Norway talks TBMs in countdown to WTC 2017 10 Jun 2016

Patrick Reynolds for TunnelTalk

More than 130 delegates and exhibitors gathered at the successful TBM Applications II conference in Norway, a country which has seen a recent resurgence in mechanised excavation following an absence of some 30 years.

Varied program at TBM Applications Conference in Bergen
Varied program at TBM Applications Conference in Bergen

Organised by the Norwegian Tunnelling Society over two days, the packed programme featured a wide range of presentations from the national road and rail authorities and other agencies, plus contractors, consultants and manufacturers.

With the surge in TBM activity after a long lull since the early 1990s, delegates heard contractors give briefings of a range of projects in Norway. Attendees also benefited from the major engagement from two key clients of tunnelling projects – Statens Vegvesen (the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, NPRA), and Jernbanevervet (the Norwegian National Rail Administration).

The key projects in Norway under discussion included:

  • contractor LNS presenting on the recently completed boring at Nedre Røssåga hydro project with a Robbins TBM;
  • the Skanska/Strabag JV describing boring getting under way at the New Ulriken rail tunnel with a Herrenknecht machine, only a relatively short distance from the conference venue;
  • the Acciona/Ghella JV and Jernbanevervet detailing upcoming tunnelling works for the Follo Line rail tunnel project in Oslo using four Herrenknecht double shields that are due to be launched later this year (2016).
LNS TBM breakthrough celebrations at Røssåga
LNS TBM breakthrough celebrations at Røssåga

As a measure of its commitment to providing the industry with international coverage of events, a TunnelTalk video crew was in attendance last week at the Follo Line TBM acceptance ceremony in Germany for the last of the four machines that will be used to excavate 20km of mechanised headings for that project.

Robbins and Herrenknecht presented their latest developments in TBMs, including also long distance experience and utility-sized technology; representatives from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and Sintef, and consultant Nick Barton, discussed development in research; the technology’s stance against drill+blast excavation was reflected upon and probed; there was an interesting discussion around data acquisition in TBM tunnels by Babendererde Engineers; and, discussion on horizontal raise boring activities was presented.

From outside Norway were presentations that included a review of the tunnelling challenges over the years at the Gotthard rail tunnel, which was officially opened only days before, on 1 June in Switzerland; TBM experience at the Koralm rail tunnel project, in Austria; and, plans for the Anneberg-Skanstull project in Stockholm.

Looking ahead for Norway, there was much interest in further extensive tunnelling works that could be in the pipeline for Oslo for transportation, but also to tackle the city’s long-term need for a more robust water supply system.

Statens Vegvesen wrapped up the main proceedings with a discussion around the possibilities for TBM use in future road tunnels as the authority develops the E39 coastal highway. Presently, major drill+blast work is under way around Stavanger.

Bergen in Norway to host WTC2017 in June
Bergen in Norway to host WTC2017 in June

TBM Applications II takes place with only a year left until the nation’s proud tunnelling community and its clients – and the west coast city of Bergen, too, at a time of very long summer daylight hours – will together play host to the international underground construction industry at WTC2017 in June next year.

Amid the many discussions of work under way and the possibilities to come, the event carried an underlying buzz for 2017, and with a sense of the clock ticking.

“We expect around 1,500 participants from all over the world,” said Heidi Berg, chair of the Executive Organising Committee and a recent Past President of the Norwegian Tunnelling Society. Judging by levels of interest in sponsorship and the early take-up of exhibition space, “interest is great for the event,” she added. Prof Eivind Grøv (Norway) will chair the International Advisory Committee for WTC 2017; and, Prof Bjørn Nilsen (Norway) is leading the Scientific Committee.

So, with 2017 in mind, the TBM Applications II conference concluded with a call for more abstracts to be submitted for WTC2017 by the upcoming deadline of 1 July. These can be submitted at

Norway has had, and will continue to have, a strong future and high reputation in underground excavation, and it is fitting that next year the WTC will gather in Norway to hear about the latest activity in this market, as well as sharing international experiences.

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