Colossal tunnelling machines working overtime to complete Riyadh Metro on time, within budget

RIYADH, Aug 28, 2015 (BE2C2) — Construction on the multibillion-riyal Riyadh Metro is well under way with several giant thrust boring machines (TBMs) working overtime to ensure that underground tunnels for the project are completed on schedule.

Arab News - WORK IN FULL SWING: The construction site of Riyadh’s $22.5 billion metro system. (AFP)

WORK IN FULL SWING: The construction site of Riyadh’s $22.5 billion metro system. (AFP photo)

The Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA) conducted a tour of the operations for the media on Wednesday, 25 meters underground on the 1.6 km-long green line running along King Abdulaziz Road in the capital.

Journalists were able to see a tunnel boring machine in action on one of the three consortium projects whose total value exceed $22 billion.

Seven custom-built TBMs are currently being used to burrow beneath the Saudi capital as contractors construct six interconnecting lines to help carry commuters around the city.

The seven TBMs will create tunnels up to 35 km long at around 30 metres under the capital. The 178 km-long system will have 85 stations in total, including underground, ground level and elevated stations.

The overall design/build fast-track project is expected to be completed by 2018.

The journalists were accompanied by Al-Waleed bin Abdulrahman Al-Ekresh, director general of the ADA for development and integrated utilities, who briefed the media on the operation covering the two parts of the project — the metro and the public buses.

The machines used to carve out the tunnels also line the walls with concrete as they move along, and include safety and air-conditioning systems and the automatic processing lines that carry away waste material.

Each of the seven gigantic machines are able to dig away daily 50 truckloads of dirt. Each machine weighs about 2,000 tons, the equivalent of four 747 jets with full cargo, according to Arab News.

The metro project is expected to create about 15,000 jobs in Saudi Arabia, reported Construction Week Online.

It is part of a 25-year strategic plan prepared by the High Commission for the Development of Arriyadh to cater to Riyadh’s fast growing population, expected to increase 50 per cent by 2035 to 7.5m.

The Saudi Arabian government awarded contracts worth $22.5bn to three foreign-led consortia for the design and construction of the metro in July 2013.

In September last year, Saudi Electricity Co also signed contracts worth $682.5m to supply power to the metro.

When ready, the Riyadh Metro will be the country’s first underground rail system and one of the largest in the world. The 176km six-line driverless network is anticipated to serve 400,000 passengers through 85 stations.

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