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Hallandsås Tunnel
The route of the West Coast Line over the Hallandsås Ridge had been a bottleneck for nearly a century. The
solution was to build a tunnel through the ridge, but the project encountered major problems and proved to
be a major challenge for Swedish rock construction engineers.
The Hallandsås Tunnel is part of an extensive programme to expand and modernise the Swedish rail
network. An efficient rail line along the west coast of Sweden facilitates commuting, and more goods can
be transported by rail. The West Coast Line is also an important link for long-distance rail traffic, for
example between Copenhagen and Oslo.
Photo: Skanska
Geological complications
The Hallandsås Ridge is one of the horsts formed in Skåne at the end of the Cretaceous period,
approximately 70-100 million years ago. The geology in the ridge is varied, comprising gneiss and
amphibolite, as well as granite and diabase, and the rock quality ranges from solid to completely
weathered. Many parts are highly fractured and contain large quantities of water. The heterogeneous
nature of the rock and variations in rock quality presented challenges from a rock engineering perspective.
Groundwater problems
The Hallandsås Tunnel project began in 1992. Shortly after the start of the work large inflows of
groundwater were noticed in the northern tunnels, lowering groundwater levels and water levels in nearby
wells.
None of the grouting agents tested could penetrate the finest cracks and seal the tunnel. A chemical
grouting agent, which had been used in many other tunnel projects all over the world, was then tested.
This comprised two components based on acrylamide, which is toxic but rendered harmless when the
individual molecules bond together in chains through polymerisation.
Illustration: Petter Lönegård
In October 1997, however, it was discovered that some of the agent had not completely polymerised
because of the abundant groundwater flow and the high water pressure. Some of the acrylamide did not
polymerise at all and remained in its toxic state, polluting the water in the streams into which the tunnel
water was discharged. Fish died and cattle that drank from the streams suffered paralysis. There was also
concern about local drinking water and the work environment in the tunnel.
The tunnel project came to a halt in 1997 when the problem of acrylamide discharge became known.
Studies showed that the drill and blast method would cause great inflows of water during the period of
construction, so this problem had to be addressed. Conclusions were that the tunnels needed to be sealed
using an enclosed concrete lining, and that a shielded tunnel boring machine must be used. Another
important lesson learned was that environmental consideration, control, and information to the public
must be given a high profile.
Project resumes
In 2001, the Swedish Government and Parliament took the formal decision to resume the project, and the
shielded tunnel boring machine, Åsa, began work in 2005. The shield, when closed, prevented water from
flowing into the tunnel and protected the tunnel workers from falling rock. The waterproof tube that the
machine built behind itself was made of concrete segments.
Completed tunnel
In 2013, both tunnels were completed. The technical obstacles encountered during the project period had
been finally overcome. Tracks, electricity, signalling and telecommunications equipment were installed, and
the tunnel was finally opened to rail traffic in December 2015.
The completed tunnel system consists of two parallel single-track tunnels, 8.7 kilometres long. The
two tunnels are connected by 19 cross passages at intervals of no more than 500 metres, for use in
the event of an evacuation.
The Hallandsås Tunnel has enabled the payload of goods trains to be doubled and, instead of the previous
four trains an hour, the line now has capacity for up to 24 trains an hour. Trains can run at 200 km/h
compared with the previous 80 km/h, and the risk of delays has been reduced.
PROJECT FACTS
PROJECT TYPE Rail traffic tunnel
TIME OF CONSTRUCTION 1993-2015
PROJECT COST SEK 10,500 million
EXCAVATED ROCK (M3
) Approx 1,500,000 m3
OWNER Swedish Transport Administration
PROJECT MANAGER Swedish Transport Administration
MAIN DESIGNER Skanska-Vinci HB
MAIN CONTRACTOR Skanska-Vinci HB
https://www.globalrailwayreview.com/article/21524/constructing-the-complicated-hallandsas-tunnel/
Constructing the complicated Hallandsås Tunnel
Following many years of troublesome construction work, both rail tunnels through the Hallandsås Ridge
in Southern Sweden were completed ain 2013. Initiated back in 1992, the construction project has
generated more headlines in the Swedish media than any other. Ulf Angberg – Communications
Manager for the Hallandsås Project at the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) – takes a
look back at what caused the project to be delayed, how problems were overcome, and what stage the
project is currently at.
Photo: Skanska
The tunnel through Hallandsås has attracted a lot of attention from the very beginning. The project was
also plagued with difficulties. The two 8.7km-long tunnels were completed as part of the third
construction contract, following problems and ultimately failure of the initial two. Difficulties mainly
involved the extremely varied nature of the rock found in the ridge and the large volumes of water. The
environmental restrictions imposed were also stringent and an even greater focus was placed on the
environment following leakage of a sealing compound in autumn 1997. There has been a rigorous effort
to review all chemicals used, from office material to injection grout. The environmental programme has
more than 800 checkpoints, monitoring everything from changes in flora and fauna to groundwater
levels.
Photo: Map of the Hallandsås tunnel route.
The tunnelling project challenged the technical boundaries from the very beginning with the ridge’s
highly varied geological conditions and extreme water pressures. The problems were evident from the
outset, affecting the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) Hallbor. Kraftbyggarna was the name of the
state-owned company that was tasked with drilling through the ridge. Hallborr was shown to be entirely
unsuited to the job at hand in terms of its design, with its open structure being more appropriate for
hard-rock conditions. Hallborr got stuck and sank in the loose material at the mouth of the northern
side of the ridge.
Following efforts using conventional technology, the schedule could no longer be maintained and the
first contractor gave up and had to pay damages to the client – the National Swedish Rail
Administration.
The project was re-started in 1995 with the commissioning of Swedish construction giant Skanska. On
this occasion, the ridge would be conquered using conventional Swedish engineering methods, namely,
drilling and blasting. But the problem of stopping the inflow of leaking water was underestimated. The
ruling of the Water Rights Court stipulating an inflow of water of 33 litres a second was exceeded
almost immediately.
In consultation with the client, the ill-fated decision to deploy chemical sealing was made. Rhoca gil, a
two-component thermosetting plastic containing acrylamide was to be injected into the softest sections
of the rock. Much of the solution injected returned in the seepage water, covering tunnel workers, and
was subsequently directed into various small streams and a river.
The scandal broke in late-summer 1997. Cows that drank from the polluted streams were paralysed and
crops from the region had to be destroyed. Tunnel workers were diagnosed with high blood acrylamide
levels and suffered nerve damage in their hands and feet.
When the injection of Rhoca gil was halted, some 1,400 tonnes of the sealant had been used.
Construction on the tunnel was stopped and work stood still for seven years.
The initial part of this period was spent performing remediation work, tests and sealing the sections of
tunnel already completed. Approximately one-third of the tunnel was completed when work drew to a
halt. A 900m work tunnel between the two tunnels had also been constructed to increase the pace of
the work.
The scandal involving the poisonous compound had undermined public and political confidence in the
tunnel project. For a long time there was a great deal of uncertainty concerning whether the project
would actually be completed. Several new investigations were performed, concluding that it would be
possible to complete the tunnels without seriously damaging the environment. But now the price and
the technology to be deployed would be of an entirely different scale. Boring the tunnels and lining
them with concrete was deemed to be the only reasonable method.
Since the signing of the first contract in 1992, major advancements in terms of the operation of TBMs
had also taken place.
However, it was still not possible to find an operator that could meet all of the requirements imposed.
At its height, the Hallandsås tunnel would need to support a water column of 150m, or 15 bar. To
prevent all leakage, a TBM would need to withstand and be able to drill through such pressure. On top
of this was the problem of the highly varied nature of the ridge’s geology. By now, much more
information had been gathered concerning the challenges the rock presented in the two-thirds of the
tunnel that remained.
In conjunction with the third tendering process and construction contract, an application was also filed
to increase the volume of water that could be released during the construction period. The court also
gave its approval to triple the volume of groundwater released to 100 litres a second.
The National Swedish Rail Administration selected the construction consortium Skanska-Vinci, and now
the TBM would once again be the tool of choice. However, there were few other similarities with the
scrapped Hallborr TBM. With the new TBM from Herrenknecht, nicknamed Åsa, it would be possible to
operate in both an open position and a closed, pressurised position. An extra-strong lining tube was
installed behind the cutterhead and inside the robust shield to withstand the pressure of the water and
surrounding rock.
The TBM was a unique compromise to cope with both soft and hard rock while being able to withstand
higher water pressure than any other TBM. Another special aspect of the design was the ability to
conduct test excavations and strengthen the rock in front of the cutterhead by injecting grout.
In conjunction with the re-start, it was also decided to switch sides; the new TBM Åsa would instead
begin from the southern end. The aim was to allow more time for work on the most difficult section –
the Mölleback zone, which is at the northern end.
The tactic deployed was to blast a pilot tunnel from the northern side between the two future rail
tunnels to reach the Mölleback zone. The extremely poor rock would be stabilised using a unique
method involving the drilling of long horizontal freeze holes.
To ensure that it would be possible to drill holes of such lengths with sufficient precision, a test was
carried out at ground level in summer 2003 near the Lyabäcken stream. Once again, the entire project
was almost derailed on account of this test. Cement and bentonite slurry seeped up to ground level and
killed fish in the little stream. While this was a relatively minor incident, it generated a great deal of
anger and added new fuel to groups who were already critical of the project. Following remediation
measures to the channel, the lasting damage to the stream was minimal.
Despite all of the adaptations, Åsa encountered problems when work on the tunnel commenced in
2005. The starting point in a cavern immediately prior to a challenging section almost ended badly. A
collapse already occurred at ring 16 of the southeast tunnel. It took time to clean up the area, reinforce
the surrounding rock and start up the TBM again.
It also soon became apparent that it would not be possible to use Åsa as it was originally intended. The
concept of boring the tunnel with the TBM in the closed position worked much worse than expected.
However, the option of closing the machine so that it functioned like a large cork proved valuable,
enabling the inflow of water to be controlled so that the ruling of the Environmental Court was not
exceeded.
Due to the extremely large volumes of water involved, the bentonite suspension that was to be used to
transport the crushed rock out was not sufficiently thick enough. This caused enormous wear on the
pipe system running to the rear of the TBM, which resulted in constant breakdowns.
There were also major difficulties when backfilling the areas between the rock and the lining built by
Åsa. A modified cutterhead fitted midway through the mid-audit improved the speed of the advance.
And with a steady flow of improvements to the methods used to inject the rock and stop the inflow of
water along the tunnel, the TBM moved slowly forward. But the first, southernmost part of the
Mölleback zone that was pre-treated from the pilot tunnel in the north caused major problems.
Injecting the rock from the TBM to further strengthen the strata dominated activities.
If boring the first tunnel was beset with problems, the Swedish Transport Administration and
Skanska-Vinci could instead celebrate the first major success that involved the difficult freezing
procedure. The process of freezing a section measuring approximately 130m in two stages was more
successful and quicker than expected. When the TBM Åsa reached the frozen rock, the rest of the work
was swift and nearly problem-free.
The major breakthrough came on 25 August 2010 with the completion of the eastern tunnel. Finally,
there was proof that it was actually possible to build tunnels using the methods chosen by the National
Swedish Rail Administration and Skanska-Vinci. Up until that point, many people believed that there
would never be any tunnels through Hallandsås.
The next phase, the relocation of the 200m-long TBM from north to south, and the subsequent re-start
in the western tunnel, was also trouble-free. The large front part of Åsa was dismantled and transported
by truck over the ridge, while the rear section was pulled back through the finished tunnel.
Another new and modified cutterhead had also been ordered for the re-start. A better-designed
cutterhead, experience and continuously improved methods meant that the second journey through
the ridge went significantly smoother and without any major mishaps.
Boring of the western tunnel started in March 2011 and the final major breakthrough was made on 4
September 2013. Tunnelling time had been cut by one-third compared with the eastern tunnel.
Photo: Boring machine breaks through.
Three major changes were made at the re-start of the second tunnel. The National Swedish Rail
Administration applied for and was granted a new ruling from the Water Rights Court. The limit was
raised from 100 to 150 litres per second. Relatively soon it could be seen that, in reality, the higher limit
entailed lower water inflow. The TBM could bore faster and thus seal the rock quicker, and more rapid
advance through the ridge meant a lower impact on the environment.
Following the good results from the freezing project, the section to which the method would be applied
was extended in the western tunnel to 200m. Another section of the very poorest rock was easy for the
TBM to penetrate.
Other difficult sections were strengthened by injecting grout before the TBM reached them. This was
done from some of the 19 cross passages, which will be used for evacuation of the rail tunnels when
they are operational.
Before the actual tunnelling work was completed, preparations for the construction of the rail lines had
already reached an advanced stage. The concrete plant in Åstorp, 50km to the south of the tunnels,
which had manufactured the slightly more than 40,000 lining segments, was given another major
manufacturing assignment for Hallandsås. This time it was for cable ducting, which was installed in the
track ballast at an early stage. Walkways would subsequently be installed over these for use in the event
of a train evacuation. Once the cable reels were brought on-site, it only took three days per tunnel to
roll-out the heavy-duty high-voltage cables.
Work is currently under way on lighting and power supply. Signal boxes and other technical equipment
are being installed in the cross passages. Some 750km of fibre optic cable will also be installed in the
tunnels. The train tracks will be laid next summer and 2015 will be used to test all of the technology,
including the surveillance equipment. Safety standards have been raised significantly since the tunnel
project was initiated at the beginning of the 1990s. As a result, there has been a major investment in
the installation of surveillance cameras in addition to other measures, such as an inner layer of fire
protection mortar that can withstand extreme heat and permanent pipe installations for water used to
extinguish fires.
Aside from the work inside the tunnels, three small-scale stations are also being constructed that also
form part of the project: two in the south and one new station for Båstad located 1km to the north of
the mouths of the tunnels.
Following the most recent re-write of the construction contract, the project has been on schedule and
budget. The price tag is still SEK 10.5 billion calculated in terms of the monetary value of 2008.
And even the challenging environmental goals were met. Currently, the inflow of water is about 12 litres
per second, less than half the permissible volume, and better than what the National Rail
Administration dared to hope for. Following the initial scandals, the project has been subject to a
far-reaching ecological control programme. The conclusion to date is that the tunnels have resulted in
hardly any noticeable permanent damage on the unique nature of the Hallandsås Ridge.
When the first decisions regarding the tunnels were made, the main reasons given were to increase
capacity for freight services on the West Coast Line, one of Sweden’s most important rail lines. At that
time, the volume of passenger traffic was minimal. Over the course of the long period of construction,
there has been an enormous boom in passenger volumes on trains in the southwest of Sweden. Now no
one is questioning the need to replace the twisty and steep rail line from the 1800s over the Hallandsås
ridge with a modern railway line that can handle six times the number of trains per hour. Instead of
80km/h, it will be permitted to travel at 200km/h, and shipment weights can be doubled.
Hallandsås Tunnel project facts
What: Two 8.7km-long parallel railway tunnels through the Hallandsås Ridge; the longest railway tunnel
in Sweden.
Why: To increase the capacity through Hallandsås from four trains per hour to 24 and double potential
freight weight. Part of the West Coast Line.
Present situation: Tunnel works finished and railway installations have begun.
Construction began: 1992 but stopped due to ground water problems in 1997. Construction
recommenced in 2005.
Traffic to commence: 2015.
Cost: A total of SEK 10.5 billion in 2008 monetary value.
Waterproofing: PREDIMAX Injection hose system
Photo: TBM Tunnel

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Artikel_Hallandsås Tunnel – Sweden Underground_PREDIMAX Injektionsschlauch_GB-en.pdf

  • 1. https://swedenunderground.com/tunnel/hallandsas-tunnel/ Hallandsås Tunnel The route of the West Coast Line over the Hallandsås Ridge had been a bottleneck for nearly a century. The solution was to build a tunnel through the ridge, but the project encountered major problems and proved to be a major challenge for Swedish rock construction engineers. The Hallandsås Tunnel is part of an extensive programme to expand and modernise the Swedish rail network. An efficient rail line along the west coast of Sweden facilitates commuting, and more goods can be transported by rail. The West Coast Line is also an important link for long-distance rail traffic, for example between Copenhagen and Oslo. Photo: Skanska Geological complications The Hallandsås Ridge is one of the horsts formed in Skåne at the end of the Cretaceous period, approximately 70-100 million years ago. The geology in the ridge is varied, comprising gneiss and amphibolite, as well as granite and diabase, and the rock quality ranges from solid to completely weathered. Many parts are highly fractured and contain large quantities of water. The heterogeneous nature of the rock and variations in rock quality presented challenges from a rock engineering perspective. Groundwater problems The Hallandsås Tunnel project began in 1992. Shortly after the start of the work large inflows of groundwater were noticed in the northern tunnels, lowering groundwater levels and water levels in nearby wells. None of the grouting agents tested could penetrate the finest cracks and seal the tunnel. A chemical grouting agent, which had been used in many other tunnel projects all over the world, was then tested. This comprised two components based on acrylamide, which is toxic but rendered harmless when the individual molecules bond together in chains through polymerisation.
  • 2. Illustration: Petter Lönegård In October 1997, however, it was discovered that some of the agent had not completely polymerised because of the abundant groundwater flow and the high water pressure. Some of the acrylamide did not polymerise at all and remained in its toxic state, polluting the water in the streams into which the tunnel water was discharged. Fish died and cattle that drank from the streams suffered paralysis. There was also concern about local drinking water and the work environment in the tunnel. The tunnel project came to a halt in 1997 when the problem of acrylamide discharge became known. Studies showed that the drill and blast method would cause great inflows of water during the period of construction, so this problem had to be addressed. Conclusions were that the tunnels needed to be sealed using an enclosed concrete lining, and that a shielded tunnel boring machine must be used. Another important lesson learned was that environmental consideration, control, and information to the public must be given a high profile. Project resumes In 2001, the Swedish Government and Parliament took the formal decision to resume the project, and the shielded tunnel boring machine, Åsa, began work in 2005. The shield, when closed, prevented water from flowing into the tunnel and protected the tunnel workers from falling rock. The waterproof tube that the machine built behind itself was made of concrete segments. Completed tunnel In 2013, both tunnels were completed. The technical obstacles encountered during the project period had been finally overcome. Tracks, electricity, signalling and telecommunications equipment were installed, and the tunnel was finally opened to rail traffic in December 2015. The completed tunnel system consists of two parallel single-track tunnels, 8.7 kilometres long. The two tunnels are connected by 19 cross passages at intervals of no more than 500 metres, for use in the event of an evacuation. The Hallandsås Tunnel has enabled the payload of goods trains to be doubled and, instead of the previous four trains an hour, the line now has capacity for up to 24 trains an hour. Trains can run at 200 km/h compared with the previous 80 km/h, and the risk of delays has been reduced.
  • 3. PROJECT FACTS PROJECT TYPE Rail traffic tunnel TIME OF CONSTRUCTION 1993-2015 PROJECT COST SEK 10,500 million EXCAVATED ROCK (M3 ) Approx 1,500,000 m3 OWNER Swedish Transport Administration PROJECT MANAGER Swedish Transport Administration MAIN DESIGNER Skanska-Vinci HB MAIN CONTRACTOR Skanska-Vinci HB
  • 4. https://www.globalrailwayreview.com/article/21524/constructing-the-complicated-hallandsas-tunnel/ Constructing the complicated Hallandsås Tunnel Following many years of troublesome construction work, both rail tunnels through the Hallandsås Ridge in Southern Sweden were completed ain 2013. Initiated back in 1992, the construction project has generated more headlines in the Swedish media than any other. Ulf Angberg – Communications Manager for the Hallandsås Project at the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket) – takes a look back at what caused the project to be delayed, how problems were overcome, and what stage the project is currently at. Photo: Skanska The tunnel through Hallandsås has attracted a lot of attention from the very beginning. The project was also plagued with difficulties. The two 8.7km-long tunnels were completed as part of the third construction contract, following problems and ultimately failure of the initial two. Difficulties mainly involved the extremely varied nature of the rock found in the ridge and the large volumes of water. The environmental restrictions imposed were also stringent and an even greater focus was placed on the environment following leakage of a sealing compound in autumn 1997. There has been a rigorous effort to review all chemicals used, from office material to injection grout. The environmental programme has more than 800 checkpoints, monitoring everything from changes in flora and fauna to groundwater levels.
  • 5. Photo: Map of the Hallandsås tunnel route. The tunnelling project challenged the technical boundaries from the very beginning with the ridge’s highly varied geological conditions and extreme water pressures. The problems were evident from the outset, affecting the first tunnel boring machine (TBM) Hallbor. Kraftbyggarna was the name of the state-owned company that was tasked with drilling through the ridge. Hallborr was shown to be entirely unsuited to the job at hand in terms of its design, with its open structure being more appropriate for hard-rock conditions. Hallborr got stuck and sank in the loose material at the mouth of the northern side of the ridge. Following efforts using conventional technology, the schedule could no longer be maintained and the first contractor gave up and had to pay damages to the client – the National Swedish Rail Administration. The project was re-started in 1995 with the commissioning of Swedish construction giant Skanska. On this occasion, the ridge would be conquered using conventional Swedish engineering methods, namely, drilling and blasting. But the problem of stopping the inflow of leaking water was underestimated. The ruling of the Water Rights Court stipulating an inflow of water of 33 litres a second was exceeded almost immediately. In consultation with the client, the ill-fated decision to deploy chemical sealing was made. Rhoca gil, a two-component thermosetting plastic containing acrylamide was to be injected into the softest sections of the rock. Much of the solution injected returned in the seepage water, covering tunnel workers, and was subsequently directed into various small streams and a river. The scandal broke in late-summer 1997. Cows that drank from the polluted streams were paralysed and crops from the region had to be destroyed. Tunnel workers were diagnosed with high blood acrylamide levels and suffered nerve damage in their hands and feet. When the injection of Rhoca gil was halted, some 1,400 tonnes of the sealant had been used. Construction on the tunnel was stopped and work stood still for seven years. The initial part of this period was spent performing remediation work, tests and sealing the sections of tunnel already completed. Approximately one-third of the tunnel was completed when work drew to a
  • 6. halt. A 900m work tunnel between the two tunnels had also been constructed to increase the pace of the work. The scandal involving the poisonous compound had undermined public and political confidence in the tunnel project. For a long time there was a great deal of uncertainty concerning whether the project would actually be completed. Several new investigations were performed, concluding that it would be possible to complete the tunnels without seriously damaging the environment. But now the price and the technology to be deployed would be of an entirely different scale. Boring the tunnels and lining them with concrete was deemed to be the only reasonable method. Since the signing of the first contract in 1992, major advancements in terms of the operation of TBMs had also taken place. However, it was still not possible to find an operator that could meet all of the requirements imposed. At its height, the Hallandsås tunnel would need to support a water column of 150m, or 15 bar. To prevent all leakage, a TBM would need to withstand and be able to drill through such pressure. On top of this was the problem of the highly varied nature of the ridge’s geology. By now, much more information had been gathered concerning the challenges the rock presented in the two-thirds of the tunnel that remained. In conjunction with the third tendering process and construction contract, an application was also filed to increase the volume of water that could be released during the construction period. The court also gave its approval to triple the volume of groundwater released to 100 litres a second. The National Swedish Rail Administration selected the construction consortium Skanska-Vinci, and now the TBM would once again be the tool of choice. However, there were few other similarities with the scrapped Hallborr TBM. With the new TBM from Herrenknecht, nicknamed Åsa, it would be possible to operate in both an open position and a closed, pressurised position. An extra-strong lining tube was installed behind the cutterhead and inside the robust shield to withstand the pressure of the water and surrounding rock. The TBM was a unique compromise to cope with both soft and hard rock while being able to withstand higher water pressure than any other TBM. Another special aspect of the design was the ability to conduct test excavations and strengthen the rock in front of the cutterhead by injecting grout. In conjunction with the re-start, it was also decided to switch sides; the new TBM Åsa would instead begin from the southern end. The aim was to allow more time for work on the most difficult section – the Mölleback zone, which is at the northern end. The tactic deployed was to blast a pilot tunnel from the northern side between the two future rail tunnels to reach the Mölleback zone. The extremely poor rock would be stabilised using a unique method involving the drilling of long horizontal freeze holes. To ensure that it would be possible to drill holes of such lengths with sufficient precision, a test was carried out at ground level in summer 2003 near the Lyabäcken stream. Once again, the entire project was almost derailed on account of this test. Cement and bentonite slurry seeped up to ground level and killed fish in the little stream. While this was a relatively minor incident, it generated a great deal of anger and added new fuel to groups who were already critical of the project. Following remediation measures to the channel, the lasting damage to the stream was minimal. Despite all of the adaptations, Åsa encountered problems when work on the tunnel commenced in 2005. The starting point in a cavern immediately prior to a challenging section almost ended badly. A collapse already occurred at ring 16 of the southeast tunnel. It took time to clean up the area, reinforce the surrounding rock and start up the TBM again.
  • 7. It also soon became apparent that it would not be possible to use Åsa as it was originally intended. The concept of boring the tunnel with the TBM in the closed position worked much worse than expected. However, the option of closing the machine so that it functioned like a large cork proved valuable, enabling the inflow of water to be controlled so that the ruling of the Environmental Court was not exceeded. Due to the extremely large volumes of water involved, the bentonite suspension that was to be used to transport the crushed rock out was not sufficiently thick enough. This caused enormous wear on the pipe system running to the rear of the TBM, which resulted in constant breakdowns. There were also major difficulties when backfilling the areas between the rock and the lining built by Åsa. A modified cutterhead fitted midway through the mid-audit improved the speed of the advance. And with a steady flow of improvements to the methods used to inject the rock and stop the inflow of water along the tunnel, the TBM moved slowly forward. But the first, southernmost part of the Mölleback zone that was pre-treated from the pilot tunnel in the north caused major problems. Injecting the rock from the TBM to further strengthen the strata dominated activities. If boring the first tunnel was beset with problems, the Swedish Transport Administration and Skanska-Vinci could instead celebrate the first major success that involved the difficult freezing procedure. The process of freezing a section measuring approximately 130m in two stages was more successful and quicker than expected. When the TBM Åsa reached the frozen rock, the rest of the work was swift and nearly problem-free. The major breakthrough came on 25 August 2010 with the completion of the eastern tunnel. Finally, there was proof that it was actually possible to build tunnels using the methods chosen by the National Swedish Rail Administration and Skanska-Vinci. Up until that point, many people believed that there would never be any tunnels through Hallandsås. The next phase, the relocation of the 200m-long TBM from north to south, and the subsequent re-start in the western tunnel, was also trouble-free. The large front part of Åsa was dismantled and transported by truck over the ridge, while the rear section was pulled back through the finished tunnel. Another new and modified cutterhead had also been ordered for the re-start. A better-designed cutterhead, experience and continuously improved methods meant that the second journey through the ridge went significantly smoother and without any major mishaps. Boring of the western tunnel started in March 2011 and the final major breakthrough was made on 4 September 2013. Tunnelling time had been cut by one-third compared with the eastern tunnel. Photo: Boring machine breaks through.
  • 8. Three major changes were made at the re-start of the second tunnel. The National Swedish Rail Administration applied for and was granted a new ruling from the Water Rights Court. The limit was raised from 100 to 150 litres per second. Relatively soon it could be seen that, in reality, the higher limit entailed lower water inflow. The TBM could bore faster and thus seal the rock quicker, and more rapid advance through the ridge meant a lower impact on the environment. Following the good results from the freezing project, the section to which the method would be applied was extended in the western tunnel to 200m. Another section of the very poorest rock was easy for the TBM to penetrate. Other difficult sections were strengthened by injecting grout before the TBM reached them. This was done from some of the 19 cross passages, which will be used for evacuation of the rail tunnels when they are operational. Before the actual tunnelling work was completed, preparations for the construction of the rail lines had already reached an advanced stage. The concrete plant in Åstorp, 50km to the south of the tunnels, which had manufactured the slightly more than 40,000 lining segments, was given another major manufacturing assignment for Hallandsås. This time it was for cable ducting, which was installed in the track ballast at an early stage. Walkways would subsequently be installed over these for use in the event of a train evacuation. Once the cable reels were brought on-site, it only took three days per tunnel to roll-out the heavy-duty high-voltage cables. Work is currently under way on lighting and power supply. Signal boxes and other technical equipment are being installed in the cross passages. Some 750km of fibre optic cable will also be installed in the tunnels. The train tracks will be laid next summer and 2015 will be used to test all of the technology, including the surveillance equipment. Safety standards have been raised significantly since the tunnel project was initiated at the beginning of the 1990s. As a result, there has been a major investment in the installation of surveillance cameras in addition to other measures, such as an inner layer of fire protection mortar that can withstand extreme heat and permanent pipe installations for water used to extinguish fires. Aside from the work inside the tunnels, three small-scale stations are also being constructed that also form part of the project: two in the south and one new station for Båstad located 1km to the north of the mouths of the tunnels. Following the most recent re-write of the construction contract, the project has been on schedule and budget. The price tag is still SEK 10.5 billion calculated in terms of the monetary value of 2008. And even the challenging environmental goals were met. Currently, the inflow of water is about 12 litres per second, less than half the permissible volume, and better than what the National Rail Administration dared to hope for. Following the initial scandals, the project has been subject to a far-reaching ecological control programme. The conclusion to date is that the tunnels have resulted in hardly any noticeable permanent damage on the unique nature of the Hallandsås Ridge. When the first decisions regarding the tunnels were made, the main reasons given were to increase capacity for freight services on the West Coast Line, one of Sweden’s most important rail lines. At that time, the volume of passenger traffic was minimal. Over the course of the long period of construction, there has been an enormous boom in passenger volumes on trains in the southwest of Sweden. Now no one is questioning the need to replace the twisty and steep rail line from the 1800s over the Hallandsås ridge with a modern railway line that can handle six times the number of trains per hour. Instead of 80km/h, it will be permitted to travel at 200km/h, and shipment weights can be doubled. Hallandsås Tunnel project facts
  • 9. What: Two 8.7km-long parallel railway tunnels through the Hallandsås Ridge; the longest railway tunnel in Sweden. Why: To increase the capacity through Hallandsås from four trains per hour to 24 and double potential freight weight. Part of the West Coast Line. Present situation: Tunnel works finished and railway installations have begun. Construction began: 1992 but stopped due to ground water problems in 1997. Construction recommenced in 2005. Traffic to commence: 2015. Cost: A total of SEK 10.5 billion in 2008 monetary value. Waterproofing: PREDIMAX Injection hose system Photo: TBM Tunnel