Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

Teamwork Made
the Dream Work

The untold stories behind the final TBM breakthrough of the MRT Putrajaya Line

Adam Anand Row

For many of the tunnel crews working on the underground portion of the MRT Putrajaya Line project, the triumph of the final Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) breakthrough on 18 July 2020 at Ampang Park Station was truly bittersweet.  

While they shared the satisfaction and exhilaration of a job done exceptionally well, their celebrations were coloured by a twinge of sadness as it marked the completion of a grand adventure and unique experience that the mining works had provided.   

The Rise team caught-up with some of the Conlay tunnel team members who helped achieve the final TBM breakthrough to share some thoughts on their experiences up to this point.  

 Image © Tang Tzye Wai

I feel blessed to have been q part of the Conlay tunnel team over the past two years, carving a path through both good and tough times.  

From planning, assembling, operating, disassembling and finally finishing up with post-tunnelling works, the entire team, be it plant or tunnel crew have been supportive and played a vital role in the success of the Conlay tunnelling works. 

We faced a herculean task of launching four Variable Density TBMs within six months in a congested 153-metre-long station box. Thus, it is with no small measure of pride and accomplishment that we are thrilled to have completed all four tunnel drives from Conlay to Ampang Park and Tun Razak Exchange stations, respectively.

The final breakthrough of TBM S774 at Ampang Park station was undeniably memorable. I have countless precious memories of the journey that got us here; from pushing through the 180 metres length of Persiaran KLCC Station, to operating the TBM throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) with minimal manpower and finally passing underneath the twin tunnels of LRT Kelana Jaya Line with limited cover above us before breaking into Ampang Park station. It has been a defining experience for everyone involved.

 Image © Tang Tzye Wai

Joining the MRT Putrajaya Line project as a Tunnel Engineer back in 2017, I was just a fresh graduate with limited knowledge and experience in tunnelling in particular.  

I was fortunate, however, to team up with helpful and supportive teammates who were willing to share knowledge and advice.  

Through their guidance and assistance, I learned how to control the supply sequence of rings to the TBM and to enable correct ring construction, as well gained valuable experience in Quality, Safety, Health & Environmental compliance.  

Being part of a passionate team of people working towards a common goal has been a constant source of motivation for me. 

Completing the final TBM breakthrough for Tunnel drive (TU4) was quite challenging.  

Prior to the breakthrough itself, thorough checking and testing were required with tunnel crews, mechanics and electricians all working in sync as a well-oiled unit to ensure success.  

Surveyors helped to confirm the correct positioning of the TBM, while the tunnel team closely coordinated with the Ampang Park station team to ensure both the breakthrough and the subsequent retrieval would proceed smoothly.  

The experience from start to finish reinforced our shared belief that teamwork is key to success in tunnelling. 

 Image © Tang Tzye Wai

Working with the MMC Gamuda KVMRT (T) Sdn Bhd team is in fact the culmination of a long-time goal of mine.  

Back in the day, the construction of Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART), the longest stormwater drainage tunnel in Southeast Asia, inspired me to dream of one day working in the tunnelling industry.  

I started with having no prior knowledge about tunnelling but have definitely learned a lot since completing the SL1M programme with Gamuda Berhad and joining the Conlay tunnel team as one of the Plant Engineers. 

As one of the earliest certified compressed air workers here in Conlay, my first compressed air dive in TBM S774 stands out as a cherished memory. 

My Tunnel Manager, Daniel Boylan, trusted and assigned me as team lead for the intervention works although I had yet to experience conditions within the excavation chamber.  

I’m proud to say that thanks to the steady stream of guidance via communication from the outside, I managed to lead the intervention team in achieving our objectives.  

Upon emerging to the surface and meeting Daniel again, he smiled proudly and said, “This was how I trained before, too!” It was a special moment that will stay with me forever. 

Copyright © 2020 Gamuda Berhad

The testing for the new MRT Putrajaya Line Electric Trains (ET) kicked-off on 16 June 2020 with pre-requisite fouling tests to ensure physical compatibility with the current MRT Kajang Line tracks. ET 1 then commenced powered testing from 6 to 10 July 2020, completing a successful run along a stretch of tracks on the elevated viaduct of the MRT Putrajaya Line, between Damansara Damai and Sri Damansara Sentral Station. With initial testing of checking all the right boxes, our systems engineers are now gearing up for the full-scale testing of the automatic ET systems in mid-August 2020.