Chennai Metro – April 2016 Tunneling Update

The Chennai Metro Rail Ltd recently published their March 2016 newsletter with in-depth tunneling data recorded up till March 31 from all 5 ongoing tunnel sections of the first phase of the project! The original images embedded within this edition of the newsletter are extremely tiny, so I’ll be skipping over them this month. If you’re curious to see what they are like, 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 ongoing. The elevated and cut & cover sections of the project have been marked 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 Feb 29 Mar 31 TBMs
Up-line Washermenpet Egmore 4445m 3378m 3460m 2
Down-line Washermenpet Egmore 4445m 3145m 3222m 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.

• A TBM on the up-line tunnel was commissioned from Egmore towards Central station in December, and excavated a bulk of the 88m 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 77m 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. Earlier this month, Afcons & L&T were shortlisted to complete the tunneling and station works respectively. Work orders (contracts) are expected to be awarded by the end of April.

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 trial runs are expected to begin by May. In October 2015, the CMRL had used an OHE wagon to conduct a test run between the 2 km Thirumangalam Ramp and Anna Nagar Tower stations.

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. I now expect ground work to start in Q3 2016 and tunneling works to commence in Q2 2017, with operations on the entire 9 km extension starting in 2021 if no issues arise.

Overall, the project has 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 way things are going, I expect the entire 45.1 km Phase 1 (not including UAA08) to only be operational 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 in May and later extend it to Nehru Park, a total distance of 8 km . This section along with the Airport – Little Mount (8 km) and Alandur to St. Thomas Mount (1.5 km) are all set 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 on Chennai’s metro, check out the Chennai section of The Metro Rail Guy!


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Global traveler who prefers mass rapid transit

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