The gigantic construction of the Grand Paris Express (the new express subway lines around the inner city of Paris) is now in full swing. By far the largest infrastructure project in Europe. :cheers:
Grand Paris Express: the construction project of the century
May 10, 2019
In order to build or extend the five automated lines of the Grand Paris Express, it is necessary to bore 205 kilometers of tunnels. Currently, 5000 people work underground. Here's a report.
Loïc Heddebaux, 22 y/o, leaves the control cabin of a tunnel boring machine, one of 16 such machines that will bore the new metro lines. At the Robespierre pit in Bagneux, on March 26th.
42 meters below the ground, sitting eight hours a day in a narrow cabin, Loïc Heddebaux directs his monster. A 106-meter-long beast with a cutter head 10 meters in diameter, weighing 135 tons. So it's out of question to deviate from line and grade. In the tunnel, the temperature can reach 50°C. And the pressure on workers is at a maximum. [...]
Slowly but surely, the relentless Ellen [tunnel boring machine] swallows the meters: 12 per day, 24 hours a day and 5 days a week (the weekend is for maintenance). "We're behaving like a mole," says the 22-year-old apprentice pilot. "We are going forward ; every 2 meters, the tunnel segments are laid, large pieces of concrete that form the framework of the tunnel; we swallow the materials, and we still advance ... The hardest thing is not to bore but to make sure that the tunnel support is sufficient and will not collapse." [...]
Here is being built the future Villejuif-Institut Gustave-Roussy station. In this 63-meter wide and 55-meter deep pit, two tunnel boring machines will meet each other: that of line 14 and that of line 15.
[...] Since April 19, the tunnel boring machine has already bored 16 meters. 3.4 kilometers still remain to reach the Villejuif-Louis Aragon station. Expected arrival in the summer of 2020. Today, four tunnel boring machines are progressing at this rate in the suburbs of the Paris region. But Thierry Dallard, CEO of the Société du Grand Paris (SGP), already has his eyes fixed ahead: "By the end of the year, there will be 16 TBMs." A world record! It took 11 TBMs for the Channel Tunnel but only 6 for the new Moscow Metro, inspired from the Parisian experience. "This new subway network will be built at a speed never matched before," promises the boss of the Grand Paris Express. Yet, not everything is going as planned. The works, which were to be completed in 2024, are running late. "People talk of not meeting the deadlines, but the first government decree of public utility was published on December 24, 2014. In 2030, that is to say in fifteen years, we will have built 205 kilometers of lines and 68 stations, that is to say the equivalent of the current Parisian Métro network!" [...]
Final cost has swelled from 19 to 35 billion euros, which remains enormous [despite cutting the number of metro stations], but this sum of money finances the largest infrastructure project in Europe, whose economic returns will concern 8 million people.
To finance this colossal construction project, on top of dedicated tax revenues, the Société du Grand Paris borrows from banks and financial markets. In March, a second bond issue raised € 2 billion from around one hundred international investors.