First Published: 2008-09-29

Doubts cast over Spain-Morocco undersea tunnel plan

New geological study reveals two clay sections under sea would make it difficult to build tunnel.


Middle East Online

Further tests would add an extra billion dollars to the projectís cost

MADRID - A new geological study has cast doubt on the feasibility of a project to build an undersea rail tunnel across the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco, a Spanish news report said Sunday.

Two clay sections under the sea would make it difficult to build the tunnel, the El Pais newspaper said, quoting a study recently presented to the Spanish public company SECEG, which is in charge of the project along with Morocco's SNED.

"It is not clear whether it will be possible," SECEG president Angel Aparicio said.

An engineer working on the project, Andrea Panciera, also said there were "huge uncertainties" and proposed building an exploratory tunnel from the Moroccan side up to the clay sections in order to carry out tests, El Pais quoted him as saying.

But such an option would add an extra billion dollars to the cost of the project, which is currently budgeted at five billion dollars (3.4 billion euros), and delay the start of construction by about eight years, it said.

"It is practically impossible to find an alternative solution," the paper said.

Rabat and Madrid commissioned a new study on the project in 2006, after a first plan was abandoned in the 1990s.

The mooted tunnel would be 38.7 kilometres long with 28 kilometres running some 400 metres (1,200 feet) under sea level.


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