TBM breaks through in Sinai

1 May 2020

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi witnessed the breakthrough of a Herrenknecht mixshield TBM (S960B) which has finished excavating Egypt’s Ahmed Hamdy 2 road tunnel project. After 43 weeks’ tunnelling, the TBM holed through on April 22 into a water-filled receiving pit on the Sinai peninsula east of the Suez Canal. The 13m-diameter machine has excavated a total of 3,250m through mainly sound geology comprising very hard, cohesive clay of high shear strength and low permeability.

The alignment crossed a railway, residential area, irrigation channel and agricultural areas before diving 13m below the canal and resurfacing into Sinai. Overburdens have ranged from just 6m at launch to almost 50m encountered after the canal crossing. The machine has operated in dual modes along the alignment, able to switch within minutes when geological or hydrogeological changes require an increase in face support pressure.

The new tunnel is located around 500m from the original Ahmed Hamdy 1 road tunnel constructed in 1980 as a single tube, two-lane, bi-directional road tunnel. Once Ahmed Hamdy 2 opens, both tunnels will operate as mono-directional, twin-lane road tunnels. This second tunnel has been constructed as a joint venture between local firms Petrojet and Concord.

Herrenknecht S960B is no stranger to Sinai: previously in December 2017, it had completed the excavation of one of two twin-tube road tunnels under the Suez Canal at Ismailia. All the Suez tunnels have immense strategic importance as, in tying together Sinai with the Egyptian heartland they are expected to stimulate economic growth.