KUALA LUMPUR (July 9): The first of two tunnel boring machines (TBM) which will be used to start excavation works for the Genting Tunnel as part of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project has arrived in Malaysian shores on July 4, 2021 as scheduled, after extensive factory tests in China.
Manufactured by CCCC Tianhe Machinery and Equipment Manufacturing Co Ltd in Shanghai, China, the TBMs were custom-made for use in hard rock condition and equipped with four torque cylinders.
Weighing a massive 1,600 tons and measuring 266 metres in length, they are amongst the largest TBMs for rail tunnel excavation in Malaysia.
Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali said the ECRL project has entered a new chapter with the delivery of the TBM to spearhead the excavation works for the 16.39km twin-bore Genting Tunnel between Bentong and Gombak, adding that the delivery bodes well with the decision of the Cabinet Meeting in September last year to approve the reversion of ECRL Section C to its original alignment of Temerloh – Gombak – Serendah – Port Klang.
“The ECRL project is appreciative that the China-made TBM with state-of-the-art technology has been produced and delivered by CCCC as per schedule. We are optimistic that this high-end machine is able to face the engineering challenges and geological conditions when tunnelling across the Titiwangsa Range,” he said in a statement today.
Zuki also added that it is crucial to start excavation works for Genting Tunnel at the earliest, as it is a key component of the ECRL project that will complete the land bridge for freight transportation from Kuantan Port to Port Klang, as well as directly link commuters from the East Coast states to Gombak.
After being cleared of its Factory Acceptance Test (FAT), the TBM was dismantled into 286 packages to be shipped from the Port of Shanghai to Port Klang.
Then, the TBM will be reassembled at the project's engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning contractor China Communications Construction (ECRL) Sdn Bhd's (CCC-ECRL) site and undergo further testing, before it starts its Genting Tunnel excavation works in the fourth quarter of this year.
CCC-ECRL's managing director Bai Yinzhan said the arrival of the TBM signals more intensified activities for the project.
“In anticipation of the TBM arrival, we are increasing our headcount in Section 7 in Bentong for numerous management and non-management positions such as foremen and crane operators. As we move forward, our plan is to engage more local workforce and create job opportunities for the communities along the alignment. Our team is ready and is looking forward to the TBM's commissioning in the coming months,” Bai said.
At the maximum excavation capacity of 700m per month, the TBM will be performing three main tasks underground: excavating the tunnel, transporting tons of excavated soil to the surface, and installing concrete panels that will line the tunnel.
According to CCC-ERL, the TBM is expected to take about three years to bore through the Genting Tunnel.
Scheduled for completion by December 2026, the 665-km ECRL will traverse the East Coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, before linking the Klang Valley on the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia.