ACCIONA, which will construct Line 1 of the Quito Metro in Ecuador, is preparing one of the three tunnel boring machines (TBMs) at its heavy plant depot in Noblejas, Spain, that will construct the Ecuadorian capital’s first metro line. The other two tunnel boring machines will be prepared and checked at the Herrenknecht facility in Schwanau, Germany.
The machine itself is 9.3 m high and weighs approximately 1,660 tons. It is capable of boring through the earth at an average speed of between 15 and 18 m per day. The TBM will excavate a 4-km section, advancing non-stop, 24 hours a day.
ACCIONA’s managers in Noblejas are carrying out tests on the TBM to check that it is suitable for the geological conditions at the site (materials, hardness) and for the altitude and atmospheric pressure in Quito, among other variables. Once the tests have been completed, the TBM will be dismantled and then shipped and reassembled on site at the entrance to the future tunnel of the Quito Metro at the end of 2016, before beginning work in 2017.
A total of three TBMs machines will construct the 22 km and 15 stations of Line 1 of the Quito Metro. The TBMs will install 1.5-m long rings comprising seven segments each and weighing 5.1 tons.
Quito City Council awarded the approximately $1.5 billion project to ACCIONA. The contract consists of the construction of the Metro’s first line, which will be 22 km long and completely underground, as well as 13 stations, which will join the two stations that ACCIONA has already constructed.This line will connect the north and the south of the city of Quito with a traveling time of just over half an hour. It will have a capacity to transport around 400,000 passengers per day.
The works are expected to take 36 months to complete plus six months for the systems integration and final preparation work.
This metro line is the first part of a new public transport system for Quito. The project will generate savings of $50 million per year in fuel costs thanks to improvements in urban transport, with a subsequent reduction of 67,000 tons of CO2.The work to construct the Quito Metro will provide employment for more than 2,300 people, of which 100 will work directly on each of the three tunnel boring machines used for the project.
ACCIONA has extensive experience of complex tunneling projects. Its most emblematic tunneling works include the 4.6-km dual Legacy Way tunnels in Brisbane as part of a consortium with the Italian firm Ghella.
At present the company is also working in a consortium with Ghella to design and construct the 20-km twin railway tunnels for the Follo Line Project in Norway. This is the second and the largest of the four EPC (turnkey) contracts included in this project, and is Norway’s largest infrastructure project to date.
ACCIONA, as part of a larger consortium, recently won major contracts for metro works in Brazil, including construction of the Línea Este for the Metro de Fortaleza (Metrofor) in an initial project worth around $585 million, and two contracts for Line 2 of the Metro de Sao Paulo (three stations) for a total of $179 million and $142 million.
Other major ACCIONA projects in this sector include the Bologna railway tunnels for the high-speed line between Milan and Naples (Italy); the Pajares tunnel in Asturias (Spain), the eighth longest in the world; and the northern tunnel of the M-30 ring road in Madrid, which will be constructed by the world’s largest EPB tunnel boring machine.