REM tunnel-boring machine – It will be an impressive, huge piece of machinery used in digging a 3.5km long tunnel from the Technoparc in St. Laurent all the way to Montreal-Trudeau airport for the REM trains that will travel through it. The parts for the REM’s tunnel-boring machine (TBM) arrived in Montreal on October 30th and once assembled, it will be digging a tunnel more than 30 metres below the airport runways and the wetlands at the Technoparc. And the REM wants your help in naming it.
They have opened a contest to Montrealer’s asking them to submit their ideas. Following tradition, the TBM will be placed ‘under the symbolic protection of a godmother’ – and therefore the first name must be female. The winning name will be chosen by an internal committee formed by TBM managers of the REM project office and NouvLR. The winner will receive a tour of the site and invited to the inauguration of the tunnel-boring machine. To help you along with a few name ideas, you can check out the pictures – and here is some interesting information about the machine and the process involved. (To enter the contest see below).
ABOUT: Until now, digging tunnels was systematically carried out by drilling and blasting – as they did when the metro system was under construction. It is the first time a tunnel-boring machine of this type has been used in Montreal and Quebec, with the capability of digging both through rock and assembling the tunnel at the same time. The reason the tunnel will be 30 metres underground is first to protect the wetlands at the Technoparc and then of course to pass under the runways of the airport. Given the huge size of the machine, it had to be delivered in pieces and needed about 60 trucks to do so. For the next step, they will assemble everything and then test the specialized equipment. Drilling will then follow in the coming months.
HOW A TUNNEL-BORING MACHINE WORKS: They explain it as being alike to a mobile factory, moving forward as the work progresses. The ‘gigantic circular machine’ is over 100 metres long and includes several specialized items: a belt conveyor, cockpit and about 10 workers inside of it such as operators, mechanics, electricians and handlers.
THREE MAIN OPERATIONS (DIG, EVACUATE, BUILD):
– Dig: The 7.38-metre diameter cutter head bores into the ground. It is composed of 47 discs (that each apply 25 tons of pressure) breaking up the ground and basically devouring the rock. It is specifically designed and adapted to the type of soil through which the REM will pass.
– Evacuate: The excavated material is evacuated by a ‘worm screw’ and transferred to a belt conveyor, then loaded into trucks at the end of the TBM for disposal.
– Build: The erector installs seven prefabricated segments to form a waterproof ring. Each ring is made of seven segments. In total, 1,800 rings (or 12,600 segments) will need to be installed in order to complete the tunnel. The whole procedure is being called a ‘technological marvel’ as it will be capable of digging 1.70 metres and assembling a ring in just one hour – moving forward much faster than any other type of tunnel digging machine. And more importantly, it will be safe for workers.