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Rectangular TBM is a first for Singapore underpass

Singapore image by Chensiyuan

The expansion of the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) in Singapore will involve the construction of a new underpass, the first in the country to be built with a rectangular tunnel boring machine (TBM).

The underpass, 60m long and 11m deep at its lowest point, is expected to be open for pedestrian use by 2019.

Speaking to Today, Henry Foo, project director of the Land Transport Authority’s (LTA’s) TEL civil team 3, said: “For a typical underpass structure in LTA’s MRT projects, we would undertake what we call a cut and cover construction method.

“It will require diversion of surface activities, be it the road, the drain or the canal or whatever it is. We also would need to divert the utilities underground before we can do the underground structure.

“In using this box jack rectangular TBM, we will avoid the need to compromise the surface activities and create the underground structure in a trenchless manner.”

Foo added that using a TBM for the underpass can help reduce manpower by about 30%.

The underpass will be built under the Bukit Timah Canal to connect a local school with Stevens MRT station, which is currently under construction.

As part of the TEL expansion, Stevens MRT and Mount Pleasant stations are scheduled to be opened by 2021.

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