP made secret arrangements with the Faroese minister for transport, Kári P. Højgaard, who had to resign in early September as this came out. This led to a small political crisis. In 2015, after the outcomes of an official inquiry, the cabinet of Kaj Leo Johannesen had to call for early elections.[8][9] Both P/F Skálafjarðartunnilin and P/F Eysturoyartunnilin were liquidated in 2015, after circa two years of inactivity.[10][11] Meanwhile, in the aftermath of the political crisis of 2013, a special commission drafted a proposal for a public rather than private solution.[12] This proposal was supported by all parties and led in 2014 to the establishment of a public company, P/F Eystur- og Sandoyartunlar (in short 'EStunlar' or EST).[13][14] This company, owned entirely by the Ministry of Transport, builds, owns and manages both the Eysturoyartunnil and the Sandoyartunnil. NCC was contracted to carry out the construction works for both tunnels.

The financial coupling (cross subsidization) between the two tunnels is necessary since the Sandoyartunnilin is not expected to generate sufficient ridership to recover its own investment via its own tolls alone, while the Eysturoyartunnilin is expected to have surplus capacity. As a result, the tolls for the Eysturoyartunnilin will not decrease as traffic numbers increase (price inelasticity). Only when the construction investments for both tunnels has been sufficiently been earned back, tolls could sink. This differs from the Vága- and Norðoyatunnilin where tolls dropped gradually with time. Another difference is that the Eysturoyartunnilin does not replace a ferry route, so tolls cannot be compared to ferry ticket prices.[15][16]

Further readingEdit

ConstructionEdit

On 8 November 2016, a deal was struck with the Scandinavian construction company NCC to construct the Eysturoy tunnel as well as the Sandoy tunnel. The contract for both tunnels is for 2,073 million DKK, whilst the overall cost for both tunnels is estimated at around 2,600 million DKK.[17]

The drilling of the tunnel itself started on 21 February from the Strendur side and on 27 April 2017 from the Hvítanes side. The Strendur team reached the underwater roundabout section on 4 December 2017,[18] at which point 3,059 metres had been dug from both sides combined. With the first leg and roundabout completed, a third drilling team started, with two teams on the Hvítanes-roundabout leg working towards each other (which met underwater on 7 June 2019) and one from the roundabout to Saltnes. The last blast was shot on 7 June 2019, after which a number of months was used for tarmacking, cabling, installing emergency facilities and signposting. Meanwhile, NCC moved the drillsets to the Sandoyartunnilin, which started on 27 June 2019.

While the expected opening date was 1 December 2020, due to technical delays and COVID-19 this was postponed to 19 December 2020.[19]

SpecificationsEdit

 
Depth diagram of the Eysturoyartunnilin.

The tunnel is a two-laned undersea tunnel that has three tubes which meet at an underwater roundabout, 72.6 metres below the surface of the Skálafjørður fjord. The tunnel is 2,153 metres long from the entrance at Rókini in Saltnes to the roundabout, and the distance from Sjógv at Strendur to the roundabout is 1,625 metres. The main branch from Tórshavn to the roundabout measures 7,460 metres and resurfaces by the village of Hvítanes.[20] This results in an overall road length of 11.238 kilometres,[17] making it currently the 2nd-longest sub-sea road tunnel in the world, surpassed only by the Ryfast tunnel at Stavanger in Norway. The roundabout is the world's first sub-sea roundabout.[21]

In order to increase safety, no incline in the tunnel is steeper than five per cent, and the lowest point is 189 metres (620 ft) below the water's surface.[22][3]

Art in the tunnelEdit

The roundabout is fitted with metal artwork by the Faroese artist Tróndur Patursson, as well as lighting effects.[3] The artwork is an 80-metre (260 ft) piece which he custom-made for the tunnel, featuring a combination of human silhouettes and light effects. The metal plates will be allowed to oxidise and change colour. The Norðoyatunnilin, which opened in 2006, also includes some of Patursson's light art.[23][24] Each tunnel portal features a sequence of freestanding concrete and lit arches, as landmarks.

The openingEdit

The opening of the tunnel for general traffic was on 19 December 2020, which was 18 years and 9 days after the opening of the first subsea tunnel in the Faroe Islands, the Vágatunnilin connecting Tórshavn with Vágar Airport. For the Eysturoyartunnilin there was a ceremony with speeches and music before the tunnel opened, which was broadcast live by the Faroese Television KVF.[25] Emergency response vehicles had been allowed to use the tunnel a few months before opening.[26]

ImpactEdit

When the tunnel opened in December 2020, it significantly reduced travel times to the capital. The tunnel shortened the travel distance from Tórshavn to Runavík/Strendur from 55 kilometres (34 miles) to 17 kilometres (11 miles). The 64-minute drive is cut down to 16 minutes. The drive from Tórshavn to Klaksvík was reduced from 68 minutes to 36 minutes.[20] Similar to the impacts of the two existing sub-sea tunnels, an intensification of traffic, interaction and regional integration is expected to result from the increased accessibility, on both the local, regional and national scale.[27] On the Eysturoy side of the tunnel house prices increased by 31% between 2019 and 2020 and have doubled between 2015 and 2020.[28][29]

Strandfaraskip Landsins changed its bus route network in response to the tunnel's opening,[30] but was pressed by the public along the route to restore the old network after a few months.[31] This means that the trunk route 400 connecting Klaksvík to Tórshavn remains taking the old, 30 minute longer route via Sundalagið. A rush hour express service (route 401) between Klaksvík and Tórshavn was inserted that uses the Eysturoyartunnilin, as well as a much more frequent 'Tunnel route' (route 450) between Tórshavn, Strendur and Toftir/Runavík, whence route 440 connects to villages along the Skálafjørður fjord. This means that passengers between Tórshavn and Klaksvík can opt for either a transfer-free longer route (route 400), or save circa 30 minutes by taking either the express route (rush hours on working days) or a double-transfer trip (routes 450 Tórshavn-Runavík, 440 Runavík-Søldarfjørður and 400 Søldarfjørður-Klaksvík).[32]

The national government and Runavik municipality agreed on the construction of a bypass between the tunnel mouth and the town limits of Glyvrar, in order to alleviate the increasing traffic through the town streets once the tunnel has opened. This road, named Fjøruvegurin (foreshore road), is going to be built on the shoreline.[33] The budget for a new express way between Hvítanes and Tórshavn, Innkomuvegurin, was agreed on by the national government and Tórshavn Municipality in June 2021. The road will include a short tunnel and is to be ready in 2025.[34][35][36]

Tolls and traffic numbersEdit

In December 2020 the toll prices were announced by the agency Tunnil. For cars with a toll registration (hald), the initials tolls (10 January 2021) on the section Streymoy-Eysturoy ranged from 175 DKK for a small car (up to 3,500 kilograms (7,700 lb)) and 150 DKK for vans to 400 DKK for lorries and 1250 DKK for large buses (19 seats or more).[37] For local traffic between Saltnes and Strendur, the fees were 25, 50, 100 and 750 DKK, respectively. Tolls are levied for travel in both directions, unlike the Vágatunnilin and Norðoyatunnilin, which charge tolls only one way. Tunnil claims that the saved travel time, fuel and wear compensates for the increased travel costs on the main routes between Tórshavn, Southern Eysturoy and the Northern Isles.[38] The financial compensation for commuters (ferðastuðul) was extended to include a compensation of 8.45 DKK per leg for the Eysturoyartunnilin tolls.[39]

The projected traffic numbers were 6,000 for 2022,[40] of which 5,100 between Eysturoy and Streymoy and 900 between both sides of the Skálafjørður. The tunnel would generate 3,600 new daily crossings. However, apart from the opening day (14,700 vehicles in twelve hours[41]) and the toll-free introduction month that ended on 10 January 2021 (average daily ridership 7,500 vehicles),[42] traffic numbers dropped steeply. The first week (which included night-time closures for maintenance) saw 3,151 vehicles per day, the second week 3,647 vehicles per day and the third week 3,764 vehicles per day. In July the ridership was 4,500 vehicles.[43] These numbers include all directions on both Streymoy-Eysturoy and Saltnes-Strendur itineraries.

All in all, the lower-than-expected ridership raises questions about the financial outlook for both the Eysturoyar- and Sandoyartunnilin. Public pressure is mounting to reduce the fees in order to raise ridership. Opponents of the high tolls claim to prefer the old, longer route. Along this route through the Sundalagið, a traffic count in the Norðskálatunnilin suggests circa 900 cars remain using the old route.[44]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Miðalferðsla pr. Dag".
  2. ^ "The project". Eystur- og Sandoyartunlar. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d "Faroe Islands: Inside the undersea tunnel network". BBC News. 4 December 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  4. ^ Tórshavn-Eysturoy tunnel to open before Christmas
  5. ^ "Document on a reply from Rúni B. Róin and Jan Jakobsen on written questions from Elsebeth M. Gunnleygsdóttir" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  6. ^ "Timeline of the Eysturoyartunni as of June 2013". Innlendismálaráðið. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  7. ^ "Samferðsluætlan 2012-2024 - Føroyar Sum Ein Býur". Innlendismálaráðið. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  8. ^ From, Lars (23 August 2015). "En tunnel, der kom på tværs" (in Danish). Jylllands-Posten. Retrieved 19 November 2016.
  9. ^ Rigsombudsmanden på Færøerne (13 August 2015). "Indberetning nr. 4/2015" (PDF) (in Danish). Rigsombudsmanden. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  10. ^ "P/F Skálafjarðartunnilin liquidated". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  11. ^ "P/F Eysturoyartunnilin liquidated". 8 August 2015. Retrieved 2016-11-19.
  12. ^ "uppskot til logtingslog um stovnan av partafelagi at reka undirsjovartunlar". 13 December 2013. Retrieved 2016-11-19.[permanent dead link]
  13. ^ "P/F Eystur- og Sandoyartunlar erected". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  14. ^ "Law on the Eysturoy- and Sandoyartunlar". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  15. ^ "THE PROJECT". Eystur- og Sandoyatunlar. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  16. ^ "Hokwerda R, Tunnel Visionary, 2017-09-30.pdf".
  17. ^ a b "Sáttmáli undirskrivaður um bygging av... - P/F Eystur- og Sandoyartunlar | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  18. ^ "Framgongd við boring". Eystur- og Sandoyatunlar (in Faroese). Retrieved 2018-11-10.
  19. ^ "Eysturoyartunnilin letur møguliga ikki upp fyrr enn tíðliga í 2021". dagur.fo (in Faroese). Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  20. ^ a b "The Eysturoy tunnel". Eystur- og Sandoyatunlar. Retrieved 2016-11-17.
  21. ^ "Take a look at the Atlantic's first underwater roundabout!". BBC Newsround. 8 December 2020. Retrieved 4 January 2021.
  22. ^ "Eysturoyartunnilin gongur skjótt". Ministry of Transport. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  23. ^ Nielsdóttir, Alda (1 December 2020). "Roundabout in undersea Eysturoy Tunnel to be lit up by huge Tróndur Patursson art piece". local.fo. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  24. ^ Nielsdóttir, Alda (20 December 2020). "Toll free until 10 January". in.fo. Dagur. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  25. ^ Johannesen, Johnsigurd (19 December 2020). "KvF sendir úr Eysturoyartunlinum í morgin". kvf.fo. Kringvarp Føroya. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  26. ^ "Neyðsynjarakfør gjøgnum Eysturoyartunnilin". Kringvarp Føroya (in Faroese). Retrieved 2020-09-14.
  27. ^ "Hokwerda R, Tunnel Visionary, 2017-09-30.pdf".
  28. ^ Hammershaimb Christiansen, Ása (16 January 2020). ""Tunnel effect" boosts house prices in Runavík". Kringvarp Føroya (in Faroese).
  29. ^ "Eysturoyartunnilin gevur hægri sethúsaprísir og størri bústaðarbyrðu". Betri. Retrieved 2020-09-11.
  30. ^ "Vit eru klár til tunnilin". ssl.fo. Strandfaraskip Landsins. 18 December 2020. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  31. ^ "Bygdaleiðir - ferðaætlan til hoyringar". Nes Kommuna (in Danish). 2021-03-03. Retrieved 2021-08-09.
  32. ^ "Ferðaætlan". SSL. Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  33. ^ Avtala um Fjøruvegin
  34. ^ "Innkomuvegurin". landsverk.fo. Landsverk. Retrieved 19 December 2020.
  35. ^ "Biðja landsstýrið skunda sær". Kringvarp Føroya (in Faroese). Retrieved 2020-12-19.
  36. ^ "Her er avtalan um innkomuvegin til Havnar". www.in.fo (in Faroese). Retrieved 2021-08-09.
  37. ^ "Prísir". Tunnil. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  38. ^ "Roknari". Tunnil. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  39. ^ "Ferðastuðul". Taks. Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  40. ^ "Samferðsluætlanin 2018-2030". Landsverk (in Faroese). 2018. p. 87. Retrieved 2021-08-22.
  41. ^ Lindenskov, Eirikur (20 December 2020). "14.700 bilar koyrdu í tunlinum í gjár". in.fo. Sosialurin. Retrieved 20 December 2020.
  42. ^ "Tunnilstøl: 2500 bilar mangla framvegis". Kringvarp Føroya (in Faroese). Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  43. ^ "Miðalferðsla pr. Dag".
  44. ^ "900-bilar-bruka-framvegis-nordskalatunnilin". Kringvarp Føroya (in Faroese). Retrieved 2021-02-15.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 62°04′25″N 6°46′36″W / 62.0736°N 6.7768°W / 62.0736; -6.7768