Meet Our Speakers

At Cutting Edge, we are bringing together the industry's top thought leaders in tunneling.

We are dedicated to bringing together some of the most renowned professionals in urban tunneling in the industry. Learn more about these speakers’ presentations in Technical Sessions.

Keynote Speakers

Keynote Presentation: Extreme Tunnelling for a Brave New World

Dr. Arnold Dix, ALARP

Arnold Dix is a lawyer, geologist, disaster investigator, trial attorney, dispute resolution practitioner, technical dispute avoidance board specialist and visiting Professor of Tunnel Engineering at Tokyo City University. Dix also lends his expertise as an International Tunnel Standards Adviser (including NFPA130 and 502, PIARC) and ITA Vice-President & Executive Council Member. He is internationally recognised as a risk specialist for the underground for projects from conception to operations and refurbishment. His practical “hands on” approach bridges the gap between technical, legal and aspirational challenges underground.

The contradiction of the value of a human life in the face of exponential population growth demands deeper, faster and more extreme subsurface infrastructure. The machines constructing these demands are barely habitable by humans – the risks to health so great that the burden of safety is hard to maintain. The companies mobilizing to design and build them – buckling under the burden of unfair contracts, lack of expertise and unpopularity of the activity for the smartest and brightest. The clients struggling to deliver for their societies trying to maintain trust and order for a civil society. In this brave new world come the robots, the data and the super computers.

This presentation explores this new frontier in which the digital twin, standards, brands and old trusted practices, may pose bigger risk than our old nemesis ground support, cutterhead intervention and design.


Keynote Presentation: Face Support in XXL Soft Ground TBMs: Never Outdated

Lars Babendererde, BabEng

Lars Babendererde has a degree in mechanical engineering and has worked in the tunneling industry since university, when he worked as intern on construction sites and as a draftsman for tunnel boring machine and guidance system manufacturers. Following his degree, he became the Founding Partner of an international engineering and consulting company, BabEng. The company specializes in mechanized tunneling, supporting project owners and constructors worldwide during all project phases.

Lars Babendererde is further engaged in professional organizations like the ITA-AITES (currently acting as one of the vice presidents), UCA, TAC and DAUB (German Tunnelling Committee).

Lars’ presentation will look at the problems of maintaining face support in special conditions like tunneling into a closed environment like narrow stations boxes. Though maintaining face support is a mere standard requirement for all soft ground tunnels, it is astonishing to observe the frequent cases where reliable support did not succeed and problems occurred. This observation turns the focus on education of the next generation of engineers to be prepared for such practical challenges


Keynote Presentation: Evolution of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel Expansion Project

James Utterback, Virginia Department of Transportation

Jim Utterback was named VDOT’s Project Director for the $3.8bn Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel (HRBT) Expansion Project in January 2018. Jim has over 34 years of combined public and private sector professional experience. Throughout his career, he has managed a diverse portfolio of large complex programs and projects ranging in size from $485M to over $4.5bn. Prior to being named Project Director, Jim was responsible for developing and delivering one of the largest regional transportation construction programs in Virginia totaling over $1.1bn of primarily Design-Build projects. He was also recognized for developing VDOT’s first transportation Design-Build project in 2004 and instituting a number of Design-Build practices that are still in place today.

Jim has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Military Institute and a master’s degree in business from Webster University. He currently lives in Virginia Beach.

Jim’s presentation will briefly cover the history of tunneling in Hampton Roads Virginia. Then look into the challenges of expanding an Interstate Bridge-Tunnel Facility that crosses one of the busiest commercial and military deep water harbors on the East Coast of the United States. The presentation will conclude with a “bird’s eye” look at the Owner’s decision process in determining scope, funding, procurement strategy and timeline for the project.


Keynote Presentation: Metro Tunneling in Complex Urban Areas: The Thomson Line, Singapore

Andreas Raedle, Arup

Andreas is the Technical Leader of Arup’s Singapore office and Tunnel Leader for the Australasia region. He is currently involved in the design and construction of several challenging major underground infrastructure projects in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, such as the Thomson Line, Cross Island Line, Changi Airport Inter Terminal Tunnels (all in Singapore), Bangkok Orange Line (Thailand), Kuala Lumpur Phase 2 Metro (Malaysia), Central Interceptor Auckland (New Zealand) and Cross River Rail Brisbane (Australia). Before moving to Singapore, Andreas worked for Hochtief Murphy JV for five years in London as Technical and Risk Manager on Crossrail’s C310 Thames Tunnel.

Singapore’s 30km-long all-underground Thomson Line (TSL) involved the operation of approx. 30 TBMs to complete the twin running tunnels and the construction of 22 underground stations including six interchange stations. Andreas’ presentation will focus on the TSL-A and TSL-D contracts, including project features such as; varying geotechnical conditions, design of bored tunnels in consolidated marine clay, under and overcrossing of existing railway lines, tunneling underneath operational stations, and Three-Way Interchange Stations. The project is currently in the construction phase, with all tunneling works now complete, and the tunnels and stations in fit out stage.