Chennai Metro – May 2016 Tunneling Update

The Chennai Metro Rail Ltd just published their April 2016 newsletter with in-depth tunneling data recorded up till April 31 from all 5 ongoing tunnel sections of the first phase of the project! Like the previous couple of newsletters, the original images embedded within this edition are extremely tiny, so I’ll be skipping over them this month as well. If you’re curious to see what they’re like, then check out the above link.

Photo Copyright: Jurgen Mick

A Chennai Metro tunnel on the UAA01 section – Photo Copyright: Jurgen Mick

Tunneling Update

For reference, here’s a map with all 6 underground sections of the 1st phase of the Chennai Metro project. Barring UAA08 (in yellow) that was just approved in December, the rest are ‘in progress’. The elevated and cut & cover sections of the project have been displayed in grey.

Red: UAA01 ; Blue: UAA02; Green: UAA03

Chennai Metro Map: Red: UAA01, Green: UAA02, Magenta: UAA03, Blue: UAA04, Purple:UAA05, Grey: Elevated & CC

UAA01 – In Progress

• This section includes tunnels from Washermenpet to Egmore and from May Day Park to Central with stations at Egmore, Chennai Central, May Day Park, High Court, Mannadi & Washermenpet.
• Tunneling by the Afcons-Transtonnelstroy JV between Washermenpet & High Court was completed in 2014.
• A total of 4 tunnels are now left to be constructed between Egmore – Central – High Court stations. The progress of the pending tunneling works can be gauged by the table below.

Tunnel Station Station Distance Mar 31 April 31 TBMs
Up-line Washermenpet Egmore 4445m 3460m 3558 2
Down-line Washermenpet Egmore 4445m 3222m 3352 2

• Since the January update, only 1 TBM breakthrough has taken place at Central station for Line 1’s down-line tunnel between May Day Park shaft and Central station. Although the CMRL did not highlight this breakthrough in the newsletter or on their Facebook page, they have updated their tunneling table to reflect 100% completion for this tunnel built by ‘TBM 3’.

• A TBM on the up-line tunnel was commissioned from Egmore towards Central station in December, and excavated a bulk of the 98m progress reported for the up-line. In March, a second TBM was commissioned for the down-line between Egmore & Central which again accounted for a bulk of the 130m of progress. Check out some images of both TBMs being prepared.

• Both TBMs working from the High Court towards Central station have encountered hard rock and need frequent interventions to change their cutting discs. Back in January, the contractor was looking to complete both twin tunnels by June 2016 but now that will not be possible.

UAA02 – On Hold

• This section includes tunnels from May Day Park to AG-DMS with stations at Government Estate, LIC, Thousand Lights and AG-DMS.

• The Gammon-Mosmetrostroy JV had abandoned tunneling work in May 2015 and out of 3616m of twin tunnels, it has only completed building 1835m and 1700m long tunnels.

• The CMRL has since twice invited tenders from infrastructure companies and is yet award the contract for completing the balance tunneling and station work. In April, Afcons & L&T were shortlisted to complete the tunneling and station works respectively. Work orders (contracts) were expected to be awarded by the end of April, but have been delayed with various sources pointing to the state legislative assembly elections scheduled to take place next week.

UAA03 – Complete

• This section includes tunnels from AG-DMS to Saidapet with stations at Teynampet, Nadanam and Saidapet.

• The Gammon-Mosmetrostroy JV had abandoned tunneling work in May after which Afcons Infra was temporarily roped in to complete the last breakthrough in September. Recently, L&T was tasked with completing the balance civil work at all stations.

UAA04 – Complete

• This section includes tunnels from Egmore to Shenoy Nagar with stations at Nehru Park, Kilpauk and Pachaiyappa’s College. Tunneling work by the L&T-SUCG JV has been completed and currently track work & systems installation work is going on.

UAA05 – Complete

• This section includes tunnels from Shenoy Nagar to Thirumangalam with stations at Shenoy Nagar, Anna Nagar East, Anna Nagar Tower and Thirumangalam. Tunneling work by the Afcons-Transtonnelstroy JV has been completed and in October 2015, the CMRL used an OHE wagon to conduct a test run between the 2 km Thirumangalam Ramp and Anna Nagar Tower stations. In April, CMRL’s contractors began installing platform screen doors and even shunted a metro train inside the tunnels for the first time – see details & images here.

UAA08 – Yet to Begin

In December 2015, the CMRL invited tenders to construct this 2.4 km underground section from Washermenpet to Korrukupet with stations at Sir Theagaraya College and Korrukupet. This section is part of the 9 km extension from Washermenpet to Wimco Nagar that was approved by the Ministry of Urban Development in early December 2015. The bids were opened on February 4 and a contractor was expected to be assigned in February but still has not been assigned with various sources pointing towards the state legislative elections scheduled to take place next week. If the contract is awarded this month, then ground work can be expected to start in Q3 2016 and tunneling works in Q2 2017, with operations on the entire 9 km extension starting in 2021 with the standard disclaimer of no major new issues.

Overall, tunneling works have picked up pace since the March update with the 2nd TBM now commissioned from Egmore. Prior to this, the project had slowed down considerably due to the fiasco involving Gammon-Mosmetrostroy and the crazy rains of November-December that required a redesign at certain places. The delay in awarding UAA02 and UAA08’s contracts is worrisome and the way things are going, I expect the entire 45.1 km Phase 1 (not including UAA08) to only be operational only in 2019/2020.

On the operations side of things, with tunneling work completed on UAA-04 and UAA-05, the CMRL plans to start trial runs between Thirumangalam and Shenoy Nagar this month and later extend it to Nehru Park, a total distance of 8 km. Last month, CMRL in fact shunted a train halfway through this underground section for the first time. A team from RDSO will be visiting Chennai next week to inspect the 8 km Airport – Little Mount section in order to grant the required Speed Certificate. These 2 sections along with the smaller 1.5 km Alandur – St. Thomas Mount section are scheduled to start operations by the end of this year which will add 17.5 km of metro routes to the existing 10 km route between Koyambedu and Alandur.

For more updates, check out the Chennai section of The Metro Rail Guy!


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