Breakthrough for Belgium's largest transport project
On May 16, tunnel constructors celebrated breakthrough in the first tunnel for freight trains in the area of the Antwerp seaport after only 11 months. The "Liefkenshoek Rail Link Project (LHSV)" is currently the largest infrastructure project in Belgium. The S-532 TBM is expected to reach its target shaft in the second tube at the end of July. Global Tunnelling Experts congratulates all involved for the successful breakthrough and the very good tunnelling performance of the S-533 Mixshield of up to 230 meters a week.
The Antwerp seaport has an annual volume of 7.5 million containers and is used very intensively. The railway project was initiated, because growing traffic flows are expected for this area in the future.
The biggest challenge for the TBM was to cross beneath the Schelde River and the canal dock, because overburdens amounted to 1.1 meters in some parts. In addition, a certain water level had to be maintained in the dock at all times during tunnelling to allow furthermore passage for large containerships.
The completion of the two parallel tunnels is planned for 2013. The tunnel will connect the left and right-hand bank of the Schelde for freight train traffic. Trains may then commute without having to leave the port area. Operating costs for trains will also decrease, since the railway route between the larger locations on the left and the right-hand banks will be reduced by around 22km.
From 2009 to 2011, 54 tunnel experts from Global Tunnelling Experts worked on the Antwerp construction site. They supplied TBM yard foremen, TBM operators, ring builders, fitters, PLC electricians, loco operators, backup personell and cross passage miners for the railway project. For the first time, hyperbaric airlock operators and hyperbaric divers were also employed. They belong to Global Tunnelling Experts' new "Hyperbaric Service" which supplies skilled specialists who work under overpressure in airlocks for tunnel construction. These include not only airlock attendants, but also hyperbaric supervisors, diver medical technicians (DMTs) and divers. Moreover, GTE rents out mobile airlocks.
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Achim Kühn, Herrenknecht AG
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