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The Swedish Transport Administration has commissioned Skanska-Vinci to complete the construction of the tunnel through the Hallandsås Ridge, which will become Sweden’s longest rail tunnel. After 2015, when the tunnel is completed, fewer trucks and cars will travel between Gothenburg and Malmö.
The 8.7-kilometer rail tunnel will increase capacity six-fold – from four to 24 trains an hour. The current line over the Hallandsås Ridge is a bottleneck for the entire West Coast Line with its steep hills and tight curves. A rail tunnel will enable trains to travel at full speed and with a maximum cargo load.
One of the end results will be a boost for the environment. More companies can choose to transport goods by rail, which is a greener alternative than transport by truck, and more people on the west coast can commute by train to their place of work or study.
The environment is also a priority during the actual construction phase. Several systems are in place to monitor water, chemicals and the ecology of the area.
• The volume of groundwater that leaks into the tunnel is measured throughout the day. On the section that stretches from the southern mouth of the tunnel to Lyadalen, leakage of 150 l/s is permitted during the construction phase. The permitted leakage rate is 100 l/s for the remainder of the stretch (based on an average value over 30 days). When the tunnels are completed, the permitted leakage rate has been set at 33 l/s. These are the values stipulated in the environmental permit that applies for the project.• All water is pH-adjusted and treated before being discharged into the sea. • All chemicals are reviewed before being approved for use.
Challenges presented by the project include the varying geological conditions of the Hallandsås ridge and the significant volumes of water contained within the feature. The Mölleback zone is a 300-meter-long section and is geologically the weakest point. The decision was taken to freeze part of the Mölleback zone to stabilize the area, thus facilitating tunneling through the section.
Skanska, which has extensive expertise of conventional tunnel construction in Sweden and previous experience of Hallandsås, is partnered by Vinci in this project in a consortium called Skanska-Vinci HB. Vinci is a French construction company with long experience of building tunnels with TBMs (Tunnel Boring Machines).
1992 Kraftbyggarna is appointed contractor.
1996 Skanska enters as new contractor after Kraftbyggarna.
1997 The stipulations of the water permit are exceeded. Rhoca Gil is used to seal the tunnels and high levels of acrylamide are detected in the wastewater. The leakage triggers a crisis in the tunnel’s immediate environment prompting in the Swedish Transport Administration and Skanska to call a halt to the project.
1998 The tunnels are decontaminated, sealing efforts are intensified and a comprehensive environmental control process is initiated. Decision on the future of the tunnel is now the responsibility of the Swedish government. Alternatives to tunnels and various tunnel designs are examined.
2000 Tunnel sealing is completed and Skanska concludes the project. Water leakage is within the limits stipulated in the water permit.
2001 The government and the Swedish Parliament decide that the tunnel should be completed. The Swedish Transport Administration approves the construction of a municipal water network for residents of the ridge and also decides that a new procurement process should be carried out with new preconditions.
2002 The Skanska-Vinci consortium is appointed contractor for any continuation of the project.
2004 Skanska-Vinci receive the green light to resume construction of the project.
2005 Adaptation work commences on the TBMs in the autumn.
2008 The TBM, named “Åsa,” makes a breakthrough at the mid-adit. In conjunction with the subsequent maintenance stoppage, the machine’s cutter head is replaced. The machine then continues in a northerly direction.
2010 The TBM Åsa reaches a cavern in the north end of the Hallandsås Ridge, thus completing the first of the two 8.6-kilometer rail tunnels between Förslöv in the south and Båstad in the north. The machine is dismantled, with its next job to commence in February 2011 on the western tunnel through Hallandsås.
2013 A historical break through on September 4 when the tunnel-boring machine Åsa makes her final break through and finish the west tunnel.
Dan-Magnus SköldSkanska Sweden+46 10 44 88 008
Mejl Dan-Magnus Sköld
Rail travel is the green alternative for freight transportation, but today the Hallandsås ridge is a bottleneck for efficient rail travel. The finished rail tunnel through the ridge will increase rail capacity for goods trains and thereby increase competitiveness in relation to road freight.
Skanska-Vinci is certified in accordance with ISO 14001. Certification means that the project addresses environmental issues in a structured and systematic manner.
Water plays a leading role in the tunnel project. The volume of water permitted to leak into the tunnel is regulated by an environmental permit. Comprehensive programs monitor ground water, tunnel water and watercourses. Tunnel water is the water that leaks into the tunnel. From the northern and southern worksites, the tunnel water flows from the tunnel construction site to the sea via two outlet water pipes. All water is treated and the pH value is adjusted in the treatment plant built outside the tunnel mouth.
The environment is temporarily impacted during the construction period. When the TBM passes, the groundwater level is lowered, but recovers to its original status after about a year, which is also the case for vegetation, creeks and watercourses. Certain animals that live in watercourses may be affected by the temporary lowering of the groundwater level.
Each year, the Swedish Transport Administration plans the protective measures that may be necessary based on the position of the TBM. Among other measures, the Swedish Transport Administration moved fish in the Lyabäcken stream to a fish farm during the period the stream was dry.
Wildlife is otherwise not disturbed. No permanent impact on the ridge is permitted and this includes nature, wildlife and water.
Considerable resources are dedicated to chemical reviews; all chemicals used undergo careful control. Skanska-Vinci compiles evaluation documentation on each chemical product, which is subsequently examined and analyzed by the Swedish Transport Administration.
Chemicals that risk coming into contact with groundwater under normal operations are also reviewed by the Environmental Assessment Team (Miljögranskningsgruppen), which is an independent review body. The Municipality of Båstad and the county administrative board are always informed of any planned use of the products.
The Environmental Assessment Team, the county administrative board and the municipalities of Båstad and Ängelholm review Skanska-Vinci’s and the Swedish Transport Administration’s work on the project.
Environmental choices in everyday activities are also important. Although the environmental work is regulated to a considerable degree by legislation and regulations, environmental awareness permeates the entire project. This is reflected in the manner in which the project is controlled and plays an integral part in daily operations. Examples of environmentally sound choices are:
• The segments used in the concrete tubes are transported to Förslöv by rail from the plant in Åstorp.
• A model known as Clean Treatment was developed at the project’s water treatment plant. This entails a distinct reduction in the use of chemicals when the TBM is standing still for maintenance.
• We are working actively to reduce energy consumption and the volume of waste.
• We employ carbon offsetting to compensate for the journeys made by employees involved in the project.
• The TBM is powered by green electricity.
Commissioned by the Swedish Transport Administration, Skanska - Vinci HB has been tasked with completing the rail tunnel through the Hallandsås ridge, from Förslöv in the south to Båstad in the north.
The project consists of two 8.7-kilometer parallel single-track tunnels. Some 19 cross-passage tunnels will also be constructed connecting the two main tunnels. The tunnel will be inaugurated in 2015, but our part of the project will be completed in 2014.
The best TBM, the best self-inspection and environmental program and the best finances – three major reasons as to why Skanska-Vinci was awarded the contract to complete the tunnel through the Hallandsås ridge.
The Skanska-Vinci HB consortium will build the tunnel as part of a design-construct contract, meaning that Skanska-Vinci is responsible for design, planning and construction of the project.
The geological conditions at the Hallandsås ridge present a substantial challenge. The ridge was created as a result of enormous forces millions of years ago. The geology is highly varied and different compared with the conditions commonly found in Sweden.
In places, the bedrock is fractured and thus contains much water. Unlike many other tunnel projects around the world, we are not allowed to drain away substantial volumes of water from the ridge.
To protect the nature of the Hallandsås area, the project is subject to an environmental permit. The project is adapted to comply with all the conditions of this permit and the technical solutions for the tunnel construction have been adjusted to these conditions and circumstances.
The TBM named Åsa is being used to bore the tunnel through the Hallandsås ridge. The 250-meter-long machine is specially adapted to the difficult geological conditions at the ridge. The person who operates the TBM is known as the pilot and sits in a control room on the TBM from where he controls all of the machine’s systems.
The TBM builds a watertight tube of concrete segments behind it. The method is known as lining and is used to prevent groundwater from entering the tunnel. The plant that manufactures the concrete segments is situated in Åstorp, about 30 kilometers from Förslöv.
Almost 400 people from throughout Europe work on the project. In addition to the TBM worksite, they are stationed in three locations: the Southern site, the Northern site and the segment plant in Åstorp.
The Southern site is the largest work site and all logistics serving the TBM are based at the south end. A large water treatment plant is located at the mouth of the tunnel in addition to a concrete batching plant, workshop, electrical workshop and a large crane for unloading the concrete segments that arrive by train from Åstorp. We have even built our own railway to transport personnel and material in and out of the tunnel. The broken rock is removed from the tunnel on a conveyer belt system.
The southern entrance also has two assembly halls located about 1,800 meters into the ridge. The TBM was assembled in the eastern chamber before it commenced work. When the TBM will start work on the western tunnel, it will be assembled in the western chamber.
Conventional tunneling work is being carried out at the Northern site. Here, we blasted a reception chamber some 1,700 meters into the ridge; a point that was reached by the TBM Åsa on August 25, 2010. The chamber was necessary since the cutter head is bigger than the finished tunnel and must therefore be dismantled. The rest of the machine is subsequently pulled back through the tunnel and prepared to commence boring the western tunnel tube through the Hallandsås ridge. Valuable lessons concerning the geological conditions were learned from Åsa’s first journey through the ridge.
The Northern site is also responsible for preliminary treatment of the Mölleback zone – a 300-meter-long area of fractured rock.
The quality of the rock in the Mölleback zone is intermittently poor. The rock is fractured, porous and contains substantial volumes of water, thus presenting major challenges for the tunnel project. To stabilize the rock, remove water and facilitate boring, a gigantic chest freezer has been created in the area.
When the area freezes, the water and rock in the area combine into an ice mass. In addition, cement is used to reinforce part of the rock. Roughly the same principal as that for cooling an ice rink is used to freeze the rock. A number of horizontal pipes are drilled into the area to be frozen through which coolant is circulated at about minus 40 degrees Celsius in a closed system.
Work on the tunnel never stops. The team of 20 people who work on the TBM start at 7 a.m. Twelve hours later, they are relieved by the next shift, who work throughout the night until seven the next morning. The change-over of shifts takes place in the ridge.
A shift consists of several different duties and work locations. Some of the team work in the area outside the tunnel and plan material transportation into the TBM. Others work in the water treatment plant, the concrete batching plant or in the workshop performing service.
There are a number of different jobs on the TBM. The TBM pilot steers the TBM while others are responsible for positioning the concrete sections that form the tunnel and so on. Some personnel have specialist areas and others have multiple tasks; when needed, personnel switch between assignments to assist each other.
Working with a TBM is special because of the inward and outward transportation of goods and because of the very limited space in and around the machine. Those who work here must lift, carry and perform many other duties in a very restricted area. They are also required to crawl into the cutter head to replace disk cutters.
Working conditions are prioritized, and because this is Skanska’s largest project in Sweden, there are more personnel than usual actively working on these issues. We work in a preventative manner and conduct safety rounds where accident risks are reported.
Safety during tunnel construction is paramount. During the project, refuge chambers are located at various locations in the tunnel and equipped with enough oxygen to facilitate survival for up to 20 hours. One of these chambers is a so-called mobile refuge chamber, enabling it to travel on the rails.
• About 400 people are working on the project • 200,000 cubic meters of concrete are needed to construct the 40,000 concrete segments• About 40,000 concrete segments have been produced, each weighing 12 tons • With a diameter of 5.6 meters, the ball bearing in the cutter head is one of the world’s largest• The TBM is 250 meters long and weighs 3,200 tons• 23 cubic meters of saline solution is used as coolant to freeze the Mölleback zone