At sea, you don’t get a second chance. Once out of sight of land the only thing you can depend on is your ship, and tragically, for thousands of people, the ship has let them down. But out of every catastrophe comes knowledge, from the Titanic to the Estonia, every disaster at sea has had a radical effect on the design of the ships that followed. Examining the latest in Arctic cruise liners and hi-tech, high speed passenger catamarans, this programme shows how ships have become more technologically advanced than ever before, and by following the building of one of the world’s most advanced and luxurious vessels, Ruby Princess, the design secrets that allow modern passenger ships to operate safely, with thousands of passengers and crew on board will be revealed.
On 2 August 2007, during a busy rush hour in the city of Minneapolis in the American midwest, the entire span of an interstate bridge broke into pieces and collapsed into the Mississippi River. Tragically, 13 people lost their lives in the ensuing carnage. The incident was caught live on CCTV, and the horrifying images sent shock waves around the world. The nation was sent into a state of panic. How could this appalling calamity have occurred?
Tunnels – the word evokes mystery, adventure and claustrophobia. They make mountains manageable, connect our cities and can even bring together continents. But every tunnel is an enclosed space - a very dangerous place to be if something goes wrong. This episode looks at how recent catastrophes at the Channel Tunnel, Mont Blanc and Gotthard Tunnels of Europe spawned a revolution in tunnel building technology that is still evolving today. From failsafe evacuation systems through fireproof concrete and radical new approaches to tunnel design itself this programme will see how new tunnel projects are using high tech to keep alive if the worst happens. At the core of the programme is the cutting-edge Marmaray Tunnel in Turkey - this US$4 billion project will connect Europe and Asia with a dual bore rail tunnel running under the Bosphorous Straits. But there is a problem, the Anatolian Fault Line lies 11 miles from the site.
Sport stadiums are amongst the most iconic, eyecatching structures of the modern world. Symbols of local and national pride, they play host to huge crowds on a weekly basis. No other structure holds so many people in such close proximity and in such an emotionally charged atmosphere – so when the structures fail, the effects can be catastrophic. Over the past century, more than 1,600 people have died at stadiums across the world. To prevent disasters happening in the stadiums of the future, engineers have had to learn what went wrong in the past.
High-speed trains are an essential part of modern travel, slashing journey times between cities and transporting passengers in comfort and style. But with the need for speed comes a greater necessity for safety. When fast trains crash, the results can be catastrophic. Collisions throughout history have exposed flaws in safety technology and rail infrastructure – flaws that the designers of new trains are striving to eradicate.For French engineer François Lacôte, the man behind the revolutionary new AGV train, learning from past mistakes is an essential part of designing for the future. “We take into account all the events, incidents and accidents so that our new ideas can benefit from this experience,” he says. “We are constantly learning.”
The titans of city architecture for over a century, skyscrapers dominate urban landscapes throughout the world. No other building design so readily accommodates the voracious need for space in urban centres, but there can be a high price for this solution to overcrowded city life. Within such high and crowded structures, the consequences of engineering errors can be catastrophic.