The first of seven TBMs is launched for US$10 billion construction of Riyadh Metro Lines 1 and 2 (Blue and Green Lines).
Earlier this month (July) the BACS construction consortium led by Bechtel (USA), and including Almabani General Contractors (Saudi Arabia), Consolidated Contractors Company (Saudi Arabia), Siemens AG (Germany), with engineering design by AECOM (USA), launched one of four Herrenknecht multi-mode TBMs procured for the project.
The US$22.5 billion six-line Riyadh Metro is set to be the country’s first underground rail system and one of the largest in the world. The Bechtel-led consortium is responsible for the design, construction, train cars, signaling, electrification and integration of Lines 1 and 2, two of the most technically challenging lines on the whole of the Riyadh Metro project.
Scope includes construction of 39 stations – including key interchanges at Olaya Station, situated in the center of Riyadh at the intersection of Lines 1 (Blue Line) and 2 (Green Line); and King Abdullah Financial District Station, located slightly to the north on Line 1.
“The metro is set to be the cornerstone of Riyadh’s new public transport network and will revolutionize how people move around the city,” said Amjad Bangash, Bechtel’s Project Director. “Launch of our first TBM is a significant step for all involved in this project.”
Bangash said the tunneling work beneath the streets of the Saudi capital will prove challenging. “Getting early agreement on the alignment in the heart of the city was crucial to advance the detailed design work needed to start tunneling. We appreciate the efforts that our client, the Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA), and many other stakeholders undertook in helping us achieve this.”
The first tunnel boring machine, TBM Mneefah – named after the horse of Saudi Arabia’s founder King – will steadily ramp up to its planned average tunneling rate of approximately 100m/week, and is expected to complete its journey by mid-2016. In total, seven TBMs will be deployed by the Bechtel-led team for excavation of more than 17.5km of twin running tunnels across Lines 1 and 2.
Four of the machines, including the one that launched, are supplied by Herrenknecht of Germany. Tunnel segments will be produced in a factory that was designed and entirely set-up by Herrenknecht Formwork, which has also supplied 20 sets of segment moulds and associated handling equipment.
Riyadh is one of the world’s fastest-growing cities, with a population expected to increase by 50 percent to 7.5 million by 2035. The Riyadh Metro is part of a 25-year strategic plan prepared by the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh to accommodate this growth. When complete, the 176km, six-line driverless network will serve 400,000 passengers.
Bechtel has successfully delivered some of the largest and most complex rail projects in the world, including the Channel Tunnel, UK High Speed 1, the San Francisco BART system and the Athens Metro. The company is currently providing project management services on Crossrail in London, UK. It is also working on the Rio de Janeiro Metro in Brazil and the Toronto–York Spadina Subway Extension in Canada.