TBM at Bahce Nurdag Railway Project

Longest Railway Tunnel of Turkey under Construction

The railway project connecting Bahce (Osmaniye) to Nurdag (Gaziantep) which involves the longest railway tunnel of Turkey steps to an important phase: TBM starts to be used.

This project is under construction on the toughest part of Turkey’s busiest railway section, Toprakkale-Malatya, where trains can proceed only with the support of additional loco. With this project:

  • section will be 15-km shorter (current Bahce-Fevzipasa-Nurdag raillway is 32,5 km long, new railway will be 17 km long);
  • no more steep gradients (gradient will drop from 27‰ to 15‰);
  • no more sharp turns (curve diameter will increase from 500m to 1500m)
  • faster trains (train speeds will increase from 40 km/h to 120 km/h)
  • saving from time, fuel, rolling stock and man power

17-km-long double-track railway will have Turkey’s longest railway tunnels, each 10.1-km-long. Diameter of tunnels is 8 meter.

Bahce Nurdag Railway Route Map
Bahce Nurdag Railway Route Map

The pre-excavation works completed and TBM started working last week with a ceremony. The construction works will now speed up.

The excavation machine (TBM – Tunnel Boring Machine) is manufactured by The Robbins Company. It has a diameter of 8 m, and is designed for working in various type of ground on the tunnel route. With “crossover” features, it’ll get through very difficult conditions that would normally require a pressurized TBM. The machine has security systems to protect machine and staff in case of high-pressure inrushes of water.

The tender for the tunnel was inked in June 2013 with Intekar Insaat which is worth TL 193 mn (€ 65 mn). The project was planned to end with a 1440-days-of work in 2017.

However, TBM will be able to complete one tunnel in 2 years. That means the completion of tunnel excavation will end in 2019. This may mean the first run of train through tunnel may be possible in 2023. The main reason for this delay was stated by the engineers as facing tougher conditions about ground characteristics on route.

After completion of project, Fevzipasa Station, an important rail junction today, will only be used by trains to Syria (if border is opened). The new railway will also be a part of high speed line from Adana to Habur which is in the future plans of TCDD.

Double tunnels instead of one with bigger diameter cost less and ease the maintanance operations after opening.

The Bahce-Nurdag railway project is officially added to investment plans in 2010. The total project is expected to cost TL 483 mn (€ 160 mn). TL 82.5 mn of it has been spent by the end of 2015.

Photo: The Robbins Company

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