The Industrial Applications of Steel in Tunnels

The Industrial Applications of Steel in TunnelsSteel is one of the most popular materials for construction work thanks to its durability, resistance to corrosion and affordability. Many structures use steel posts, such as bridges, commercial buildings, homes and even art pieces.

The applications of this fantastic material expand to building underground, such as with tunnels. Steel beams are crucial when digging tunnels because they keep the structure from collapsing, withstanding the test of time and the influence of potentially damaging external influences.

The Relationship between Steel and Tunnels

Before builders started using steel as a construction material, brickwork was the principal support for tunnels dug into soil or stone. Bricks were effective, but they took longer to make and did not provide the same level of durability.

Steel can be used for the support frame, walls and joints of tunnels. It is a popular material for tunnel building because it retains its durability over time without requiring much maintenance. Steel is fire-resistant, does not erode and remains strong in high-pressure environments.

What Is Tunnel Shoring?

Tunnel shoring is the process of supporting a structure that would otherwise collapse. Shoring is usually temporary and done during the initial phases of construction but can be permanent. Shoring is also a crucial step in excavation work and tunnel digging.

Shoring involves the placement of steel beams, concrete blocks and other supports against a collapsing or potentially risky wall or construction. Steel shoring is efficient and safe, with one of the most common methods involving using galvanized H-channel steel posts and concrete panels in a modular system.

Types of Tunnels

The vast majority of modern tunnels need steel reinforcement. Here are some of the most common examples:


Mine tunnels provide access to natural resources underground. The walls of mines are shored to keep the workers safe for the duration of the extraction.


A subway tunnel is an underground pathway for fast and efficient public transportation. Subway tunnels are present in many cities, often creating a network that can expand over several square miles.

Base Tunnels

Base tunnels traverse mountains or hills, connecting two valleys at the same altitude. The walls must support a lot of weight, and the tubes typically include emergency escape routes in case of hazard.


Bridge tunnels are tunnels built for water crossing, where bridges are not feasible. Some examples include connections in areas with a lot of sea activity, where there is the risk of ice forming during the winter, or nearby airports. In such cases, the roads can be connected through a bridge-tunnel.

The Best Steel for Tunnels

Tunnels are crucial in construction, mining, transportation and other industries. Building safe tunnels is a priority for constructors, and modern builds use the best methods available. Steel is an ideal construction material because of its durability, low maintenance and availability. RW Steel is a leading supplier of steel in Melbourne, offering high-quality beams and steel retaining wall posts. Contact us today to see how we can help with your steel needs!