Tunnel Boring Machine For ECRL Project Arrives From China


Excavation Works for Genting Tunnel to Commence in 4Q 2021 

Port Klang, 9 July 2021: The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project celebrates a major milestone – the arrival of the first of two tunnel boring machines (TBMs) as per schedule after extensive factory tests in China. 

The TBMs were custom-made for use in hard rock condition and equipped with 4 torque cylinders. Each TBM Head weighs about 900 tons with 25m in length and 8.98m in diameter. Together with its back-support system that houses the control room and substation, it weighs a massive 1,600 tons and measures 266m in length, making them amongst the largest TBMs for rail tunnel excavation in Malaysia. 

Manufactured by CCCC Tianhe Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing Co Ltd in Shanghai, China, the TBMs had also cleared its Factory Acceptance Test (FAT), prior to being dismantled into 286 packages and started their direct sailing on 25 June 2021 from the Port of Shanghai and arrived Port Klang on 4 July 2021. The largest of these packages is the Forward Main Beam which transportation size weighs 135 tons, 9.3m in length, 3.7m in width and 4.6m in height. 

Over the next 4 days, a convoy of trucks and low loader will transport the TBM from Northport to Bentong, Pahang, via the Karak Highway or alternative route passing through Tampin in Negeri Sembilan and Muadzam Shah in Pahang for the oversized cargoes. 

The TBM will be reassembled at the project’s Engineering, Procurement, Construction, and Commissioning (EPCC) contractor China Communications Construction (ECRL) Sdn Bhd’s (CCC-ECRL) site and undergo further testing before it starts its Genting Tunnel excavation works in the fourth quarter of this year. 

Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) Chairman, Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali, said the ECRL project has entered a new chapter with the delivery of the TBM to spearhead the excavation works for the 16.39 km twin-bore Genting Tunnel between Bentong and Gombak, adding that the delivery bodes well with the decision of the Cabinet Meeting on 2 September 2020 that approved the ECRL Section C to revert to its original alignment of Temerloh – Gombak – Serendah – Port Klang. 

“The ECRL project is appreciative that the China made TBM with state-of-the-art technology has been produced and delivered by CCCC as per schedule. We are optimistic that this high-end machine is able to face the engineering challenges and geological conditions when tunnelling across the Titiwangsa Range,” he noted. 

Tan Sri Zuki also said it is crucial to start excavation works for Genting Tunnel at the soonest as it is a key component of the ECRL project that will complete the land bridge for freight transportation from Kuantan Port to Port Klang as well as directly link commuters from the East Coast states to Gombak which is a familiar gateway to the federal capital. 

MRL Chief Executive Officer, Dato’ Sri Darwis Abdul Razak, said the delivery of the TBM is a huge step forward for ECRL’s Section C (Temerloh – Gombak – Serendah – Port Klang) as it will be used to bore through the hilly terrain along the Bukit Tinggi area to facilitate the construction of the 16.39 km twin-bore ECRL Genting Tunnel. 

“MRL is pleased that the technologically advanced TBM has been thoroughly tested and passed its Factory Acceptance Test (FAT) prior to leaving China. Our technical team that had inspected the TBM at the CCCC plant in Shanghai is also confident that this giant machine is able to perform the task it is specifically designed for,” he said. 

“The Genting Tunnel will be the first ECRL tunnel that will be excavated using the TBM method as compared to the drill and blast method used on the project’s existing tunnels. Rest assured, the ECRL team is experience and all geared up to operate the TBM to excavate what will be Malaysia’s longest rail tunnel upon completion,” Dato’ Sri Darwis added. 

At the maximum excavation capacity of 700m per month, the TBM will be performing 3 main tasks underground: excavating the tunnel, transporting tons of excavated spoil to the surface, and installing the concrete panels that will line the tunnel. It is expected for the TBM to take about 3 years to bore through the Genting Tunnel. 

Meanwhile, CCC-ECRL’s Managing Director Bai Yinzhan said that the arrival of TBM signals more intensified activities for the project. 

“In anticipation of the TBM arrival, we are increasing our headcount in Section 7 in Bentong for numerous management and non-management positions such as foremen and crane operators. As we move forward, our plan is to engage more local workforce and create job opportunities for the communities along the alignment. Our team is ready and is looking forward to the TBM’s commissioning in the coming months,” said Bai. 

Commenting on the TBM’s arrival, Northport (Malaysia) Bhd Chief Executive Officer Dato’ Azman Shah Mohd Yusof said: “The handling of project cargo requires special attention, careful assessment and detailed planning throughout the entire process as it involves many factors to be considered to ensure a safe and successful operation. For Northport, the handling of ECRL’s TBM is considered an important and critical operation as it is of national interest. Hence, we have mobilized an optimum number of our skilled and competent conventional cargo workers for this operation, to ensure the safe handling of the cargo while at the same time maintaining our port productivity. Northport is extremely proud and honoured to be part of this important shipment.” 

MRL, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Minister of Finance Incorporated (MOF Inc.), is the project and asset owner of the ECRL while CCC-ECRL is the EPCC contractor. Scheduled for completion by December 2026, the 665-km ECRL will traverse the East Coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu, and Pahang before linking the Klang Valley on the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The ECRL will significantly cut travel time and connect Kota Bharu with ITT Gombak in approximately 4 hours.

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