Lotschberg Base Tunnel Project

Lotschberg Base Tunnel
Lotschberg Base Tunnel

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Lotschberg Base Tunnel Project


Project management is an exercise that requires proper handling. This is because if weaknesses occur in the process of project management, a project may fail to be completed successfully. Project managers are supposed to ensure that all success measures are fulfilled. One of the success measures that stand out is proper risk management. A project that gets completed with low level of risk incidents is deemed to be successful.

This calls for the need to have proper risk management during implementation of projects. Another success measure for projects is use of suitable tools and technology. Projects are known to use tools and technology to carry out the different processes towards completion. This means that proper selection and application of tools and technology is necessary.

This essay is focusing on Lotschberg Base Tunnel project that was successful. The risks that were identified are well explained together with the management that was done. This is done properly through identification of specific risks and approaches that were used to mitigate them.

The essay goes further and gives details of the tools and techniques that were used in the implementation of Lotschberg Base Tunnel project. The suitability of each tool and technique is also explained fully. To sum it up, conclusion is drawn for the matters arising from the essay.

The project

The Lotschberg Base Tunnel project was constructed in Switzerland. The project resulted into a 34.57 km long tunnel. The Alps accommodates this mega tunnel. This project was initiated in the year 2005 and continued until 2007.

The purpose of the project

All projects are supposed to have clear goals. The project goals determine the suitable approach to use. The purpose of the Lotschberg Base Tunnel was to provide transport solution to the area of location. This tunnel was aimed at enabling growth of railway transport.

Management of risks and uncertainties

It is common knowledge that projects are full of risks and uncertainties. Some of the risks are so dreadful that they threaten the progress of a project. In cases where the project is complex, the probability of having numerous risks goes high unlike the case of simple projects, thus the need to have a working approach (Kwan 2011, p. 91).

The management of risks for Lotschberg Base Tunnel project was done through proper planning. This commenced through with definition of the strategy likely to spearhead risk management efforts. The risk strategy advocated that there should be a team mandated with risk management. In risk management for projects, it is advisable to have a reliable risk management wing (Sullivan 2001, p. 35). Additionally, the strategy for risk management during this project defined clearly the process of managing risk. The phases defined included;

  1. Risk identification
  2. Risk overview
  3. Examination of risk
  4. Mitigation of risk

After defining the risk management approach above, it was easy to manage the identified risks for the project. The risks identified for during implementation of Lotschberg Base Tunnel project were handled as below;

  1. Complexity risk

Upon identifying the risk identification approach, this is one of the noted risks. This project was a complex one thus attracting risk associated with projects of that size. This risk was associated with the probability of failing o meet the various aspects of the project. To manage this risk successfully, the risk management function started by coming up with a strategy to identify all aspects of the project.

This gave the project managers an insight into the big picture of the project. With this done, a risk management plan was created. The risk management plan for Lotschberg Base Tunnel project ensured that all parts of the project were well factored in all activities. Additionally, managing the complexity risk for this project involved identifying and clarifying the small bit of tasks that had to be handled.

This came as a way of simplifying the complex processes and activities for Lotschberg Base Tunnel project. Having created clarity of the internal tasks, it became easy for each of the risk management team members to understand their responsibility in the project without confusion related to high level of complexity of this project.

  1. Finance risk-cost funds

Mega projects are known consumers of large amounts of money. To implement complex projects, it requires proper planning on matters of financing (Didraga 2012, p. 89). According to Strazewski, L 2009, p. 82), finance risk should be handled as a priority risk. This is because poor finance risk planning leads to inadequate funds thus affecting the progress of a project. During the implementation of Lotschberg Base Tunnel project, risk related to finances was identified.

This risk was broken down into two categories. One of these categories was source of funds while the other risk category was about financial cost. Regarding the risk about sources of financing, proper planning was done to ensure that there would be no financial drought during the progress of this project. This ensured that all requirements were financed for when needed.

On the other hand, the cost risk was about the level that would be used to completion of Lotschberg Base Tunnel project . To manage this risk, the project managers ensured that aspects that would lead to increased risk were handled well. Firstly, proper stock management was carried out. This enabled the project to adhere to good practices on stock management such as equilibrium order quantity. Additionally, the project risk function ensured that the assumptions regarding finance risk were realistic. This is because each risk has to be managed through the assistance of assumptions.

  1. Communication risk

In implementation of a project, there has to be proper communication system. This means that absence of proper communication leads to unsuccessful flow of project activities. According to Jafari et al. (2011, p. 16), lack of proper project communication sometimes leads to stalled or abandoned projects. As the identification of risks for Lotschberg Base Tunnel project was taking place, communication risk was identified.

There was fear that lack of proper communication could affect this project. To handle this risk, the risk management function for this project ensured that a working project communication system was put in place. Firstly, everybody who was working on Lotschberg Base Tunnel project  was informed of the need to have proper communication. This was done with support given to those who were likely to have communication challenges. Moreover, proper management of barriers to efficient communication were broken.

To make it better, the project managers ensured that communication equipments were acquired for efficient system. To make communication risk well managed, each individual was urged to ensure that clarity of communication messages was observed. This was aimed at ensuring that the actions that were intended to be carried out were easily picked.  As the project progressed, the risk regarding communication was put away through ensuring that there was continuous improvement of the communication channels. This was supported by review of the communication related policies.

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  1. Human resource risk

Risk related to human resource for the project was also identified. One of the identified events that would lead to this risk was poor recruitment process. There was fear that the recruitment process would not be on time together with hiring of incompetent people. To manage this, the recruiting function ensured that timelines were adhered to throughout the process. Additionally, evaluation of the skills held by the potential employees was done thoroughly. Induction, monitoring and control of the successful individuals were also done appropriately.

The other risky event was the fear that some employees would abandon their duties. To manage this, the human resource management function for the project ensured that close supervision was carried out. Another identified contributor of human resource risk was project team disagreements. Whenever there are conflicts within the workforce, the human resource risk escalates (Pardo 2009, p.86).

To handle this, the human resource management group ensured that proper conflict resolution was applied. This increased the number of conflicts solved amicably. Time to time team building activities were also helpful in ensuring that the human resource risk as a result of conflicts was mitigated. To ensure that the workforce stayed on duty, the human resource function identified health and safety aspect of workplace as qualifying for management to avoid the related risk.

This was done through having health and safety experts advise accordingly. From the health and safety experts consulted proper assessment was done. This was followed by education cum advice on health and safety matters. This was made better by support of the aspects that make employees motivated and geared towards completion of their tasks.

These included attractive wages and incentive programs. Through this, the employees felt appreciated and workforce turnover was reduced throughout the project. To make it better, the working conditions were made friendlier to the workers. Proper management of working conditions ensures that the human resource risk is managed properly (Riley 2013, p.54).

  • Technological risk

Technology has become one of the greatest aids to creation of efficiency in the implementation of projects. According to Nikolova (2015, p.34), technological aspect of a project should always be considered in risk management.. The events that were feared might cause technological risk included the use of wrong technology or use of technology that is not tested yet.

To manage the risk, the issue of using the wrong technology for Lotschberg Base Tunnel project was handled through proper comparison of the project with the available technologies. This exercise led to elimination of the irrelevant technologies. To settle on the final right technology, the benefits of each relevant technology were looked at and decision was made. Regarding use of untested technology for the project, elimination was done. This led to a clear picture of the suitable technology.

  • Environmental risk

Regarding the identified environmental risk, the negative effects that the project would have on environment were considered. According to Ali, M et al. (2008, p. 56), environmental conservation is a success measure in projects. First, the physical interference with land through excavation for tunnelling was considered. Secondly, this project has part of its length constructed on the Alps thus the need to consider the effects on the beautiful topography.

To manage the environmental risk as per the identified aspects of the project, proper research and consultation was carried out. This let to proper input regarding the processes that would be friendly to the environment within the project location. Additionally, materials that are friendly to environment were used. This was followed by proper use of equipments to ensure that they maintain the stability of the environment. The processes and techniques used in a project should always help in improving life through environmental carefulness (Sharma, Pablo & Vredenburg 2009, p. 21)

  • User risk

Project users have become an integral part of project management (Huang 2010, p. 25). This is because the role they play as stakeholders is priceless. With this in mind, proper risk searching was carried out and the risk function felt that there was need to consider user risk for management. To manage this risk, proper rapport was created between the project and users. Constructive meetings were scheduled for the users to interact with the project team.

This was useful in ensuring that there was better understanding of the project progress. Additionally, proper interaction with the users created a platform where confusing aspects of the project were made clear. With clarification of confusing elements of the project, it was easy to explain some of the challenges that the project was coming through. This brought about a situation where more support was given by the stakeholders.

  • Supplier risk

Projects are usually sustained by material availability. Breakdown in material requirement was identified as an occurrence that may lead to supplier risk. According to Vivian and Shen (2012, p. 86), this is usually brought about by the fear that some suppliers may be inefficient in their supply.

To handle this, the stock management for the project was made more efficient. This included proper management of the re-order level to ensure that proper levels of stock are maintained. Additionally, adherence to supplier payment plans was done to avoid supplier unrests. To make it better, suppliers were warned against going against their contracts.

Benefits to the project from proper risk management

It is worth noting that when risk management is done well, a project benefits from it. During Lotschberg Base Tunnel project, risk management was done in a way that brought about several benefits.

  1. Budget adherence

Risk management has a positive correlation with budget movements. The budget that was set for this project did not skyrocket beyond. This was caused by various reasons, proper risk management being one of them. Eventually, Lotschberg Base Tunnel project was completed within the estimated budget one reason being there was no risk related compensation to make.

  1. Certification

During the implementation of this project, proper risk management let to certification of the various phases. It is worth noting that projects are usually halted or stopped whenever they operate under circumstances that are too risky. With this project managing its risks properly, it was easy to obtain certificates from the relevant authorities.

  1. Reduced disruptions

Whenever risky incidences occur during implementation of a project, disruptions take place. This means that the project schedule is affected among other aspects of the project. Luckily, Lotschberg Base Tunnel project saw few disruptions. This is because there was proper management of risks identified for the project.

  1. Reduced insurance premiums

This project ran to completion successfully with few incidents. This means that insurance evaluation did not find need to increase the premiums already set for various covers. Interestingly, there was an effort to negotiate for lower premiums since the project was progressing within safe operation.

  • Cost stability

As a result of proper risk management during implementation of this project, the cost involved was stable. This project operated within the cost range planned. The stability of the cost was brought about by the fact that there were no much additions as a result of response to risky incidences.

Tools, techniques and their suitability for Lotschberg Base Tunnel project

This project called for the use of reliable tools for project management. According to Loo (2009, p. 46), the need for project management tools is brought about by the complex nature involved. The tools are known to simplify activities that would have proved complex without.

During the implementation of Lotschberg Base Tunnel project, the Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) was used as a tool. This project management tool was applied manually in the project. It is worth noting that it can be used with the aid of computer software. PERT is a very useful project management tool since it identifies the activities that are required for a project to continue up to completion (Radek 2016, p. 14-24). This tool is known to give proper guidance when it comes controlling the flow of activities.

Through the use of PERT as a project management tool, the specific project activities were identified successfully. The identification of these activities assisted in planning better for the project. During the progress of Lotschberg Base Tunnel project, this tool of project management enabled the project managers control all processes successfully.

With the aid of this project management tool, the project managers were able to identify the time requirement for each of the identified tasks. This enabled the project managers come up with suitable schedules as per the identified timeframe of the projects. Additionally, this project tool was used in identifying the challenges that were embodied to each activity.

Proper identification of challenges facing a particular project activity is very important since it creates a good opportunity for finding solution (Sunday Business Post 2011, p. 16). Therefore, this tool enabled the project managers come up with ways of overcoming challenges facing the project.

The use of Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) was advisable. The suitability of this project management tool was encouraged by its ability to address several aspects of a project at the same time. It does away with instances of omissions that other project techniques have.

Importance of using suitable tools and techniques for Lotschberg Base Tunnel project

It is advisable for projects to be handled properly through use of the suitable tools and techniques. The tools and techniques used were able to bring benefits regarding the following.

The use of PERT enabled the project to run within the expected cost level. According to Engwall (2012, p. 595) says that this is because this tool for project management enables proper planning. Proper planning is known to be useful in cost management of a project.


Through the use of the identified tools and techniques, communication within the stakeholder community was made efficient. Selection of proper techniques ensures that the project system is coordinated in terms of communication.


It is worth noting that project techniques play a big role in risk management. Through the use of the suitable techniques for Lotschberg Base Tunnel project, risk management was made easy thus reaping benefits of having proper risk management for a project.

Resource allocation

The use of PERT as a tool for this project enabled the project manager is able to manage the available resources well. This was through the ability of this tool to give forecasts for resources. This is very useful in projects since it makes planning easy.


Through the use of suitable tools and techniques for this project, efficiency was created in all activities of the project. The tools assisted in identifying the main activities for the project. Upon identification, the activities were scheduled according to the design of the project. This was merged with proper time plan that let to successful completion of Lotschberg Base Tunnel project.


Projects should be handled with a lot of care. This is necessary because it brings about identification of all aspects that need to be put under control. Risk management should be planned for whenever a project is being implemented. The project manager should ensure all aspects of risk management are put in order. This should be through assignment and investment in risk management. Additionally, the process of risk management should be defined properly to avoid confusion.

The tools and techniques to be used for a particular project should be identified in time. Testing practically or through precedent should be done. This should be supported by detailed proof of their suitability. This should be motivated by the need to gain from the benefits associated with project tools and techniques. It is worth noting that the tools and techniques used in project management require continuous review. This is always important since it enables the project managers update the appropriately.


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