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Round Tables

Round Tables

WTC2023 Round Tables


The roman poet Juvenal, in his efforts to criticize corruption and indulgence in the mid-first century AD, fixed his satirical eye upon “the vanity of human wishes”. Juvenal’s advice was to limit your hopes to a simple minimum. Pray for just one blessing: a sound mind in a healthy body (Satires 10. 356). His words have become a symbol for the benefits of recreational exercise.

In an athletic spirit, WTC 2023 Organizing Committee  invites delegates to participate in two exceptional athletic events which will be held in Athens as parallel activities of the Congress.

ITA Young members group is extremely active and we are planning a respectively interesting program for them.

Stay tuned.

Underground Space for Mobility:
Frontier / Emerging Technologies

Monday 15 May / 9:00 am

A special Round Table with the participation of some “Tunnelling Legends” on Monday morning 15-5-2023 during the Opening Ceremony.

Discussion moderator

Prof. Lord Robert Mair (Cambridge University)

Participating experts:

Prof. Tarcisio Celestino University of São Paulo / Past ITA President
Martin Knights Past ITA President
Dr. Kancheepuram N. Gunalan Past President of ASCE
Marco Rosso President of Supervisory Board / Cargo Sous Terrain Switzerland

Holistic view of road tunnel safety and risks: composing all factors and perspectives for sustainable projects in difficult times

Moderator: Arnold Dix


  1. Current experience and assessment of road tunnel safety level.
  2. Critical issues that require further investigation and deepening
  3. New risks that arise with new vehicle technologies and how they affect existing regulations
  4. Tunnel projects are usually planned with a technical lifetime of one hundred years. Are there new sustainability elements and data that should be considered in the design?
  5. What would be the appropriate institutional body to coordinate, exchange and integrate the internationally acquired knowledge and experience in the field of road tunnel safety?
  6. Does the new macroeconomic and international environment introduce new challenges to our field?


Members of the round table:

Bernhard Kohl studied Civil Engineering at the University of Innsbruck, specializing in Traffic & Transport. He complemented his education by postgraduate studies in Risk and Safety of Technical Systems at ETH Zurich. Since 1987 he is working with ILF Consulting Engineers, first as project manager, than as department leader and in 2020 he joined the ILF Group Management Board being responsible for the coordination of the business area Transportation and Urban Spaces. In his professional career he was mainly working in major traffic infrastructure projects and he specialized in tunnel risk management with Focus on quantitative risk assessment. After more than 30 years of experience Bernhard Kohl is now an internationally recognized expert in tunnel safety and member of the Technical Committee “Road Tunnel Operations” of the World Road Organisation PIARC

Nobuharu Isago is a professor of Tokyo Metropolitan University and proceeds several research activities regarding tunnel structure, maintenance methodology and facilities of road tunnels.  Isago is designated as many technical committees such as Japan Society of Civil Engineers, Japan Road Association, Japan Tunneling Association and so on, and joins as a member of PIARC TC 4.4 (tunnel).  Between 1996 and 2018, Isago was employed as a government official of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, and a director of tunnel research team of Public Works Research Institute (PWRI), engaging in the research and development, technical adviser of road tunnel in Japan up to 2018.  This included the advice for tunnel design, construction and maintenance technology, and he commissioned with the development and implementation of periodical inspection standard for road tunnel and revised the maintenance guideline, the measurement guideline of mountain tunnel and the technical standard of emergency facilities for road tunnel.  Currently, he is involved with the construction and refurbishment projects of various national and international road tunnels, as well as the revise of the Japanese national road tunnel technical standard and tunnel safety concept.

Ingo Kaundinya is civil engineer with a PhD (Dr.-Ing.) in Geotechnics. In the past he worked as a Project Engineer in the tunnel industry. Since 2005 he works at Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) in Germany. His present position is Head of Section B3 – Tunnel and Foundation Engineering, Tunnel Operation, Civil Security. For the work cycle 2020-2023 he is the chairman of PIARC’s Technical Committee 4.4 “Tunnels”.

Konstantinos Koutsoukos holds a diploma in Civil Engineer from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, a Masters Degree in Transportation Engineering from the University of Minnesota and in Economics and Finance from the University of Texas. He is the CEO and Managing Director of Egnatia odos SA. where he held different upper administrative positions and since 2006 served as a Director of Operations while today is a Director of Exploitation, responsible for the toll operation for the highway.  He was recently voted President of “HELLASTRON” (Hellenic Association of Toll Road Network).  He holds more than 25 years of experience in the USA and Europe, focusing in transportation projects and has worked with projects involving Intelligent Transportation Systems applications.
Mr. Koutsoukos represents the Greek government participation to European Community in Electronic Toll and Interoperability issues from 2002, while constitutes founding member since 2007 of a Greek Government Authority, responsible for the Licensing of Operating of tunnels to Greek territory. He is a Member of the Technical Chamber of Greece (TEE), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE). He has a plethora publications in international conferences related to Transportation, the first one in 1990 where he was awarded at annual Transportation Research Board (TRB) for studies in accidents (Transportation Research Board conference in Washington D.C.). 

Ricardo Miranda, Certified Electronic and Mechanical Technician, Electronic Engineer, Fire Protection Engineer and Emergency Management Specialist, Master’s degree in Operational Safety (on going). Managing Director of Mirabit Consultoria and the Joint venture Mirabit-Enprodes-Amberg Engineering in Brazil. Member of PIARC TC 4.4 Road Tunnels, ITA-COSUF, TC for Fire Protection and Life Safety in transportation infrastructure from Brazilian Technical Standards Association, chair of the TC responsible for underground ventilation and air quality Standards and TC for road tunnel lighting standards. Involved in Road Tunnel Safety and its electro mechanical installations maintenance since 1998, with experience in projects in Brazil, Colombia, Panamá, Peru, Chile and other countries totalizing more than 150 Km of road tunnels.

Anthony P. Tierney

Chief Officer – Mersey Tunnels Police

A 28-year career in policing, 10 years as the Chief Officer, the youngest in the force’s 87-year history. Anthony is the strategic lead in operational policing for major or critical events or incidents; planning and directing the activities of the force in line with the legal framework and wider policing policies/objectives to uphold the law, ensure public safety and strengthen public confidence. In his role he leads the development of culture, climate and working processes to ensure adherence to standards and the promotion of accountability and continuous improvement.  Leading and engaging a team of senior policing professionals, protecting and promoting workforce wellbeing and professional standards.
Key skills – developing strategic relationships, influencing and collaborating to achieve improvement in public safety, building trust and confidence in policing.  Leading the assessment of future demands, emerging threats and risks across multiple areas, adapting operational and workforce plans.
Leading organisational change projects/programmes, maximising IT solutions to improve performance and efficiency (subject matter expert) in IT.
Force Strategic Commander at Local Resilience Forum, Critical and Major Incidents, Event Management, Multi-Agency Events and exercises.
UK Road Tunnel Association – Committee Executive
ITA Cosuf (European Tunnel Safety Officers Forum)
PIARC/World Road Association
Cortex ICCS National User Group – Chair 

WTC 2023 | 17 May 2023 | 11:00 – 13:00 | MC3 HALL

Women in Tunnelling – Picture an underground expert: paving the road to diversity

A session where we celebrate diversity in our industry but also seek equality and promote inclusion. The focus is on the contribution of women engineers to the underground industry and research with the participation of our outstanding members who are active in the promotion of diversity in tunnelling and underground space.

Session Moderators

Paraskevi Yiouta-Mitra sm

Dr  Paraskevi Yiouta-Mitra, Tunnelling Laboratory NTUA, GR
WTC2023 Organising Committee
past Vice-President GTS 

Uni. Prof. Chrysothemis Paraskevopoulou, University of Leeds, UK
WTC2023 Organising Committee
ITACET Committee Member, General Secretariat GTS 

Chrysothemis Paraskevopoulou new sm


Sanja Zlatanic sm

Sanja Zlatanic
Senior Vice President & Chair, HNTB
National Tunnel Practice, USA, ITA-AITES Ex-Co 

Jinxiu (Jenny) Yan
ITA-AITES Past President, China 

Jinxiu (Jenny) Yan sm
Helen Reeves sm

Dr Helen Reeves
Head of Discipline for Geoscience & Engineering Geology TGE (Europe) & Director, UK & IAEG (VP Europe

Eirini Psychari
Senior Mine Geotechnical & Backfill Engineer,
Hellas Gold S.A., GR 

Eirini Psychari sm
Mark Diederichs sm

Uni. Prof. Mark Diederichs, Queen’s University, Canada
TAC EDI Committee Member 

Elena Marnika
Mining Rights & Permitting Engineer, IMERYS BAUXITES S.A.., GR 

Elena Marnika sm
Artemis Plemmenou sm

Artemis Plemmenou
Civil Engineer and Safety Coordinator

Theodora Vovou
Senior Tunnel Engineer, Hatch, USA 

Theodora Vovou sm

Invitees for the Round Table Discussion

Prof. Arnold Dix
Barrister, Australia
ITA-AITES President

Arnold Dix sm
Evangelia Peli sm

Dr  Evangelia Peli Director Earthquake Planning & Protection Organisation, GR

Marilia Balasi
Civil Engineer, Tunnel Design Project Manager at Omikron Kappa Consulting S.A.

Marilia Balasi sm
Nasri Munfah sm

Nasri Munfah
P.E., Partner, Principal,
Gall Zeidler Consultants, LLC, USA 

Eleni Zygouri
Civil Engineer, D. Bairaktaris &
Ass/tes Structural Design Office Ltd.,

Evangelia Gavrielatou sm

Evangelia Gavrielatou
Civil Engineer,

Robert Galler, Uni. Professor, Montanuniversität Leoben, Austria

After completing the HTL in civil engineering Robert Galler studied mining and tunneling at Montanuniversität Leoben, specializing in geomechanics, tunnel construction and structural civil engineering. In 1997 he finished his PhD. From 1997 to 2007, Robert Galler worked for GEOCONSULT Consulting Engineers. Selected reference projects, in which Robert Galler worked in a leading position, are the high-speed rail connection from Frankfurt to Cologne for Deutsche Bahn, the tender planning for the Semmering base tunnel and the submission, tender and execution design for some construction lots of the approx. 40km long Unterinntalbahn of ÖBB Infrastruktur AG. From 2004 to 2007, Robert Galler was the project manager of a design consortium consisting of 8 companies for the Brenner Base Tunnel project. Since November 2006, Robert Galler has been Professor for Subsurface Engineering at Montanuniversität Leoben; since 2000 he has been a member of the board of the Austrian Society for Geomechanics, since 2005 he has represented Austria in the ITA – International Tunneling Association. In September 2013, Robert Galler was elected chairman of ITA-CET (International Tunneling Association – Communication, Education and Training) in London, which conducts special training courses in the field of geotechnics and tunneling for engineers worldwide. Since December 2015, Robert Galler has been the department head for ZaB – Zentrum am Berg, a unique underground research and development center as well as training and education center, and since July 2016 he has also been the department head for Mineral Resources Engineering.

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Mark Diederichs, Uni. Professor, Queen’s University, Canada


Mark Diederichs began his career with a BASc in Geological Engineering at the University of Toronto. After obtaining his Masters degree in Rock Engineering at UofT, his early work involved the development of geological engineering software to aid in underground mining and tunnelling as well as slope stability. He moved on to a position as field microseismic engineer at Creighton Mine, in support of a Queen’s University R&D initiative,  before taking a rock mechanics research position with the Geomechanics Research Centre in Laurentian University where he worked on establishing guidelines fo ground support design  and pursued research related to rockbursts in deep mining. In addition, he has worked as a mining and tunnelling consultant for many years. After completing his PhD in 2000, he joined Queen’s Geological Science and Geological Engineering in 2001. He specializes in underground rock mechanics issues including damage zone development around tunnels, engineering rock characterization in heterogeneous conditions, support design issues, tunnel excavation challenges in hard brittle rock, soft squeezing ground and, brittle fracture and rockbursting and long term stability of caverns and shafts related to nuclear waste repositories.

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Gerard Seingre, Civil Engineer, BG Consulting Engineers Ltd.

Since 2017 he works for BG Consulting Engineers Ltd. He holds several positions such as the expert, project manager, Geotechnical and Underground Infrastructures & Energy Production (IGSE), Lecturer for underground construction technology at EPFL, Treasurer of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association ITA-AITES, and Member of Swiss Tunnelling committee. He is experienced in hard rock tunneling (TBM and D+B), high depth tunneling (Rock burst), major projects, shafts, big caverns, injection under high water pressure and natural hazard management in mountainous regions.

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Dr Sotirios Vardakos, Technical Director for Tunnels in HNTB’s National Tunnel Practice

Dr Sotirios Vardakos (PE) is a Practice Consultant and Technical Director for Tunnels in HNTB’s National Tunnel Practice. He has a Master’s and Ph.D in Civil – Geotechnical Engineering from Virginia Tech and Bachelor’s and Master’s in Mining Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens – Greece.  He has more than 20 years’ experience in underground design and construction with a strong focus in mechanized tunneling, and rock engineering. He served as Task Lead for various underground engineering projects including the East Side Access and Second Avenue Phase 2 projects in New York and the Amtrak Baltimore Potomac Tunnel Replacement Program. Dr. Vardakos recently served as Principal Investigator and Deputy Project Manager for several Federal Highway Administration research programs including research in the US practice for segmental lining design of large diameter tunnels. He is currently working as geotechnical tunneling lead for a new pedestrian and people mover tunnel for the Austin Bergstrom International Airport in Texas.

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Tarcisio Celestino

Tarcisio Celestino was previously ITA President (2016-19) and President of the Brazilian Tunnelling Committee. He was the Animateur of the ITA Working Group 12 on Sprayed Concrete Use (2005-10). He earned his doctorate degree in Civil Engineering (Rock Mechanics) from the University of California, Berkeley (1981).

He is currently Professor at the University of Sao Paulo and employed by Themag Engenharia Ltda., Sao Paulo (Brazil), where he leads the Geotechnical Engineering, Engineering Geology &Transportation Engineering Design Groups. He is also responsible for the geotechnical designs of several hydroelectric power plants, subways, highways etc., including major underground works (since 1990). He has also acted as consultant.

Professor Celestino continues to contribute his knowledge for the graduate courses & research areas on Rock Mechanics & Underground Works, at the São Carlos Engineering School, University of São Paulo and for the ITACET Foundation.

2. Excursion of history and adventure in Lavreotiki
Sunday 14 May, 2023

Our destination is the exploitation galleys of one of the largest underground mines of Attica. The chambers of metal extraction, rich in recognisable minerals, combine the mystery of ancient drifts with the beauty of caves. We will wander underground for up to 3 hours and explore the maize of drifts, the chambers supported by natural as well as carved-out pillars and the stalactites decoration reminiscent of natural caves. Each of the routes we follow hides surprises waiting to be discovered! 

After we will visit the great “Chaos” sinkhole, a heart-shaped sinkhole formation 150m in diameter and 55m deep. This chiasm may have been formed by the collapse of a cave roof as many of the area’s mining tunnels end there.

Scientific theme: Underground mining activity in Lavrio

Duration: 6 hours inclusive

Detailed program

9.30-10.30 Athens-Lavrio

10.30-13.30 Underground mines

14.00-14.30 Stop at dolin “Chaos” and return to Athens

14.30 – 15.30 Lavrio-Athens

Cost per person: 40,00 €

*limited participation on a first come first served basis. In case participants are less than 20, the respective event will be cancelled and a refund wil be given.

Photo Gallery

1. We go down Athens underground. (Athens centre, moving around on foot)
Saturday 13 May, 2023

How many surprises can the Athens underground have in store for its visitors? The stroll will start from underground shelters and detention areas of the German Kommandatur, remnants of the 2nd World War in Athens. Then, we will take the steps that start off under a timeworn trap door on the side of a road or hidden away in a sidewalk flower–bed, that will lead us in a different, forgotten underground area of the city! For hundreds of years, underground pathways have been used for various and mysterious purposes. Some say that all underground pathways are interconnected although there is no proof of this. Nevertheless, the allure of an unknown world is always there, beneath the ground we walk on. We lift up the antiquated hatch and descend the stone steps.  In the catacomb, we come across tunnels of ancient aqueducts, roman baths and byzantine crypts. The Athens river is also found hidden below the ground, running in old galleys under the most central streets of Athens – we can hear the cars passing over our heads! 

We invite you to discover together the hidden secrets of our city!

Scientific theme: underground constructions of the 19th and 20th century.

Duration: Maximum of 4 hours.

Detailed program:

11.00 Meeting outside Metro Station Panepistimio

11.30 Memorial Site (Korai Street). Two-level underground shelter below the Mansion of Ethniki Insurance Company.

13.00 Catacombs of the Russian Church (Filellinon Street). Inside the catacombs a tunnel and a shaft from ancient Peisistratus aqueduct, ruins from roman baths and crypts of the Byzantine order of Likodimos -11th century.

14.00 Ilissos River (area of Panathenaic Stadium). The buried riverbed of Athens river Ilissos.

Cost per person : 35,00 €

*limited participation on a first come first served basis. In case participants are less than 20, the respective event will be cancelled and a refund wil be given.

Photo Gallery

Professor Kyriazis Pitilakis

Professor Kyriazis Pitilakis has more than forty years of intensive academic, research and professional experience in civil, earthquake and geotechnical engineering. Vice-President of the European Association of Earthquake Engineering (EAEE), ex- Chairman of the Technical Committee “Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering andAssociated Problems” (TC203) of the International Society of Soil Mechanics and Geotechnical Engineering (ISSMGE), and past President of the Greek Society of Earthquake Engineering. He is presently Professor Emeritus in Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece and since 2019 visiting Professor in Tongji University, International Laboratory of earthquake Engineering (ILEE), Shanghai, China.

Coordinator and scientific responsible of numerous European research projects, namely EUROSEISTEST and SYNER-G, he has a long experience in European research activities in earthquake engineering, geotechnical engineering, vulnerability and risk assessment of civil engineering structures, infrastructures and lifelines. According to the recent Stanford classification he is among the top 10 leading researchers in Civil Engineering in Greece, and among the top 10 leading international researchers in specific topics like Soil Dynamics, Engineering Seismology and Geotechnical Earthquake Engineering.

Chairman of several international conferences including the 16th European Conference of Earthquake Engineering, Thessaloniki 2018 and invited keynote lecturer in many International Conferences. Author of more than 650 scientific papers (h-factor 57) published in peer review scientific journals, and conference proceedings, author and co-author in several books, editor of four books published in Springer Editions, all in relevant subjects of earthquake engineering, seismic risk and geotechnical earthquake engineering. Professor Kyriazis Pitilakis is founder and coordinator of EUROSEISTEST, a large scale experimental facility in earthquake engineering, soil dynamics and engineering seismology that is unique in Europe and worldwide. He supervised more that 30 PhD thesis and numerous of his students hold academic positions in Greece and worldwide.

Professor Kyriazis Pitilakis is strongly involved in the ongoing revision of EC8 (Part 1-Seismic Actions and Part 5-Seismic design of foundations, retaining structures, soilstructure interaction, liquefaction, slope stability and underground structures), while he has been international expert for the revision of other seismic codes worldwide.

He is member of the editorial advisory board in Springer editions (Geotechnical, Geological and Earthquake Engineering), member of the editorial board and reviewer of numerous scientific journals and member of many international societies in earthquake and geotechnical engineering.

Honors: Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Academiques, French Republic.
Thessaloniki 06.06.2022

Professor Marc Panet

The 12th Muir Wood lecture will be delivered by Professor Marc Panet during the WTC2023 in Athens. His nomination being a Muir Wood lecturer was proposed by the French Tunnelling & Underground Space Association (AFTES) as per ITA’s Statues and By-laws.

Marc Panet graduated in Civil Engineering at the École des Mines de Paris and obtained a Master degree at the University of California at Berkeley. He started his career in 1965 at the Laboratoire Central des Ponts et Chaussées, in Paris, where he was a Research Engineer, Head of the Geotechnical Department and Technical Director. In 1982 he joined the SHP Group, in Paris, as Scientific Director. From 1984 to 1996 he was the President and CEO of SIMECSOL; and from 1996 to 2000 President and CEO of FC International SA. Since then he has been working as a consultant. He taught at the École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées, at the École des Mines and at the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, in Paris.

Marc has been in charge of numerous studies in geotechnical engineering for underground works, highways, bridges, and natural hazards. Among the main projects are: the Mont Blanc Tunnel (11.6km), the Frejus Road Tunnel (12.9 km), the Large Electron–Positron Collider (CERN in Geneva), the Channel Tunnel (from 1967 to the end of the construction), the Millau Bridge, the Loetschberg Base Tunnel (43 km), subways in Paris, Rennes, Caracas, Athens and Algiers, the slides of the city of Constantine (Algeria), the project of the suspended bridge on the Straits of Messina (Italy) and the project of the cable-stayed bridge on the Golden Horn (Turkey). He is presently involved in a large number of geotechnical projects.

He is the author of a large number of publications in professional journals and international conferences and of the well-known book “Calculation of tunnels using the convergence-confinement method”.

Marc Panet is a Honorary Member of the French Academy of Technology, Knight of the National Order of Merit and Knight of the Order of Academic Palms.