The 14-metre diameter TBM will dig from Hong Kong’s northeast New Territories 4.8km through to Shenzhen East (Atkins)

TBM arrives in Hong Kong to dig new route to China

1 September 2015 | By GCR Staff 1 Comment

A large tunnel boring machine (TBM) has arrived in Hong Kong to punch a much-needed new underground route through to the Chinese mainland.

“The new crossing will correct that and cut travelling time between Hong Kong and eastern Guangdong, southern Fujian and Jiangxi, speeding the flow of people and freight”

With a cutting face measuring 14m in diameter, the Earth Pressure Balance TBM – the largest of its kind in Hong Kong – will quite literally push the boundaries by digging from Hong Kong’s northeast New Territories 4.8km through to Shenzhen East, as part of the new Liantang–Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Crossing Point.

The dual two-lane Lung Shan Tunnel is set to become Hong Kong’s longest land road tunnel, and will take the pressure off existing border crossings from the New Territories into eastern Shenzhen and Guangdong province.

Now, traffic between two existing crossing points into eastern Shenzhen must travel through busy local roads on either side of the border before joining up with faster-moving highway systems.

The new crossing will correct that and cut travelling time between Hong Kong and eastern Guangdong, southern Fujian and Jiangxi, speeding the flow of people and freight.

UK consultancy Atkins is responsible for detailed design on the project, and attended the TBM launching ceremony on 31 August along with contractor, Dragages Hong Kong, a subsidiary of France’s Bouygues Construction, and other stakeholders.

The project is under a tight construction schedule and is due for completion by the end of 2018.

The new crossing will cut travelling time between Hong Kong and eastern Guangdong, southern Fujian and Jiangxi (Government of Hong Kong)

According to Dragages Hong Kong, use of the TBM will be supplemented with drilling and blasting to get through tough rock formations.

Real-time geological mapping will detect rock faces, and monitoring technology will alert the contractor to damage to the TBM’s cutter head.

Tunnel boring operations can go wrong.

An ambitious scheme to dig a new viaduct under Seattle in the US has been suspended since December 2013 after an even bigger TBM, nicknamed ‘Bertha’ – with a 17.5m-diameter cutting face – got stuck.

  • Updated 4 September 2015 to correct an earlier statement that the TBM is the largest in Hong Kong. The largest TBM in Hong Kong, and in the world, has a cutting face measuring 17.6m, and has been deployed on the northern landfall tunnel of the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link highway project. The TBM in this article is the largest Earth Pressure Balance (EPB) TBM in Hong Kong.