CONFERENCES Rail project focus at a packed STUVA 2013 Nov 2013
Armand van Wijck, TunnelTalk Europe Correspondent
With close to 1,600 delegates, a packed programme of technical and project presentations and updates, and a lively exhibition floor featuring 146 stands, STUVA 2013 in the Stuttgart Messe proved a big success. Organisers reported that delegates from 27 nations attended the biannual three-day event that is considered one of the highlights of the international tunnel conference calendar. Armand van Wijck of TunnelTalk selected some of the highlights for this special report.
- Every seat was taken in the large conference hall during the opening session of STUVA2013 in Stuttgart when Volker Kefer, board member of Deutsche Bahn, shared his experiences in developing Germany's flagship infrastructure project: Stuttgart 21. His address also featured thoughts and reflections on the Wendlingen-Ulm rail route, a 60km extension of the project to the south of Stuttgart that includes the 8.8km Bossler tunnel and the 4.8km Steinbuhl tunnel.
Nearly 1,600 delegates attended the 2013 STUVA event
- In a speech that resonated with the British contingent, as the UK this week launched a hybrid bill in Parliament that marks a critical stage for the first phase of its own High Speed 2 rail programme, Kefer pointed to the importance of interconnecting growing metropolises and the issue of dealing with strong protests against major infrastructure projects. A transparent communication strategy, said Kefer, has helped transform early and vigorous opposition to Stuttgart 21 into support. "We need to involve all stakeholders and we need them to act in concert," he told delegates.
Following the opening session, the biannual STUVA prize was awarded to engineer Georg-Michael Vavrovsky. Between 1989-2012 Vavrovsky was Board Chairman of the Eisenbahn-Hochstrecken AG/ ÖBB-Infrastruktur AG, working on the development of railways in Austria. According to the award panel, Vavrovsky "embarked on new paths and innovative solutions both in tunnelling and for tackling other geotechnical problems." Among others he is a pioneer in applying and utilising advances in measurement technology for better assessment of rock and system behaviour, and for dimensioning support measures in Austrian tunnelling. "Thanks to his developments, he contributed towards ensuring that tunnelling projects could be tackled more safely and economically," concluded the panel.
Large international projects
A major focus of the event's technical programme was the development of mega projects in Europe and elsewhere, and their particular challenges.
- Crossrail Chief Engineer Chris Dulake gave a short update about the London Crossrail Project. Dulake said tunnel construction had reached the halfway point, with 18 months of heavy civil engineering remaining. "As of this week about 25km of the 42km has been constructed. Lately we are at a construction speed of 70m-90m a day," he said. "The rolling stock is currently being procured. We are on course to deliver the project on time." Dulake particularly highlighted the sprayed concrete lining (SCL) construction, which has been adopted for five underground stations and for over 10km of mined tunnels. The majority of the SCL tunnels will be constructed in London Clay, but some will be in the water-bearing Lambeth Group. Significant temporary works, including presupport and depressurisation, have been designed for construction in and near the Lambeth Group. "The SCL design is based on the use of the primary lining as a permanent structure, including fibre reinforcement and minimising the use of bar reinforcement," Dulake explained. The design includes sprayed waterproofing membranes with a sprayed concrete secondary lining or sheet membranes.
Busy exhibition hall featuring 146 trade stands
- Dulake shared an anecdote with the audience to illustrate the importance that 3D mapping is playing in all Crossrail activity, showing a picture of an underground crew stumbling upon an old brick structure. "Half the time we do not know what was built before we came. In this case it turned out to be an old and disused water fountain. We ran an exclusion zone around the construction and managed to control and stabilise it as a permanent work." To prevent similar types of data and knowledge gaps hampering the progress of future construction projects, Crossrail is extensively using 3D animation mapping of the whole project as it progresses. "For instance, behind a 3D animation running through a station everything has an asset tag attached to it," explained Dulake while he ran the animation. "Maintainers can use their computer tablet to virtually take apart everything we have constructed here and know the complete construction history," he said.
- Other large projects like the Brenner base tunnel were also featured in discussions. Christoph Rudin, Branch Manager at HBI Haerter Consulting Engineers, showed the results of a simulation of temperature influences and aerodynamic effects of trains passing through the 55km long rail tunnel. Using the study data the impact on the tunnel inner lining temperature, and deformation, could be calculated. Comparison of this climate simulation programme with the existing RIL 853 guidelines for inner linings showed that the guidelines actually lead to a large degree of overprotection. "If the parameters of the guidelines were used the linings would need to be strengthened by 40% above the values we ascertained [as necessary] using our simulation," concluded Rudin. "This means that for certain large tunnel projects a specific definition of fatigue and pressure on the inner linings is important to keep everything as cost-effective as possible."
- Discussing the Austrian Koralm rail tunnel during the last presentation of the morning, Stephan Frodl of Strabag/Zentrale Technik highlighted the logistical requirements for creating the segmental linings for the 42 cross passages of the 32.9km twin tube tunnel. "We have tens of different types of lining systems, which means a very strong challenge in terms of logistics," said Frodl. Special software was therefore developed, covering all the data of the lining production. Bar codes are placed on the lining segments as well. "This way we can track what has been placed in the tunnel already," explained Frodl.
- Safety in tunnelling, the issues associated with building underground infrastructure in urban environments, and managing the concerns of civic participation, legal and contractual matters, and the costs of operating underground infrastructure were additional topics that received conference attention.
- The next STUVA conference and exhibition is planned for 2015. The venue and specific dates of the fixture will be confirmed in due course.
STUVA2013 Exhibition preview and locator - TunnelTalk, November 2013
STUVA 2011 explores a sustainable future - TunnelTalk, December 2011
HS2 hybrid bill launched in UK - TunnelTalk, November 2013
First TBM launched for Korlam rail tunnel - TunnelTalk, February 2013
SCL to create Crossrail junction caverns - TunnelTalk, September 2013
Crossrail nears excavation half-way landmark - TunnelTalk, September 2013
Herrenknecht EPBM for Stuttgart 21 link - TunnelTalk, August 2013
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