Tunnelling in Malaysia

 

The achievements in tunnelling and underground space development in Malaysia, in the past one and half decades are impressive. From the very beginning of the older tunnels constructed associated with the construction of dams (e.g. Kelinci Dam water transfer tunnel, diversion tunnel of the Sg. Selangor Dam, pressure tunnels and powerhouse for the Pergau Dam, etc.) and highways (e.g. Karak Highway twin tunnels and Penchala Link twin tunnels) and on to the subway Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, tunnelling activities have been gaining momentum in the 21st century with the construction of the Storm Water Management and Road Transport System (SMART) dual-purpose tunnel, Pahang-Selangor interstate water transfer tunnel, double tracking electrified railway tunnel and the most recently completed is the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) from Sungai Buluh to Kajang as well as the planned High Speed Rail (HSR) and the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) projects.

 


Karak Highway Twin Tunnel

Sungai Selangor Water Transfer Tunnel

 

Recent development in Variable Density TBM, conceptualised by Malaysian owned companies MMC-Gamuda JV through exhaustive research and collaboration with TBM supplier Herrenknecht AG and Ruhr-University, is the first-of-its kind in the world of the tunnelling industry. VD TBM has proven to be an effective tool to excavate in different types and yet challenging geology and performed beyond expectations when in successfully endured the tunnel drives of the Klang Valley MRT Project through underground karstic formation without any incident of the dreaded sinkholes or blowouts.

 


Variable Density Tunnel Boring Machine

 

It is worth also noting the success in of setting up the world’s first tunnelling school, also known as the Tunnelling Training Academy (TTA) in record time in December 2011 to response to the urgent call to create high-income employments as Malaysia is shifting into high-gear as the nation enters a new era of economic transformation to achieve the coveted developed nation status by the year 2020 as well as to realise our need to create a sustainable pool of certified tunnelling workforce to cater for new phases of for the massive Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) project. TTA is the answer to the needs of the mega KVMRT project, as well as to create a sustainable industrial technology base to nurture expertise and boost productivity in tunnel engineering, enabling local players to take on more complex tunnel construction projects in the future.

 

 
Tunnelling Training Academy (TTA) Opening Ceremony in 2011

 

The following is a list of tunnelling projects recently completed in Malaysia and the projects in the pipeline together with their contribution to the advancement of the underground construction industry as a whole.

Tunnelling Activities in the Recent Past

Storm Water Management and Road Transport System (SMART)


SMART Tunnel

An example of successful urban underground development to help solve urban problems, the innovative SMART project is a dual-purpose tunnel. The project provides a storm water diversion scheme including flood-water storage reservoir and a 9.7 km, 11.8 m diameter bypass tunnel, sufficient to save the Kuala Lumpur city from flooding at the time of inclement weather in the foreseeable future. With no major flood events over most of the years, the dual-purposes tunnel was engineered, with a waterway beneath the double-decks motorway built into the central 3 km section, relieving traffic congestion by providing 2 x 2 traffic lanes for cars connecting the city centre to the southern gateway, i.e. the KL-Seremban Highway.

SMART project won the British Construction Industry International Award in 2008 and received the UN Habitat Scroll of Honour Award in 2011 for its innovative and unique management of storm water and peak hour traffic.

 

Pahang – Selangor Raw Water Transfer Tunnel

In June 2009, Malaysia began a project to build the Pahang-Selangor raw water transfer tunnel. It was to be one of the longest and biggest tunnels in Southeast Asia and the sixth biggest in the world - a 44.6 km long, 5.2 m in diameter tunnel with a water delivery capacity of 1.89 billion litres per day, laid underneath a mountain range between Pahang and Selangor states.


Pahang-Selangor Interstate Raw Water Transfer Tunnel

This huge excavation project was successfully completed in February 2014 and able to overcome the various challenges (e.g. over 50 m high empty cavern inside a mountain, pressurised spring water that shot out as much as 24.6 tonnes of water per minute, rock burst, etc.) thanks to the strong solidarity of its multinational team consisting over 1,000 workforce from 15 countries.

 

Mass Rapid Transit (Line 1 & 2), SBK Line & SSP Line


Klang Valley MRT Lines

The Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) Project involves the construction of a rail-based public transport network, Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, together with the existing urban rail network, will form the backbone of the public transport system in the Greater Kuala Lumpur/ Klang Valley region. The first MRT line implemented is the 51 km Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line (SBK Line). Construction of the line began on 8 July 2011 and fully operational in July 2017. The MRT SSP Line is the second MRT line under construction. The line will serve a corridor with a population dessity of around 2 million people stretching from Sungai Buloh to Putrajaya. The SSP alignment is 52.2 km of which 13.5 km is underground. A total of 37 stations, with 11 of them underground.

The successful completion of KVMRT SBK Line tunnels in Malaysia marks an important step in the use of Steel Fibre Reinforced Concrete (SFRC) tunnel segmental lining in South East Asia. The successful experience encourages other rail developers and contractors in the region to embark on the usage of SFRC tunnel lining for other suitable projects. Circle lines are now being planned.

 


TRX Station and TBM Machines

 

Ulu Jerai Hydroelectric Project – Underground Powerhouse

The Ulu Jelai Hydroelectric Power (HEP) Scheme was initiated by the Tenaga Nasional Board (TNB), Malaysia to provide additional 326 Gigawatt hours (GWhr) power generation for the increase in electricity demand and to improve the reliability of the electricity supply. The HEP Scheme is located in the Cameron Highlands, Pahang State, West Malaysia and comprises water transfer tunnels from the Lemoi and Telom rivers into a 0.74 million (M) m3 capacity reservoir retained by the Susu Dam spanning the Bertam River Valley. The Ulu Jelai HEP Scheme commenced construction early 2011 for a Contract sum of MYR 820 milllion (US$ 185 million) and is due for completion early 2017.

The project involves the construction of an underground plant, which will house two Francis turbines with a power output of 191 MW each and the construction of approximately 26 km of hydraulic tunnels, of which approximately 15 km excavated with Tunnel Boring Machines (TBM) and the remaining with the traditional method.

Other underground structures include headrace and tailrace tunnels, surge shaft, two pen stocks, transformer and surge chamber caverns. Construction of the water transfer tunnels were performed using a 3m diameter tunnel boring machine. The drill and blast technique was employed for the excavation of the underground power house, transformer and surge chamber caverns, headrace and tailrace tunnels and penstocks. The surge shaft was excavated using the raised boring technique.


Ulu Jerai HEP Underground Powerhouse

 

Bukit Berapit Rail Tunnel


Bukit Berapit Rail Tunnel

Bukit Berapit Rail Tunnel, a 3300m twin tunnel is the longest rail tunnel in Malaysia. It is located in Bukit Berapit near Bukit Gantang, Perak, Malaysia. It was included as a part of Ipoh-Padang Besar Electrified Double Tracking Project. The tunnel was constructed as an alternative to the old winding tracks with many tunnels. The completion of this tunnel saw the closure of the Bukit Berapit Halt.

Construction of the tunnel started in 2008 and was completed in 2013. And now, it has been commissioned and is in operation.

 

Pantai 2 STP Green Transformation

The country’s first and biggest sewage treatment plant (STP) as well as the largest in Asia Pacific, Pantai 2 Sewage Treatment Plant (P2STP), is constructed underground and equipped with state-of-the-art green technologies. The plant could cater to the growing population until year 2035. Once completed, the plant will be able to receive the sewage flow from a 6,700 ha Pantai catchment covering central and south-western parts of Kuala Lumpur.

A 1.423 million PE sludge management facility will be constructed to treat and manage the waste biological sludge, with the provision of bio gas power generation facility. The P2STP features various green technologies including utilising the skylight concept for the underground plant, effluent reuse, rainwater harvesting and the use of biogas and solar panels to generate electricity. The plant also uses energy-efficient equipment to reduce the amount of electricity consumed.

One of the main highlights of the project is the Pantai 2 STP which will be developed as an underground facility with ground/ area above the STP developed as a leisure park with sports, recreational, administration building and community facilities for the local residents.

 


Underground Sewage Treatment Plant (Pantai 2 STP)

 

Mass Rapid Transit (Line 3), Circle Line

The Klang Valley MRT Line 3 Circle Line is a proposed new urban metro railway for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The line is approximately 30+km long of which majority is expected to be underground tunnels and stations providing several interchanges with the existing rail network, including MRT Line 1 & Line 2, KLJ Line, APG Line, KTM and HSR.


Mass Rapid Transit (Line 3), Circle Line

 

Penang Undersea Tunnel

The Penang Undersea Tunnel is a 6.5km tunnel which will connect Butterworth, Seberang Perai in the east to George Town, Penang island in the west. When completed, it will become the first undersea tunnel in Malaysia and the second in the Southeast Asia. There will be a toll plaza at the undersea tunnel. With a cost of RM6.3 billion, the tunnel will be the largest privately funded public works project in Penang.


Penang Undersea Tunnel

 

Upcoming Tunneling Projects

 


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