- 22. 10. 2014
After a 1,400 km and 14-day voyage, the main and most important parts of a new tunnel-boring machine arrived at the North Bohemian port of Lovosice. This tunnel-boring machine, the cutting head of which has a diameter of almost 10 metres, will be used by Metrostav to drive the longest Czech railway tunnel, the Ejpovice Tunnel on the line from Rokycany to Pilsen. It will be the first time that this modern technology, the priority of which is safety and minimising disruption to the surface above, will be used in the construction of tunnels for the Railway Infrastructure Administration (SŽDC).
The largest domestic construction company commissioned Herrenknecht, Schwanau, Germany to manufacture the tunnel-boring machine, like the previous two used in the construction of Section V.A. of the Prague underground. With regard to the passage, the heaviest parts of the machine were transported by the ship URANUS from the port of Kehl on the Rhine, along canals and the Elbe River as far as the town of Lovosice. From there, it will be transported by truck to Kyšice in the Pilsen Region, where the tunnelling starting point is being prepared. The total weight of the load is almost 600 tons. It consists of a main bearing (150 t), cutting head centre (75 t), shield segments (224 t), and erector (118 t). After assembly, the 110 m long machine will weigh 1,800 tons.
The construction is being carried out by the Metrostav/Subterra Consortium. The tunnelling itself, which has been postponed due to several important archaeological finds, should start early next year. If everything goes as expected, i.e. there will not be any problems with, for example, geological overburdening, construction work should finish on schedule in 2017.
The current railway line between Rokycany and Pilsen will be shortened from the original length of 20.2 km by more than six kilometres. Due to a higher speed of up to 160 kilometres per hour, the running time of tilting trains will be reduced to half (at present, it is 20 minutes). Two single-track tunnels, each with a length of 4,150 m, will be extremely safe. They will be interconnected by means of emergency exits located every 350 metres. Fire trucks will even be able to enter the tunnel tubes, where trains can go at a speed of up to 200 kilometres per hour. The Project also includes the construction of a new railway station in Ejpovice, noise barriers with a length of almost 6 km, new overhead lines, interlocking equipment and six bridges.
According to Ing. Štefan Ivor, Head of Tunnelling, Metrostav, who gained extensive practical experience working on the new Section V.A underground line, mastering the Prague geology was a graduation of sorts for drifters. “I believe that the acquired skills will help us keep the planned dates. Despite the geological survey for the construction project, we cannot, however, exclude the possibility of some unpleasant surprises underground. However, I am convinced that after our people have managed to bore tunnels at the icy waters of Iceland, under the seabed in Helsinki, Finland, and in harsh Norwegian conditions, we will fulfil our mission.”