Engineers at the site say tunnels are being made using the new Austrian tunneling method, different from TBMs, and cheaper. TBM Surya is at work on the opposite end, boring a tunnel that will connect Cuffe Parade metro station to 25 other stations on metro line 3, including the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) station.
The target now is to complete the Cuffe Parade station by June 2022, a 10-month delay from the initially expected timeline. “There are various challenges, one of them is that we need to wait for lean traffic hours to move heavy material and equipment," said an engineer.
Moving materials in Mumbai's traffic, keeping Mithi's water out of the metro tunnels and meeting a deadline, initially set for 2021, are few of the many challenges for city planners. Kolkata, too, in February, got a second phase of its metro system, which includes tunnels under the Hooghly river.
The BKC station is part of the work package that includes construction of two tunnels passing under the Mithi. Around 1.1 km stretch of this tunnel will run under the river bed, with about 250 metres under the water channel and 70 metres under an active water channel.
The tunnel can be accessed through an 18-metre descend using temporary scaffolding and a ride in a makeshift rake, operated over temporary tracks. Usage of special gaskets to line segments of this tunnel, ensure water from the river does not enter it.
At the other end of this tunnel, where Tansa TBM is deployed. The Tansa is stationed there to bore its way out towards the Dharavi-end. The breakthrough is expected by middle of March. “The 42 disc cutters on TBMs need to be regularly serviced. The labourers are servicing it today,” said one of the engineers present there.
The BKC station is planned to be a three-line station, two lines for regular operations and the third to allow reversing of trains. For every two trains that come from Cuffe Parade to BKC, one would be reversed to Cuffe Parade and one will continue ahead northwards. This planned station is expected to be an intersection for two different metro lines and will allow scope for direct connection to the proposed bullet train network.
It takes more than an hour to reach the under-construction BKC station from Cuffe Parade, a 24 km journey. Once Surya, Tansa and other TBMs complete their work, city authorities say the travel time will be shorter. For now the wait extends to 2021 for the north stretch of metro line 3, while the second stretch towards Cuffe Parade may take longer.