How you as an engineer a site runs under the ground


Hoe je als ingenieur een werf runt onder de grond

“The emotional distance between hierarchy and employees falls away under the ground.” (Derrick Naets, project manager tunneltechnologie to Infrabel in Brussels)

Encouraged you recently take the train to the airport of Zaventem or drove your car through the Leopold II tunnel in Brussels? Then you may not realize how this underground infrastructure was established, or how the administrator, she maintains. Two engineers come literally out of the ground and do their story.

Karel Deprez is a structural engineer at Besix in Brussels. He works invariably to gigantic infrastructure projects: “landmark” in the landscape of a city. Currently takes Charles along with his colleagues the much needed renovation of the Brussels ‘ Leopold-II tunnel. “The shafts reaching up to 23 metres deep under the ground,” he says.

“We’re diving with the tunnel, two subway lines and the canal Brussels-Charleroi.” Also Derrick Naets goes so deep down. He is a project leader tunneltechnologie to Infrabel in Brussels. “We are not falling off the lift, we’ll take the stairs. Good for the condition”, quips he.


The jokes are omitted when Derrick expert talks about the technical challenges in underground projects. “A high and constant level of security guarantee is the most difficult task,” he explains. “Both during the work itself and in the subsequent operation of the tunnel. In addition, travelers should the infrastructure can continue to use while there, for example, maintenance work to take place. You can’t just have the train slow down.”

Also in the renovation of the Leopold II-tunnel, continue to the vehicles it drive. “That brings a complex phasing of the work, Karel Deprez. “All the works in the tunnel need to be ’during the night and the zomerverlof happen. Moreover, it is a logistical challenge to get all equipment on site to get and install.”

Your colleague is your friend

When colleagues during a long-term underground project work, they depend on each other. They rely on each other. “We are real ploegspelers”, bears witness to Karel Deprez. “Communication is crucial. Information we share in the Dutch, French and English, because workers and toezichters come from different countries.”

Derrick Naets adds: “The atmosphere is very collegial, almost friendly, if you are under the ground works. The emotional distance between hierarchy and employees. We deal assertively and constructively with each other. Thanks to an interpreter if that is even in multiple languages.”

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