The rectangular TBM supplied by CREG was deployed on May 11 for an underpass at the MRT Thomson-East Coast Line's Havelock MRT station. It is the first rectangular TBM introduced to Singapore for domestic tunnel-boring construction. The pioneering attempt becomes the focus of the Singaporean media.
The Straits Times reported that “The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has become the first to use a rectangular tunnel-boring machine here, paving the way for future rail and road projects which could be speedier, cleaner and significantly less disruptive” in an article titled New tunnel-boring machine makes cutting corners perfectly sound on June 14, 2016 on its website.
According to the report, with the new method (construction by using a rectangular TBM), the underpass will be completed in "six to eight months", instead of "three to four years" with the cut-and-cover method -which involves excavating deep trenches along the entire stretch of the underpass.”
The report cites Mr. Henry Foo, who is a project director of the Thomason East-Coast Line that “rectangular tunnel-boring machines are used extensively in China, where they are employed not only for underpasses but for underground roads too.”
Another media, zaobao.com.sg covered that as the two stations Havelock and Stevens are situated at the congested central area with plenty of water pipes and cables underneath, the LTA turned to trenchless technologies to improve construction productivity, avoid road diversion and reduce disruption to the public. The authority eventually commissioned the rectangular box jack TBM from CREG which completely meets the requirement of excavating lengths of up to 150m in soft soils at shallow depth.
The machine has since completed about 20 per cent of the 150m underground pedestrian walkway which is estimated to be completed in late September. After that, the rectangular TBM will be moved to the Thomson-East Coast Line's Stevens interchange station for another 60m underpass.