About the conference

Dear colleagues of the tunnelling community,

With the growth in global urbanisation and the need to find underground solutions to meet the needs of the world’s rising population, tunnels are becoming an increasingly important part of the transport infrastructure network. At the same time, stakeholders are faced with growing challenges in terms of operation and safety, including cost-efficiency and sustainability.

PIARC’s Technical Committee on Road Tunnel Operations is acknowledged worldwide as a reference body on issues related to tunnel operation and safety, with almost 140 active members. In recent years, it has published numerous technical reports and developed an on-line manual, providing valuable reference material to tunnelling professionals.

In order to promote the latest knowledge on current key issues and to facilitate technical discussions and debate amongst industry stakeholders, PIARC and its French National Committee decided to organise their first “International Conference on Road Tunnel Operations and Safety”. This event was organised with the support of the European Commission, ITA COSUF, the French Centre for Tunnel Studies and the French-speaking Working Group of Road Tunnel Operators. It was aimed at tunnel owners, operators, rescue services, designers, tunnel safety officers, equipment suppliers and installers.

The conference took place at the Lyon Convention Centre from 3rd to 5th October 2018 and brought together over 300 participants from more than 40 countries. The speakers, who came from around the globe, were all renowned specialists in their respective fields.

The following topics were notably presented:

 - Safety management tools and systems,

 - Sustainable development: societal, environmental and economic issues

 - Safe operation of road tunnels,

 - Safety systems and equipment,

 - Issues related to the development of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and new propulsion technologies,

 - Technical equipment – current practices and perspectives.

An exhibition took place in parallel in the heart of the conference area and enabled over 30 equipment suppliers, installers and engineering consultants to showcase their expertise.

The event rounded off with a warm welcome from the operators of iconic tunnels located in Lyon and the Auvergne Rhône Alpes region (Croix Rousse, Lyon-Balbigny motorway, Mont Blanc and Fréjus), within the scope of the organised technical tours.

Throughout these 3 days, the participants expressed their great satisfaction with regard to the exchanges and the quality of the organisation of this international event.

AIPCR Président

Claude Van Rooten

PIARC President

CF-AIPCR Président

André Broto

PIARC French National Commitee Chairman

Technical session topics

Safety management tools

Since the 2000s, numerous tunnel refurbishments have been conducted at an international level, the primary aim of which has been to improve user safety, whilst also focusing on the organisation of tunnel operations. This first technical session presented the headway made in this area, notably in terms of safety management tools and systems.

Sustainable operation

Current practices in terms of sustainable infrastructure management vary greatly from one country to another. Certain countries have established legislation or have fixed objectives, whilst others have no regulations at all. PIARC has recently published a report on the current status of sustainable tunnel operations in various countries. This second session provided an overview of the various practices.

Safety systems and equipment

A wide variety of systems and equipment have been implemented over recent years within the scope of refurbishment works (centralised technical management, ventilation systems, fixed fire-fighting systems, way-finding equipment, communication systems,…). The tunnelling community has made considerable progress in these areas, in terms of design, operation and maintenance optimisation. This third technical session focused on these issues.

Future safety challenges

New technologies, such as LEDs, alternative vehicle propulsion systems and information and communication technologies have emerged over recent years. Many are of interest to the underground infrastructure community and it is essential that their development within road tunnels takes into account the specific nature of this infrastructure. Three expert views on these issues were presented.


  • Over 300 participants
  • An internationally recognised platform enabling exchanges with a broad spectrum of industry stakeholders
  • Presence of representatives from government road directorates and the European Commission
  • High profile speakers who are top-level experts in their field
  • A chance to keep up to date with the latest best practices and PIARC recommendations
  • Lively round table discussions and debates on current key issues related to tunnel operation and safety
  • A two-day exhibition showcasing the latest industry products and services
  • Plenty of time to network over refreshment breaks, luncheons and an evening cocktail
  • On-site visits


Specifically designed for stakeholders involved in operational and safety aspects of tunnelling, this conference brought together:

  • Tunnel owners, designers and operators
  • Government and local authority representatives
  • Fire and rescue services
  • Tunnel Safety Officers
  • System providers
  • Equipment manufacturers, suppliers and installers
  • Consultants and solution providers