2016 ITA Awards bestowed in Singapore

The ITA Awards from the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association were presented in Singapore on November 11, 2016 for the second time following up 2015 (in the Hagerbach Test Gallery, Switzerland). A 17-person strong jury headed by ITA president Tarcísio Celestino had the difficult task of selecting 11 ITA Award prize-winners from 98 candidates (2015: 110) from 25 countries. 30 representatives of the projects and six “Young Tunnellers” had the chance to present their achievements.


German Prize-Winners

It is certainly pleasing that companies from German-speaking countries are involved in many projects that have been such technical masterstrokes. The Herrenknecht AG with constant new innovations stands out here. This may act as a spur to continue supplying “Made in Austria, Germany and Switzerland”. Thus the “Emscher Project – Back to Nature!” won the ITA Award in the 2016 Environmental Initiative category. Dr. Martin Herrenknecht, one of the outstanding personalities in tunnelling, was honoured for his life’s work.


The new Guanjiao Tunnel: 2016 Project of the Year costing over 500 Million Euros

The new Guanjiao Tunnel, part of the Qinghai-Tibet rail route in China, received the ITA Award among the outstanding major tunnelling projects of 2016, costing more than 500 million euros (Fig. 1) The 32.69 km long Guanjiao Tunnel replaces the former line, which wound through the mountains, and substantially reduces travelling time and distance. Challenges were posed by the altitude of 3400 m in rarified atmosphere, average temperatures of around 0 °C throughout the year, low performance by man and machines and many other factors. On account of the very low oxygen content at such an altitude, a number of simultaneous face attacks were set up for each inclined shaft to speed up tunnelling. Oxygen units were made available at each face and an over-pressure chamber with oxygen was available at each tunnel portal. An intricate ventilation system was applied. In the inclined shafts, muck was removed by conveyor after first being reduced by crusher installations to cut down on emissions caused by lorry transport. Rail services have passed through the Guanjiao Tunnel since it was opened in December 2014.


Singapore wins the 2016 Prize for Tunnelling Projects costing between 50 and 500 Million Euros

Esen Sze Yu Sheng (Fig. 2) accepted the 2016 ITA Award for the best tunnelling project costing between 50 and 500 million euros on behalf of all those involved in the project: constructing the Fort Canning Station including the tunnel link in Singapore. The winning project is part of the metro development scheme involving the 21 km long Downtown Line 3 in Singapore with 16 stations and three transfer stations. The construction of the Fort Canning Metro Station including diverting the Singapore River (Fig. 3) in various phases posed particular challenges for the engineers, which resulted in the bestowal of the ITA Award.


Outstanding Tunnelling Project in 2016 costing up to 50 Million Euros in China

Xiao Longge (Fig. 4) received the 2016 ITA Award for the outstanding tunnelling project costing up to 50 million euros for the Chongqing Hongqihegou Metro Station. The metro project required special solutions to avoid disturbing the complex existing buildings with numerous foundations. Furthermore, the maximum overburden of only 8.6 m did not exactly make execution any easier. It was decided to split the station project into four different-sized drives (Fig. 5) applying the self-shoring rock support method. For this purpose, the entire cross-section was divided into four sections: in each case two segments were removed at the top and bottom. The remaining cruciform rock mass supported the loads from the sides and from above. It was then the turn of the upper segment and at the same time the inner lining in the upper segment was tackled. Gradually descending further down, the supporting rock was replaced by the inner lining.


2016 ITA Award for Environmental Initiative for Emscher Project

Dr. Klaus Rieker, Head of Tunnelling Wayss & Freytag Ingenieurbau AG, Frankfurt/Main together with Martin Froning from the Emschergenossenschaft, Essen, presented one of the largest environmental and sewage projects in the world (Fig. 6). Until it is commissioned in 2017 and final completion in 2020, some 4.5 billion euros will be invested in constructing four decentralised clarification plants, 400 km of new sewers and 350 km of renaturalisation. Divided into different construction sections and awarded to various contractors, the company executed 47 km of pipe-jacking (diameter DN 300 to 2700) and 117 shafts up to 40 m deep with diameters of 5 to 24 m in construction section 30.


ITA Award for Life’s Work to Dr.-Ing. E.h. Martin Herrenknecht

“It is a great honour for me to be able to present the Lifetime Achievement Prize to one of the most outstanding and brilliant experts among our tunnelling family”, is how Tarcísio Celestino began his assessment of a practically unparalleled career in engineering. Scarcely had the first few words been spoken by the ITA President before all eyes in the hall were directed at Dr. Martin Herrenknecht. “His countless developments have changed tunnelling and become part of everyday life”. There are very few major projects, which have been accomplished without his being involved in some way or another (Fig. 7).


Prize for Safety Initiative goes to Singapore

The ABSIS (Activity Based Safety Improvement System) was used for a cable tunnel project in Singapore, employing an average manpower force of 3500 per day. This safety system presents practically all safety-relevant situations during the course of tunnelling in a video so that the number of accidents and safety-related stoppages is drastically reduced, Edward Raj (Fig. 8) of Singapore Power described its success. Danger points and situations were systematically identified, defused or completely eliminated and the safety awareness of the labour force improved.


Technical Innovation of the Year comes from Brazil

The ITA Award for the best technical innovation in 2016 went to the project presented by Julio C. Di Dio Pierri, Odebrecht, for the JV Line 4 Sul (Fig. 9). The application of a hybrid EPB tunnel boring machine with 11.46 m diameter from Herrenknecht was acknowledged, which was used in pure sand in Rio de Janeiro, initially in open mode and then after conversion in closed mode. In this way, the 4 km long part-section of Metro 4, comprising stable gneiss hard rock and largely sandy soil was mastered with a TBM.


Innovative Utilisation of underground Structures in Singapore

The ITA Award for the Innovative Use of Underground Space went to the development of underground rock caverns for storing liquid hydrocarbons in the Jurong Rock Caverns (JRC), Singapore, presented by Teo Tiong Yong (Fig. 10) for the JTC Corporation. At a depth of 120 to 150 m below the surface, an area of some 30 ha was developed for industrial use in two phases. In the process, roughly 1.47 million m³ of storage space was created in the first phase alone. Generally speaking the individual caverns are 27 m high, 340 m long with a base area of 20 m width. The caverns were produced by drill+blast and secured with shotcrete if need be. The two caverns of the first construction phase have been in operation since mid-2014, whereas caverns 3 to 5 are due for commissioning in March 2017.


Vauxhall Station Extension in London

The ITA Award for the most interesting Extension/Renovation went to Kurt Zeidler (Fig. 11) on behalf of the project for expanding the Vauxhall Tube Station in London. Referring to the very constricted site conditions, which he displayed impressively in a video about “Working on a Euro Coin”, Zeidler went on to suggest it was “more like digging with a teaspoon than a tunnelling scheme”. The logistical challenges in inner urban surroundings in particular were huge.


Young Tunneller 2016 from Malaysia

Derek Eng from Malaysia was selected as the 2016 Young Tunneller of the Year by the ITA and managed to ward off strong competition in the final round (Fig. 12). Derek Eng is assistant manager in the tunnelling division of MMC Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn. Bhd., a renowned Malaysian construction company and main contractor for building the metro stations and the tunnels for the MRT project in Kuala Lumpur.


2017 ITA Awards in Paris on November 15

The ITA Award ceremony this year will be presented on November 15. The event will constitute a part of the 15th International Congress of the French Tunnelling Society AFTES “The Value is Underground” from November 13 to 16, 2017 in Paris.


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