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Chennai Metro floats tender for tough tunnelling

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Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) invited firms to bid for construction of twin tunnels and five underground stations between Kolathur and Nathamuni. This seen as one of the toughest and challenging stretches in phase-2 due to the rocky soil conditions.

The stretch of around 5.8km includes the only underground section in corridor-5 from Madhavaram to Sholinganallur. This 11th tender floated for the construction of 118.9km phase-2. Construction for the phase expected to begin by mid-2021 with CMRL likely to start building the elevated line between Porur and Poonamallee bypass. The phase expected to be ready by 2026.

The stations planned at Kolathur, Srinivasa Nagar, Villivakkam suburban station, Villivakkam bus-terminus and Nathamuni. The contractor will build entry-exit points of the stations, ventilation shafts, architectural finishes and more. The deadline for the work given for around four years.

CMRL identified the line from Kolathur to Nathamuni as one of the two toughest stretches in phase-2. This due to its soil conditions which primarily hard rocks like black granite or a mix of quartz or charnockite. The condition could pose an engineering challenge as the tunnel boring machines operated at an appropriate speed – even as slow as below 8m a day – to keep vibrations it may cause to a minimum because it may otherwise affect the buildings above. Tunnels in this stretch at a depth of 15m to 21m.

CMRL devised a few strategies for faster construction of phase-2 including launching and retrieving TBMs between two consecutive stations. This instead of tunnelling long stretches, to prevent delay in one stretch affecting other lines.

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