Genting Tunnel TBM nearing full assembly for launch

17 January 2022

Tunnelling on the Genting Tunnel which will form part of Malaysia’s East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is ramping up as the first of two Chinese-made TBMs nears full assembly and is expected to be launched by March.

Connecting Bentong in Pahang with Gombak in Selangor, construction of the 16.39km twin-bore rail tunnel will be undertaken by contractor China Communications Construction Company (CCCC). When completed, it is expected to be the longest rail tunnel in Southeast Asia.

In July 2021, the components for two hard-rock TBMs made by China-based CCCC Tianhe Mechanical Equipment Manufacturing Co arrived from Shanghai at Port Klang on Malaysia’s east coast.

At nearly 9m in diameter and 286m long, each machine will be equipped with four torque cylinders. According to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, the TBMs will be the largest of their kind to have been used in Southeast Asia and are expected to bore an average of 700m/month.

Around 200 workers currently work on the 7ha construction site near Bentong, with the nearly 180m-long launch pit nearing completion. With tunnel work anticipated to take three years to complete, project owner MRL is optimistic the machines will successfully overcome the geological challenges of the Titiwangsa mountain range.

The 665km-long ECRL will traverse the east coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang, and link with the Klang Valley and the west of the country. Launched in 2017, the scheme has undergone route changes, with the northern alignment scrapped in 2018 by the newly-elected federal government. However, it remains a critical infrastructural element that will kickstart the East Coast’s economic recovery. Currently around 30% complete, MRL anticipates the scheme to be completed by year-end 2026.