QUEEN'S ROAD: Could the awful winter in Italy have a negative impact on the lives of Bengaluru commuters? Yes. The launch of passenger operations of Namma Metro on the North-South corridor, slated for December, depends wholly on the import of a vital machine part from that country.
Winter storms in Italy, an official source said, have delayed the crucial shipment. Project engineers are waiting for a massive front cutter head, the most important part in the tunnel-boring machine Godavari, according to an official source. Godavari is Italian-made.
This machine holds the key to the completion of the 24.2-km North-South corridor between Nagasandra and Puttenahalli.
The cutter head alone weighs nearly 70 tonnes in the huge boring machine, which weighs 450 tonnes.
“It is now doubtful if this corridor will be completed by December if the delay continues. Trial runs need to begin two months prior to that,” the source said.
According to the original plan, Godavari was to restart tunnelling by February-end, but the part has not arrived in India yet.
In July 2014, Godavari was boring 60 feet under the ground for a tunnel from Mantri Square to Sampige Road when the cutter hit hard rocks and developed serious cracks.
Experts tried various strategies to fix the cracks but when nothing worked, decided to import a brand new cutter all the way from Italy.
Three tunnel boring machines, called TBMs in official parlance, are working along the North-South corridor now. “The TBMs are of different makes and so parts cannot be interchanged. The only solution is to import spares,” the official said.
Godavari had completed a 350-metre stretch near Mantri Square. Work ground to a halt when the machine conked out midway near the Lakshmanapuri slums. Tunnelling in the rest of the 615 metres, from this point towards Majestic, is yet to begin.
TBM Margarita is working in the reverse direction, from Majestic towards Sampige Road, and has developed no problems so far.
Krishna and Cauvery TBMs, working in the same direction, have completed tunnelling from K R Road to City Market and are slated to continue between Chickpet and Majestic.
A confident Pradeep Singh Kharola, Managing Director of Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited, had told an FKCCI meeting recently, “The cutter is being shipped from Italy this week and will take roughly 25 days to reach here.”
If the cutter arrives in time, Phase I will be open to the public by December 2015.
Work needs to be done once the expected shipment arrives. A shaft is being created near the spot where the machine stopped working. The damaged front cutter will then be removed and taken to the surface while the new cutter is sent down and attached to the machine.
Kharola told City Express, the delay would not affect the completion of the North-South corridor.
“We have cushion time for that. Work by the other TBM is going pretty fast and will be ready in three to four months,” he said.
He hopes the weather in Italy will clear up in a few days. The weatherman is not so optimistic, though.
The winter storm is going strong across Europe and severe gales are predicted on the Italian coast, according to news forecasts.