DUBAI-BASED BMC Gulf is anticipating a surge in demand for tunnel liners from AGRU of Austria in the Gulf, given the numerous metro projects that are being launched in the region.
Sold under the brand name AgruFlex, the tunnel liners have proven themselves on several prominent projects worldwide, according to Fabian Beermann, division manager at BMC Gulf, which is the agent in the region for AGRU Kunststofftechnik, an international manufacturer of innovative plastic products such as piping systems, semi-finished products, concrete protective liners and geomembranes.
AgruFlex liners are made from very low density polyethylene (VLDPE) material. Especially designed for waterproofing of tunnels, these membranes are characterised by a high flexibility, excellent chemical resistance, and a white signal layer.
In comparison to PVC (polyvinyl chloride), the installed membrane is completely free from plasticisers, environment friendly in production and comfortable to install, says Beermann.
“Given that numerous tunnels will be built over the next few years in the Arabian Gulf as part of key metro projects such as those coming up in Makkah, Riyadh and Qatar, we consider this product interesting for the region,” he says. “The product is well established around the world and has been used on a number of projects like the tunnel at Niagara Falls in Canada and a traffic tunnel in Germany.”
Among the major such ongoing projects, AgruFlex has also been used for lining the Koralm Tunnel, a section of the 130-km Koralm railway project that is under construction in Austria under the Koralpe mountain range.
Elaborating on the project, Albert Lueghamer, technical manager of AGRU, says: “The new Koralm railway links the Austrian cities of Graz and Klagenfurt and is an important part of the Baltic-Adriatic Corridor, which connects the Baltic Sea with the Adriatic. The Koralm railway is one of the major transport infrastructure projects not only in Austria but in whole Europe. The new high-speed railway will reduce the travel time between Graz and Klagenfurt from the current three hours to one hour.
“Undoubtedly, the centrepiece of the project is the Koralm tunnel. With a length of 32.9 km, it will be one of the longest railway tunnels in the world. It consists of two parallel tunnels that are linked with crossways every 500 m. The construction of the tunnel is divided into three sections (from east to west): KAT1, KAT2 and KAT3.
“The 2.3-km KAT 1 section is located at the east entrance of the tunnel. This part of the tunnel was constructed using the new Austrian tunnel method (drill and blast). Construction started at the end of 2008. In order to protect the tunnel from ground water, approximately 132,000 sq m of AgruFlex tunnel liners were installed in 2012 and 2013. Additionally, 12,000 m of waterstop profiles were used.”
The KAT 1 was successfully completed in November 2013. Although parts of the railway will be opened earlier, the entire railway line is expected to be operational by 2023.
The geomembrane installed in the Koralm Tunnel fulfils the new Austrian Tunnel sealing Guideline – Österreichische Bautechnik Vereinigung – published 2012, a strict procedure which includes continuous testing, that ensures the high quality during production.
The excellent quality of this product is confirmed by external test reports, according to Lueghamer.
As a manufacturer of premium plastic products used for applications such as tunnels, sewer and irrigation channels, retention areas and secondary containments, AGRU impresses with its quality products that are specially designed for building and civil engineering and that are corrosion free, and prevent deposits, Lueghamer adds.
The company is represented in the region by BMC Gulf, which serves the regional markets with specialised engineering services and turnkey solutions for industrial and private projects.
It provides its clients and partners with professional engineering services right from the design stage to the handover of the project, in the fields of environmental engineering, piping systems, water management, concrete repair and plastic welding technology.