A JV of Acciona Infraestructuras SA (Spain) and Ghella SpA (Italy) is selected for the TBM tunnelling contract for the Oslo-Ski Follo Line railway project in Norway. Valued at NOK 8.7 billion (about US$1.2 billion), the EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) contract encompases 19km of hard rock, segmentally lined TBM excavation and all associated works including development of a large working site in Åsland and drill+blast of large assembly caverns located approximately 1km inside the mountain from where four TBMs of about 10m diameter will progress, two each in opposite directions, to complete twin parallel headings of approximately 10km each (Fig 1). The 1km long Åsland access tunnels are currently under construction under a separate preparatory contract.
After signing its contract with the Norwegian National Rail Administration in March 2015, the Acciona/Ghella JV has placed an order for supply of the four shielded rock TBMs for the 19km-long twin tube high-speed railway tunnels with Herrenknecht AG. Manufacture of the TBMs of approximately 10m diameter is progressing at the company’s main workshops at Schwanau in Germany and delivery to site is scheduled for summer next year (2016). TBM excavation is programmed to start by the end of that year and to continue for about two years towards the last holethrough to complete the total 38km of precast concrete segmentally lined rock TBM tunnelling.
Ahead of machine delivery, work started on site in June of this year and is progressing with Norwegian subcontractor AF Gruppen AS advancing the drill+blast intermediate access adit at Åsland and a TBM assembly and launch chamber on the axis of the main rail tunnel alignment. From there the four TBMs will complete the main tunnels, two TBMs working in each direction towards the portals of the twin tubes. Valued at about US$1.2 billion, the EPC contract with Acciona/Ghella (AGJV) is the largest contract awarded to date by Norway’s Rail Administration.
Further details of the TBM specifications, together with information about production of the segmental liner and plans for advancing this major rock TBM excavation project will be published next week following an interview with Director Giovanni Giacomin of JV partner Ghella.
The Acciona/Ghella JV will also complete all the railway system installations, with the exception of the signal system. All mechanical and electrical equipment in the tunnel will be installed in approximately half of the 44 emergency evacuation cross passages to be excavated between the parallel running tunnels.
This is the second of four large EPC contracts awarded for the project, following award last month (February 2015) of the NOK1.2 billion (US$156 million) EPC contract to Condotte SpA of Italy for complex drill+blast excavation of the route through Ekeberg Hill near Oslo. The project is currently the largest infrastructure project in Norway. The TBM excavation contract is scheduled for signing within the next three weeks and for work to commence immediately thereafter.
The magnitude of the project, and this contract, has attracted interest from major national and international contractors. “The competition has been extensive and the project has been well received,” said Deputy Director General of the Norwegian National Rail Administration, Gunnar G. Løvås.
“We are pleased that this important EPC contract for the Follo Line Project has been met with such large interest,” said Project Director Erik Smith. “The offers we have received and the possibility for us to nominate the JV indicates that the strategy and the terms of contract for this tunnel work are correct. The award value is within the project budget. As well as including the railway installations in an EPC contract of this size for the first time, this is the first railway tunnel contract in Norway to include the use of four TBMs.”
Along with Acciona/Ghella, five other groups prequalified to submit bids:
Acciona and Ghella have experience from previous cooperation in the performance of several similar mega tunnel and rail construction projects. In 2009 they completed the Italian Bolognia Junction High Speed Railway Line, and in 2015 they will complete the Way Legacy Motorway Tunnels in Brisbane, Australia. Both companies can demonstrate an industrial history through several generations and have their headquarters respectively in Madrid and Rome.
The joint venture has sourced key competence in Norway through the Norwegian departments of PEAB for groundwork development of the working area at Åsland; and Atkins for railway engineering expertise. Through the law firm Haavind, the JV will ensure that it fully understands and will comply with Norwegian employment rules and wage conditions.
Under a separate contract, the AF Group of Norway is preparing the working site at Åsland and excavating the two access adits to the TBM assembly and launch chambers in the mountain. Concrete segments for the TBM tunnelling lining will be cast in a production factory at Åsland and the access adids will be used for all incoming and outgoing traffic as well as transportation of excavated materials via continuous conveyor systems. They will also accommodate ventilation services during tunnel excavation.
A large transformer installation at Åsland will provide power for the TBM and construction operations.
In accordance with Norwegian and European public procurement legislation, a complaints period is allowed which, to reflect the size of the contract, has been set at 16 days.
The 22 km long Follo Line Project will provide a new double track line between Oslo Central Station and the public transport hub at Ski. The project includes 20km of twin tube rail running tunnels, extensive works at Oslo Central Station, construction of a new station at Ski, and necessary realignment of the existing inbound Østfold line. The Follo Line is scheduled for completion at the end of 2021 and forms the core part of InterCity development southwards from Oslo.
The mega project is executed by the Norwegian National Rail Administration (NNRA) on behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications.
Spanish company Obrascón Huarte Lain (OHL) is awarded the NOK 2.5 billion (US$310 million) contract to remodel Ski Station and construct 3.5km of overland alignment as part of the Oslo-Ski Follo Line railway project in Norway.
This week’s award by Norway’s National Rail Administration (Jernbaneverket) is the third of six large EPC contracts and follows award in March (2015) of the NOK 8.7 billion (US$1.2 billion) TBM tunnelling contract to the Acciona Infraestructuras SA (Spain)/Ghella SpA (Italy) JV; and of the the NOK 1.2 billion (US$156 million) Oslo approach drill+blast award to Condotte of Italy.
The project area for the EPC Ski contract is located about 25km south of Oslo, and covers the open section of railway between the southern tunnel portals near Langhus, and Ski – including a total reconstruction of Ski station. The Follo Line Project is currently the largest infrastructure project in Norway.
Five international bids were received, with OHL selected “based on an economical and project performance comparison.” Although the company has experience in delivering high-speed rail, the contract for the Follo Line Project at Ski will be the company's first enterprise in Norway.
“OHL serves our requirements for a competitive price, combined with extensive relevant experience,” said Erik Smith, Project Director for the Follo Line Project. “They have proven their ability for executing large projects in new markets, and their technical solutions meet all of our requirements; as do their highly competent and experienced personnel.”
Preparatory works ahead of the EPC Ski contract started at the beginning of 2014 and will be completed by the end of September this year, at which point construction will start on the main works contract.