Tunnel boring machines largest in the region, says Wee

BENTONG: The two tunnel boring machines (TBMs), which will excavate the twin-bore Genting Tunnel portion of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), are the largest of their kind in South-East Asia, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

With a cutter head diameter of 8.98m, the entire TBM will be 266m long when fully assembled and will weigh in at 1,600 tonnes, making them the largest ever put to work in South-East Asia, said Dr Wee after he visited the Genting tunnel portion here yesterday.

Also present were former transport minister Tan Sri Liow Tiong Lai as well as Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali, chairman of Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL), the project owner.

The two TBMs will bore two tunnels through the Titiwangsa mountain range, each 16.39km long, to provide a much-needed direct path between Bentong in Pahang and Gombak in Selangor.

“At 16.39km, this is the longest rail tunnel in South-East Asia,” added Dr Wee.

He called the ECRL Liow’s “baby” since the project was conceived during Liow’s tenure in the Cabinet from 2014 to 2018.

“This project was started during Tan Sri’s tenure as Transport Minister,” said Dr Wee.

Manufactured by the China Communications Construction Company’s (CCCC) Tianhe Mac-hinery and Equipment Manu-facturing Co Ltd in Shanghai, the machines are custom-made for use in the hard-rock geology of this particular part of the Main Range.

The TBMs will begin their underground journey in March and can bore a distance of 700m each month in good conditions.

Noting that the excavation work at the Genting Tunnel is set to be a challenging feat, Dr Wee said CCCC-ECRL had been allowed by the government to bring in foreign assistance to complete the job because it is racing against time to complete the entire project from Kota Baru to Port Klang by Dec 31, 2026.

“So I hope MRL and CCCC can expedite the whole process,” he added.

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