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Corrib tunnel borer built in Germany

‘Fionnuala’ tunnel borer built in Germany

Anton McNulty

A 500 tonne tunnel boring machine which will be used for the construction of the Corrib gas tunnel under Sruwaddacon Bay has been built in Germany and named Fionnuala in honour of the Children of Lir.
The 149 metre long machine painted in the Mayo colours of red and green was built in Schwanau in Germany by Herrenknecht, who are one of the largest manufacturers of tunnel boring machines in the world.
Work on the construction of the tunnel boring machine commenced in February of this year and is the largest piece of equipment that will be used on any onshore element of the Corrib project.
The machine is comprised of 14 sections, the front parts contains the 28 tonne cutter head which will drill under the bay.
The cutter head consists of 21 14 inch cutter discs, 32 scrappers and six buckets and requires two 400kw motors to turn it.
The machine is presently undergoing final testing in Germany and when the tests are completed it will be stored in Germany before being transported to Erris next summer to commence the work.
Paul Hughes, Tunnel Construction Ltd paid tribute to all those involved in the construction of the tunnel boring machine.
“Almost a year has been spent on the tunnel boring machine, between design and construction, and it has involved a huge collaborative effort between Herrenknecht, SEPIL staff and a variety of other contractors and consultants,” he said.
The tunnel will have a internal diameter of 3.5m and as each metre of the shaft is excavated the tunnel will be lined with precast interlocking concrete segments.
The tunnel will be excavated in one direction, starting at the Aughoose launch pit, and will run for a distance of approximately 4.9km to the Glengad landfall. The work of the tunnel boreer is certain to attract huge interest from locals and visitors to the area.