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The ‘Old’ Beacon Hill Tunnel was constructed through granite from 1906 to 1910 as part of the Kowloon Canton Railway in the then British colony of Hong Kong. It was the first railway tunnel to be constructed in this region and, at 2.2 km long, longer than any Chinese railway tunnel. Prior to Japanese occupation in December 1941, the British detonated charges to collapse the tunnel to deny its use as an invasion route. Following Japanese defeat in 1945 and return to British government, the tunnel was re-excavated and the damaged sections were supported using steel arches based on Terzaghi’s rock mass classification system, which uses geological descriptions to classify loading onto arched tunnel supports. The railway was subsequently realigned during the 1980s and placed in a new tunnel running alongside and west of the ‘Old’ Beacon Hill Tunnel, which was converted to accommodate a pipeline connecting gas supplies. Ground investigations implemented after return of the territory to Chinese sovereignty in July 1997 established that groundwater flow and tunnel stability were influenced by a dyke within the granite, joint set orientation, faulting and weathering as well as the wartime detonations.

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