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Raising EPB Performance in Metro-Sized Machines

Singapore is employing more than 29 earth pressure balance machines (EPBMs) to excavate a single 21 km metro line, Downtown Line 3. Moscow is adding 50 km of new metro line by 2016, 150 km by 2020. China will expand their metro lines tenfold by 2050 to more than 11,700 km. China’s plans for the next two years require 250 EPBMs. With such extensive global metro expansion plans, increasing EPBM performance would have a monumentally positive economic impact, with tunnels being excavated in less time and at lower cost. EPBMs on several projects have recently set performance records. In this paper, the authors examine these and other projects, searching for clues as to why some EPBMs perform at higher rates than others and attempt to determine which causes are in the control of contractors, which in control of the machine designers and how one might replicate high performance on future projects.


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