Chennai Metro – July 2016 Tunneling Update

This took a while to come through, but the Chennai Metro Rail Ltd. has finally published their June 2016 newsletter! Besides the progress made on the elevated section, the newsletter includes in-depth tunneling data recorded up till June 30 from all 5 ongoing tunnel sections of Chennai’s Metro project.

Let’s start off with some new images from both the upcoming underground and elevated sections:


Central ‘interchange’ station – Photo Copyright: CMRL


Central ‘interchange’ station – Photo Copyright: CMRL


Little Mount station – Photo Copyright: CMRL


Guindy station – Photo Copyright: CMRL


St. Thomas Mount station – Photo Copyright: CMRL

Check out the newsletter for more images.

Tunneling Update

For reference, here’s a map with all 6 underground sections of Phase 1 including the 9 km Phase 1 extension to Wimco Nagar. Barring UAA08 (in yellow) that has just been awarded to Afcons Infrastructure, 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 – Mannadi – High Court was completed in 2014.
• Since January, a total of 4 tunnels are 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 May 31 June 30 TBMs
Up-line Washermenpet Egmore 4445m 3558m 3641m 2
Down-line Washermenpet Egmore 4445m 3352m 3695m 2

Total Pending on June 30: 1554 meters

As per a tunneling expert working on the project:

• Both TBMs on the Egmore – Central stretch have roughly 490 meters more to go.

• Both TBMs on the High Court – Central stretch had encountered extremely difficult tunneling conditions earlier this year (which I wrote about in the previous updates) due to which operating both together in each other’s influence zone was no longer possible. As of July 22, TBM 1 has roughly 230m pending while TBM 2 has been lying idle 350m away from Central station since mid June.

UAA02 – In Progress

• 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.

• Since the Gammon fiasco, the CMRL had twice twice invited tenders from infrastructure companies to finish the balance tunneling & stations works. In April, it awarded L&T with a contract for the stations and in May finally awarded Afcons with the tunneling contract with a tight deadline of 10 months. I’m expecting tunneling works to resume around July-August.

• On July 22, Afcons restarted tunneling work using TBM S703 for the down-line tunnel. TBM S704 for the up-line tunnel is expected to restart in the second half of August.

UAA03 – Complete

• This section includes tunnels from AG-DMS to Saidapet with stations at Teynampet, Nandanam 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 2015. In December 2015, L&T was tasked with completing the balance civil work at all stations. Track work on this section is yet to begin.

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, systems installation, architectural & MEP work is going on. As of July 1, 10 out of 11 cross passages for safe & quick evacuation have been completed. Track work has been completed from Shenoy Nagar to Pachiyappa’s College and is currently in progress between Pachiyappa’s College & Egmore stations.

• On July 15, CMRL conducted a trial run up to Shenoy Nagar station which is officially the first time a train entered the UAA 04 section.

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 was completed in December 2014. 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 2016, CMRL’s contractors began installing platform screen doors and even shunted a metro train inside the tunnels for the first time.

• As of July 1, CMRL has been conducting regular trial runs throughout UAA 05’s section. Architectural, plastering & MEP works are in progress at all stations. Check out this video of Faiveley Transport Group conducting a manual test of the platform screen doors.

UAA08 – Contract Awarded

• 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. With the Ministry of Urban Development’s final approval for the 9 km extension to Wimco Nagar coming in earlier this month, the CMRL soon after awarded this new package to Afcons Infrastructure which consolidates their presence in all but the UAA04 project.

• On July 23,  India’s Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu and Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister Jayaraman Jayalalithaa unveiled the foundation stone for the 9 km Wimco Nagar section which includes the 2.4 km UAA 08 section. I’m expecting tunneling works to begin in Q2-Q3 2017 with operations starting in 2021.

Bottom Line

Overall, works have picked up in Chennai with the CMRL awarding all major pending civil contracts in May. In the coming months, I expect the CMRL to invite bids for the roughly 6.6 km elevated portion of the line from Tondiarpet to Wimco Nagar. Barring the 9 km extension to Wimco Nagar, I’m expecting the entire 45.1 km Phase 1 to only be operational in 2019/2020 as opposed to 2017 announced by Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister.

On the operations side of things, the CMRL is planning to open 3 sections by the end of this year:

Blue Line: Airport – Little Mount (8 km) – On May 21 & 22, the CMRL & Research Designs and Standards Organisation (RDSO) conducted oscillation trials & speed trials in order to obtain the mandatory speed certificate. The CMRS is likely to conduct a safety inspection of this section on July 28 (today!) & 29, and open this section in late August or September.

Green Line: Alandur – St. Thomas Mount (1.3 km) – The CMRL is yet to begin trial runs on this section despite the completion of track, OHE & system installation works. New images of St. Thomas Mount station can be viewed here. The CMRL has lately been awfully quite and hasn’t made any recent announcements, but I’m expecting trial runs to commence in August.

• Green Line: Koyambedu – Nehru Park (8 km) – Track work on this section has been completed with OHE & systems installations work in progress. In April, the CMRL shunted a train halfway through this underground section for the first time. In July, trial runs were extended to Shenoy Nagar, and in the coming months will be extended further east to Nehru Park. I’m expecting operations on this section to commence in Q1-Q2 2017. 

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


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