TBMs complete Red Line of Tel Aviv Metro 27 Sep 2018

TunnelTalk Reporting

The last of six EPBMs supplied by Chinese manufacturer CREG made a final breakthrough on the western segment of the Red Line on the Tel Aviv Light Rail in Israel on 20 September marking the end of excavation on the 11km twin running tunnels.

The last of six TBMs makes a breakthrough at Carlibach Station
The last of six TBMs makes a breakthrough at Carlibach Station

The contract for the western segment of the Red Line was awarded in May 2015 to the Chinese-Israeli JV comprising the China Railway Tunnel Group (51%) and the Solel Boneh Infrastructure subsidiary of Shikun & Binui Group (49%). The Red Line will be the backbone of the mass transit system in Tel Aviv, and will pass through the most congested regions of the metropolitan area, serving the greatest number of passengers when compared with future lines to be constructed in the transit vision of the NTA (National Transit Authority).

The alignment passes through the Kurkar Formation, an Aeolian quartz sandstone with carbonate cement. Settlement control was a point of concern as the TBMs are required to pass under the Igudan utility lines, the Ayalon Highway, the Ayalon River, a main railway, the Shafa Tal Bridge and the dense urban area of Herzel with many historic buildings.

To cope with ground conditions, the EPBMs were designed specifically by CREG for the contract. Design features included a 1,600kW VFD electric-driven cutterhead with breakout torque up to 14,000kNm, up to 40 interchangeable cutting tools on the cutterhead with 17in disc cutters, active articulation for the shield, and a built-in two-part annular backfilling system at the tail of the machine. For muck hauling in the highly congested areas of Herzel, CREG supplied its first continuous conveyor and vertical conveyor system for the project. In addition, CREG established a local stock for spare parts supply and dispatched a professional service team to train the local workers and render technical assistance.

Fig 1. Red Line is first of eight lines planned for Tel Aviv Metro
Fig 1. Red Line is first of eight lines planned for Tel Aviv Metro
Fig 2. Pre-qualification is invited for the Green and Purple Lines
Fig 2. Pre-qualification is invited for the Green and Purple Lines

Speaking at the breakthrough ceremony Zhuo Yongjun, General Manager of CREG International Division said: “As the TBM supplier, CREG is proud that we could have contributed an important part to the success of this landmark project. Our TBM designers carried out site investigations and had discussions with all parties, especially on how to deal with the Kurkar Formation and other challenging points on this project. A customised design was applied to our six TBMs using our know-how and proven design experience on previous projects. We know that a customised design and quality machine means half the success of a project. The final breakthrough has shown not only the success of our TBM performance, but also a success of great teamwork.”

Also at the ceremony, Anthony Burchell, Project Director for the Parsons Brinckerhoff Project Management team for the Red Line, said: “I am impressed by the work of CREG, the cutterhead design and the reliability of the machines.”

Project Manager Gu Zhonghua of Joint venture added: “With the joint efforts of the project team and the technical service team of CREG, all of the six machines finished tunnelling successfully and with an average machine availability of more than 93%. The best daily rate was 21m or 14 rings, and the best monthly rate was 340m (225 rings). With this TBM performance, the tunnel construction is within the expected time.”

The Red Line, with 10 stations at about 1km intervals on the underground alignment, is the first of a total of eight lines planned for the Tel Aviv Metro. By 2030, when the city caps its rail transit system, it is estimated that a total of 1.4 million citizens will take the metro each day. Tel Aviv accounts for about 40% of the population of Israel and half of the country’s employment.

Following successful completion of the Red Line, an invitation has been released for participation in pre-qualification tenders for the Green and Purple Lines of the network. The 39km long Green Line with 62 stations includes a 4.5km long underground section to link four underground stations. The 29km long Purple Line with 45 stations is all at grade or elevated.

Both lines will be implemented under a PPP (public private partnership) scheme and under design-build-finance-maintain procurement strategy. Risk allocation under Israeli PPP projects follows international practices and in addition, the Government offers attractive risk sharing mechanisms, with the option for payments to be indexed to main macro-economic factors.

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