Keeping the Nice Sea Outfall Straight and True

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The Albvorland Tunnel is 8.1 km long and is part of Section 2.1 A/B of the Alb Foothills Connection to Stuttgart Rail Node project and comprises a twin bore of two single-track tunnels running almost on the same level. The site is part of one of the largest construction projects currently underway in Germany.

The two LDT (Large Diameter Tunnelling) single track drives were driven using Herrenknecht EPB machines to a diameter of 10.82 m by contractor Implenia. Both the tunnels had in the design minimum bend radii of 3,986 m. Tunnelling works started in October 2017 with the final breakthrough of the second tunnel occurring in October 2019 with a peak performance in advance of up to 200 m per week.

Supporting the tunnelling equipment, VMT provided several product lines including:

Whilst most of these products have a well-established reputation in the tunnelling industry, one the VMT’s major challenges for the Stuttgart-Ulm project was the development of the automated RCMS product. With the site close to VMT’s main offices, there was the advantage, that during development and with the close cooperation of the client and contractor, VMT was able to field test various hardware and software aspects of the product during the development phases.

This was advantageous to both parties in that VMT has made developments to its basic product that are now applicable to segmental tunnelling projects worldwide and the Stuttgart client and contractor have precisely the right product that suits their requirements for the future operation of the tunnels.

According to Dipl.-Ing. Thomas Unterfeld, Measurement Coordinator for Implenia Construction GmbH Tiefbau – Tunnelbau Deutschland: “We were extremely pleased with the modifications to the basic RCMS system provided by VMT to ensure our system fitted our purpose exactly. Would we use RCMS again? Yes, most definitely, particularly as it would partner us again with the VMT team.”

At a Glance Fact Sheet:

Project Name or Designation/Timescale NBS Ulm-Wendlingen Albvorlandtunnel
Location Kirchheim u.T., Germany
Project requirement
Technique LDT, single shield, EPB
Diameter/Length/Bend Radius 10,82 m; 2 x 8,1 km; min.Radius 3986 m
VMT System utilised TUnIS Navigation TBMLaser
TUnIS Navigation Office
TUnIS Ring Sequencing
Challenges Development of new RCMS. Special and specific jobsite requirements were implemented quickly from VMT.

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The S21 Stuttgart–Ulm rail project involves the complete restructuring of the Stuttgart rail hub plus the construction of a new line between Wendlingen and Ulm. It is the largest upgrading project for public rail transport in Baden-Württemberg region since the 19th century and is currently one of the largest construction projects in Germany.

As part of this construction project the Fildertunnel forms a twin bore rail tunnel where mechanized excavation started in 2014 utilising a Herrenknecht Multi-mode TBM with a diameter of 10.82 m.

The twin bore comprised the tunnelling of two 9.5 km long tunnels with included curves of minimum radius 2,300 m.

Work first started on the Fildertunnel in November 2014. Tunnelling was completed in four sections with the first breakthrough occurring in November 2015, the second in July 2017, the third in July 2018 and the final breakthrough occurring in September 2019.

TBM guidance throughout the various tunnelling sections of the project was provided and supported by VMT, which has its offices close to the project site. The VMT navigation used for the project was the TUnIS Navigation TBMLaser system. Based on a total station and a target unit installed within the TBM shield, it determines the current advance position. Even for segment machines using a small or limited laser window, the machine position is continuously calculated during short-term interruptions. TUnIS Navigation TBMLaser offers high reliability since it provides temporary navigation through the thrust cylinders with the aid of the newly developed TUnIS Track Assistant system.

An IRIS system (now known as VDMS – VMT Data Management System) was also utilised on the project. IRIS/VDMS processes and correlates data from a variety of different sources, analyses them and displays them in user-friendly form so that they can be made available to project managers on site or worldwide in a wide range of output forms. The system ensures full information and transparency and supports the efficient control of both the TBM and also many other operating processes within tunnelling projects. As a web-based system, the system can be operated easily from any internet browser on site or as in this case the system can be located locally, solely on site.

The jobsite experienced few problems however at one stage the TBM was found to be drifting. In association with the tunnelling engineers it was decided to change the setting for the support ring sequencing to compensate for this behaviour, in the calculation of the ring orientation.

At a Glance Fact Sheet:

Project Name or Designation/Timescale S21 Stuttgart–Ulm rail project – Fildertunnel
Location Stuttgart, Germany
Project requirement
Upgrading rail links between Stuttgart and Ulm
Technique Large Diameter Tunnelling
Diameter/Length/Bend Radius 10.82 m diameter x 9.5 km tunnels with a minimum bend radius of 2,300 m
VMT System utilised TUnIS Navigation TBMLaser with an IRIS/VDMS – VMT Data Management System
Challenges Long distance tunnelling over several years

The construction of a new sewage tunnel in Nice, France required a sea outfall to be installed using a tunnelling procedure. Using microtunnelling the sea outfall was designed as a 482 m long installation running along a straight route, holing out on the seabed some 450 m from the shoreline.

The 1,600 mm diameter pipeline was installed with a Herrenknecht AVN1600 using concrete pipes with a wall thickness of 280 mm. A VMT SLS-Microtunnelling LT navigation system provided the guidance necessary to keep the bore on the required line and level.

The first 115 m of the straight drive was completed using a laser guidance system already owned by the contractor. Beyond this, however, there was a requirement for a more sophisticated system to ensure the successful completion and accuracy of the drive to its terminus some 400 m further out under the sea. Therefore it was decided to introduce the VMT SLS-Microtunnelling LT system.

The contractor, Ludwig Pfeiffer, commented that the selection of the VMT navigation system was an easy one given that the company had worked with VMT on many occasions previously with excellent results. For the Nice project the contractor purchased a brand new SLS-Microtunnelling LT system to utilise.

For the recovery of the machine, a module was installed to remotely disconnect electrical and data cables as well as the slurry line. Then thanks to the previously installed lifting eyes on its upper side, the TBM can be lifted with the support of a dedicated team for the underwater operations. The installation was completed in just 50 days.