Robbins Achieves Breakthrough in Bangalore


One of two 6.4-m (21.0-ft) diameter mixed-face EPBS used to excavate from Chickpet to Majestic.

On June 8, 2016, one of two 6.4-m (21.0-ft) diameter mixed-face EPB machines broke through at Namma Metro (Bangalore Metro). After being launched in March 2015, the TBM named Kaveri made its way through its difficult 750-m (2,460-ft) drive from Chickpet to Majestic. Sister machine Krishna, launched in December 2015, is not far behind, and is expected to break through in approximately two months.

In February 2015, The Robbins Company, with its operating company Robbins India, was asked by Bangalore Metro Rail Corp. Ltd. (BMRC) to take over the operation and maintenance of two competitor-owned EPBMs. The machines were stalled due to low performance and financial issues from the Operating Contractor and lack of support by the original machine supplier. As the North-South Bangalore Phase 1 Metro tunnels were on the critical path, BMRC looked to Robbins to step in and take over the troubled project. A Robbins/Robbins India team of 70 field service personnel refurbished and modified the existing equipment, both while in the tunnel and before relaunching the machines in Chikpet station. In addition, the on-site Robbins/Robbins India team supervised all aspects of TBM excavation, segmental lining, mucking and grout plant operations since the relaunch of the machines for both drives.

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“I am particularly proud of being involved in this project, and to support BMRC with the completion of this tunnel drive and bringing the project back on schedule. This is also the first time The Robbins Company has been responsible for the complete scope of operations on a project,” noted Jim Clark, Projects Manager with Robbins India. “One of the biggest challenges we faced was carrying out cutterhead interventions under compressed air in mixed ground conditions that consisted of varying grades of granite in the lower half of the face, and loose, unconsolidated material in the upper section of the face.”

Clark said that on numerous occasions, compressed air would percolate through to the surface, forcing crews to abort cutterhead interventions. They eventually found a solution by pumping a weak mix grout though the mixing chamber, and into the geology surrounding the tunnel face. The weak mix grout stabilized the ground sufficiently so the cutterhead interventions could be completed.

Lok Home, Robbins CEO, joins the Robbins India team in celebrating Kaveri’s breakthrough at Majestic on June 8, 2016.

Lok Home, Robbins CEO, joins the Robbins India team in celebrating Kaveri’s breakthrough at Majestic on June 8, 2016.

The Robbins crew carried out tunneling operations while the station was being constructed around them to help minimize impacts to the schedule. The project’s most difficult challenges included a low overburden and consolidated ground along the alignment, and the discovery of several uncharted wells directly along the alignment. In addition, the majority of the tunnel was bored directly beneath buildings constructed upon what is today considered substandard foundations.

This portion of the Phase One Metro tunnels runs from Chickpet to Majestic at Namma Metro. Once Krishna breaks through, the north and south runs of Bengaluru will be connected, allowing service to an average of 40,000 passengers daily. It is being completed under a tripartite agreement between Robbins India, Coastal Projects Ltd., the lead contractor, and project owner, BMRC. It is anticipated Phase One will be open in its entirety by November 2016.

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