Singapore and Malaysia hungry for TBMs 24 Jul 2013
Peter Kenyon, TunnelTalk
As TBM excavation of the third and final phase of Singapore's 41km Downtown Line ramps up (DTL3), the island state's Land Transport Authority (LTA) is preparing to award a new wave of tunnel and station contracts for the 30km-long north-south Thomson Line.
Fig 1. Thomson Line contract rollout expected 2013

Fig 1. Thomson Line contract rollout expected 2013

Prequalifiers for the 22-station all-underground twin bore line are currently at the bidding stage, with the first wave of construction awards expected before the end of this year (2013). A three-phase excavation schedule will see the first three-station section (Woodlands North-Woodlands South) complete by 2019, the second six-station section (Springleaf-Caldecott) complete by 2020, and the final 13-station stretch (Mount Pleasant-Gardens by the Bay) complete by 2021 (Fig 1).
Announcement is also made of a new 50km Cross Island Line - further details of which will be unveiled in the revised Singapore LTA Transport Plan due for release later this year (2013, Fig 2). Early obstacles are likely to be the alignment running through a nature reserve in the centre of the island, which may call for a tunnel solution.
It has also emerged this week in the Malaysian Parliament that a technical engineering and feasibility study of the proposed high-speed rail link between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore is likely to be released by the end of this month (July 2013).
That plan would involve a possible tunnel crossing of the Johor Strait between Malaysia and Singapore, and a consortium of AECOM Singapore, AECOM Perunding and SA Architects of Singapore are currently carrying out a US$42 million engineering study on behalf of Malaysia's Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and Singapore's LTA.
Singapore and Malaysia are ordering TBMs in ever-increasing numbers as they develop a number of high-profile infrastructure projects. Malaysia has commenced construction of the 9.5km-long tunnelled section of the Klang Valley MRT in Kuala Lumpur using 10 TBMs (eight from Herrenknecht, including six of the new-design variable density TBM specially designed for the karstic limestone ground conditions, and two EPBMs from China Railway Tunnel Equipment Company (CREC). A second east-west Line 2 is in early planning stages.
  • Cross Island Line and other planned rail routes

  • Fig 3. Downtown Line in a third construction phase

A total of 29 machines (including 12 from Herrenknecht and six from Robbins) are slated to work on the 21km-long 16-station third phase of Singapore's Downtown Line (DTL3, Fig 3), the first of which went into the ground in July last year (2012). Tunnelling activity is expected to last until August 2014 with the line scheduled to become operational by 2017. Challenges include excavation through very soft ground and marine clay, and the need in some confined locations to 'stack' tunnels on top of one another.
This is in addition to the 19 TBMs that have either completed, or are in the process of completing, drives for the 16.6km-long 12-station second phase (DTL2), excavation of which began in July 2011. The first phase of construction (DTL1) is complete, with the line expected to become operational later this year.
On top of the multitude of transportation infrastructure projects in Singapore, a further 10 machines will also be needed to excavate a 35km network of north-south and east-west cable tunnels, contracts for which have already been awarded in five construction packages that together are valued at US$1.25 billion.
Table 1. Contract awards for Singapore DTL3 (February 2011 - August 2011)
Contract No.
S$ value
Scope of works Contractor Supervising consultant
$211.5 million
Expo Station and overrun tunnel Samsung C&T Parsons Brinckerhoff
$257 million
Upper Changi Station and tunnels Samsung C&T Parsons Brinckerhoff
$91 million
Tunnels between Tampines East Station and Upper Changi Station Shanghai Tunnel Engineering Co. (China) LYL Consultants
$209 million
Tampines East Station and tunnels GS Engineering & Construction (Korea) LYL Consultants
$118.5 million
Tampines Station KTC Civil Engineering & Construction LYL Consultants
$227 million
Tampines West Station And tunnels CMC di Ravenna (Italy) CPG Consultants
$196.5 million
Bedok Reservoir Station And tunnels CMC di Ravenna (Italy) CPG Consultants
$268.7 million
Bedok Town Park Station and associated tunnels Sato Kogyo ECAS-EJ Consultants
$94 million
Kaki Bukit Station China State Construction Engineering Tritech Consultants
$211.7 million
Tunnels between Ubi and Kaki Bukit Stations and reception tunnels Nishimatsu Construction ECAS-EJ Consultants
$161.7 million
Ubi Station and associated tunnels SK Engineering & Construction (Korea) Tritech Consultants
$188 million
MacPherson Station and associated Tunnels Hyundai Engineering & Construction R.J. Crocker Consultants
$200 million
Mattar Station and associated tunnels Sato Kogyo R.J. Crocker Consultants
$123 million
Geylang Bahru Station China State Construction Engineering AECOM Singapore
$215 million
Bendemeer Station and associated Tunnels Penta-Ocean Construction Tritech Consultants
$171.5 million
Jalan Besar Station And associated tunnels Leighton/John Holland JV GWC Consultants
$177.5 million
Bencoolen Station Sato Kogyo GWC Consultants
$255 million
Fort Canning (River Valley) Station and associated Tunnels GS Engineering & Construction (Korea) Camp Dresser & McKee International
937D Supply and installation of tunnel ventilation and environmental control systems Samsung C&T/Bintai Kindenko JV
978D Supply and installation of fire protection systems Deluge Fire Protection (SEA)

Note 1: Instrumentation and monitoring services: Ryobi Geotechnique International (937); CPG Consultants (935/936); Tritech Engineering & Testing (933/922/923/ 926/927); GeoApplication Engineers (932A); Soil & Foundation (931/932); CPG Laboratories (923A/925/925A)

Tunnel option for Malaysia-Singapore link - TunnelTalk, May 2012
Singapore awards 35km cable tunnels - TunnelTalk, September 2012
First of six Robbins EPBMs set in Singapore - TunnelTalk, September 2012
First TBM launch on Klang Valley MRT - TunnelTalk, June 2013

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