Our work


Tunnels involve specific issues. The most important of these is safety, and both technical risks and human behaviour play an important role. Air quality near tunnel mouths and noise nuisance are also aspects that require attention. TNO has contributed specialist knowledge to the proper and safe functioning of almost all the tunnels in the Netherlands, and to the realisation of legislation and regulations for these civil works.

The first tunnels were built under the major rivers and canals. They enabled different traffic flows to be routed past each other. From the beginning of the 1980s, spatial integration of infrastructure was a further reason to build tunnels. There are now 60 tunnels in the Netherlands, and 12 new ones are being built. In recent decades, tunnels have been built at an average rate of one per year. This number will probably increase as urbanisation continues.

Tunnel safety

Accidents in tunnels can have serious consequences because a tunnel is a closed system. Escape is difficult if an explosion occurs or fire breaks out. Human behaviour – including that of drivers, operators and emergency services – is an important factor in this, and is taken into consideration as early as the design stage. Knowledge and expertise from a range of disciplines are utilised to reduce the probability and impact of disasters.


TNO provides knowledge in the following fields:

  • Tunnel simulations. Gaming technology provides a safe online environment in which road traffic controllers can practice with emergency scenarios. TNO works with market players and Rijkswaterstaat in this field.
  • Structural safety, for example with research into the various measures that are necessary to ensure that tunnels are structurally safe
  • Studies into the development of explosions and fire in tunnels
  • Air quality in tunnels and at tunnel mouths
  • Tunnel safety in terms of the complex interaction of human behaviour, the operation of emergency services and the functioning of technical systems in tunnels
  • Traffic safety in long or complex tunnels
• Integrated risk analysis for tunnels

Our work

Tunnel safety

Accidents in tunnels can have serious consequences. When an explosion or fire occurs in an enclosed system, the fire can spread to other vehicles and escape is difficult. TNO has unique expertise in safety... Read more
Our work

Damage investigation

In the event of a disaster, expert knowledge is essential in order to make a rapid assessment of the situation. Once the cause is known, the appropriate measures can be taken. Information from a disaster... Read more
Our work

Extending service life civil structures

Structures are designed to have a long service life. This is usually between 50 and 100 years. Many of the civil structures in the Dutch infrastructure are more than half way through their intended service... Read more
Our work

Monitoring civil works

Many bridges, viaducts and locks will reach the end of their useful life in the years to come. Replacement or renovation work is a major undertaking. Costs are involved, and good planning is required... Read more
Our work

Concrete and concrete structures

Structural concrete is a versatile construction material that is used for over 100 years already. TNO has the knowledge required to understand the structural behavior of concrete structures. In practice,... Read more


Arie Bleijenberg MSc

  • infrastructure
  • asset management


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