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Development of a best practice methodology for risk assessment in roadway tunnels (ASTRA2009/001)

Switzerland Flag
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Infrastructure (INF)
Transport mode
Road icon
Transport policies
Transport sectors
Passenger transport,
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

According to the directive 2004/54/EC of the European Parliament, all member states should have detailed and clearly defined methods for risk analysis in road tunnels at the national level. 


The main objective of this research project is the development of a best practice method for road tunnel risk assessment under normal traffic situations. The method represents the current state of the art in the field of risk based decision making and in the field of traffic engineering, especially in the field of modelling of traffic accident frequencies and the consequences of accidents in road tunnels. The method is generally applicable to all road tunnels but it specifically takes into account the needs, regulatory requirements and tunnel layouts, which have been identified to be relevant for Switzerland and Norway. The method is easy to apply and supports typical life safety-related decisions during the planning, operation and maintenance of road tunnels.


Basics for the project provide the studies provided in last time period and the expertise of the research team in the field of probabilistic modelling and tunnels risk analysis. In addition, data from the Norwegian and Swiss road administrations are  available that are considered in the development of the risk model.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Swiss Government: State Secretariat for Education and Research
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


Tunnels constitute nowadays an important component of an efficient infrastructure. Whereas the purpose of tunnels is to facilitate reliable transport in respect of urban and natural environment, the tunnel safety remains an issue of major concern. Consequently the topic of tunnel safety constitutes an important decision criterion for the planning of new tunnels as well for the management of the operation tunnels. When striving for safety in road tunnels, there is a need for a rational and consistent basis for decision making concerning safety and methods and tools which facilitate that life safety risk can be assessed, documented and communicated transparently. In the last decades, a significant development has taken place in the area of systematic risk assessment. New formulations have been developed and standardized by e.g. the Joint Committee on Structural Safety (JCSS). Modern risk assessment provides a consistent basis for supporting decisions on tunnel risk management. On this basis, it is possible to improve the understanding on which factors are dominating the risks and by which measures the risks may be efficiently reduced; this concerns both technical and organizational measures. The safety of the tunnels in Europe was increasingly questioned in the late part of the 1990 on the background of the fatal tunnel catastrophes in among others the Channel Tunnel (1996), Mont Blanc Tunnel (1996), Tauern Tunnel (1999), Gleinalm Tunnel (2001) and Gotthard Tunnel (2001). These major accidents resulted in more than 70 fatalities and 120 serious injured and gave a signal within EU to initiate a number of common projects in order to survey the shortcomings and problem and upgrade existing tunnels in Europe. The projects were initiated in the period 1996-2003 and were concluded 2002-2007; also Norway and Switzerland participated actively in these projects (see an overview in Appel et al. (2009) and ERS2: OECD/ PIARC, DARTS, FIT, UPTUN. Virtual Fires, Safetunnel, Sirtaki, Safe-T etc.) On the background of the public concern and the results of the research projects, the EU issued the Directive 2004/54/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on Minimum Safety Requirements for Tunnels in the Trans-European Road Network (European Parliament (2004)). Among a number of prescriptive minimum requirements, the directive also specifies risk analysis in order to validate and substantiate the tunnel design. These requirements are in line with the efforts in leading public and industrial organizations to

Innovation aspects

Clearly defined methods for risk analysis in road tunnels in Switzerland.

Policy implications

Fulfillment of the EU directive 2004/54/EC of the European Parliament.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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