Two tunnel boring machines, each 2400 tons, are racing towards breakthrough close to Oslo city center. They are both part of the Follo Line Project, the largest infrastructure project to date in Norway.
Who will be the first to break through on September 11th – Queen Eufemia or Queen Ellisiv?
The machines are named after courageous women with relations to Oslo and the Medieval Park close to the mountain hall set to be the breakthrough arena. The tunnel boring machines (TBM) will each have excavated 9 km in northern direction, the same length is soon to be expected by two other TBMs drilling southwards, producing the so far longest rail tunnel in the Nordic countries.
The first breakthrough
With guests and tunnel workers ringside, this will be the first breakthrough for the TBMs in the large scale Follo Line Project, stretching from Norway’ s capital to the city of Ski, including the 20 km long hard rock tunnel. The final breakthrough for the drilling of the tunnel with separate tubes, is scheduled for spring 2019. 2/3 of the Follo Line Project in total has now been executed.
This new double track line allows a 50 % reduction in travel time and forms an important part of the intercity rail development conducted by Bane NOR, the Norwegian National Railway Administration. With its novel methods and solutions, the project offers a model for future railway project in Norway.
Bane NOR chose tunnel boring machines for the excavation of the main part of the long tunnel. The drilling started on September 5th 2016 and the excavation in northern direction is performed ahead of schedule.
The whole operation with four giant TBM is managed from one centrally located rigg area. The drilling provides major environmental benefits compared to excavation by drill and blast from several access points. Conveyor belts transporting the excavated material from the tunnels to be reused as part of the construction ground for a new residential area surrounding the site, result in reduced number of vehicle and traffic movements on public roads and reduced pollution.
Extreme hard Norwegian rock
Hard work is mandatory the days ahead for the tunnel workers managed by the entrepreneur Acciona Ghella Joint Venture. The 150 meters long machines, with diameter 9.96, are the strongest TBMs ever according to the manufacturer Herrenknecht in Germany.
The machines make their way through rock formed by several glacial periods and two out of four TBMs are right now competing to reach their breakthrough close to Oslo Central Station.
Follow the tunnel race in Oslo: The event will be streamed from inside the mountain hall and you are most welcome to take part in the event on this website, September 11th from 11 am.
Live streaming September 11th 2018: You can see the event here.
Queen Eufemia: Eufemia was queen of Norway from 1299, married to King Håkon Magnusson. Eufemia married Håkon in St Mary's Church in Oslo. The ruins of St Mary's can be seen today in the Medieval Park. The new Follo Line will run through a covered superstructure (tunnel) under the park.
Queen Ellisiv: Ellisiv was queen from 1046, married to King Harald Hardråde. She was a Russian princess. Harald forced his nephew, King Magnus, to divide the kingdom between them, and when Magnus died shortly after, Harald became sole king of Norway and Denmark.