Teamwork Made the Dream Work; The untold stories behind the final TBM breakthrough for MRT2

For many of the tunnel crews working on the underground portion of the MRT Putrajaya Line project, the triumph of the final Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) breakthrough on 18 July 2020 at Ampang Park Station was truly bittersweet. While they shared the satisfaction and exhilaration of a job done exceptionally well, their celebrations were coloured by a twinge of sadness as it marked the completion of the grand adventure and unique experience that the mining works had provided. The Rise team caught-up with some of the Conlay Tunnel Team members which helped achieve the final TBM breakthrough and asked them to share some thoughts on their experiences up to this point.
“It has been a defining experience for everyone involved.”
Mohanaselvam Sanderan, 29
Assistant Tunnel Manager
I feel especially blessed to have been part of the Conlay Tunnel Team over the past 2 years, carving a path through both good times and tough times. From planning, assembling, operating, disassembling and finally finishing up with post-tunnelling works, the entire team be it plant or tunnel crews have, been supportive and played a vital role in the success story of the Conlay tunnel works.
Faced at the time with what seemed like a herculean task of launching 4 Variable Density (VD) TBMs within 6 months in a congested 153 meter long station box, it is with no small measure of pride and accomplishment that we are thrilled to have successfully completed all 4 tunnel drives from Conlay to Ampang Park Station (APPS) and TRX respectively.
The final breakthrough at APPS of TBM S774 was undeniably memorable, but I have countless precious memories of the journey that got us here; from pushing through the 180 meter length of Persiaran KLCC Station, operating the TBM throughout the Movement Control Order (MCO) with minimal manpower and finally passing underneath the twin tunnels of LRT Kelana Jaya Line with limited cover above us before breaking into APPS station. It has been a defining experience for everyone involved.
“Being part of a passionate team of people working towards a common goal has been a constant source of motivation”
Lim Huei Yee, 27
Senior Tunnel Engineer
Joining the MRT Putrajaya Line project as a Tunnel Engineer back in 2017, I was just a fresh graduate with limited knowledge and experience in tunnelling in particular. I was fortunate however to be matched up with helpful and supportive teammates who were willing to share knowledge and advice. Through their guidance and assistance, I learned how to control the supply sequence of rings to the TBM and to enable correct ring construction as well gained valuable experience in Quality, Safety, Health & Environmental compliance. Being part of a passionate team of people working towards a common goal has been a constant source of motivation for me.

Completing the final TBM breakthrough for Tunnel drive (TU4), was quite challenging for various factors. Prior to the breakthrough itself, thorough checking and testing was required with tunnel crews, mechanics and electricians all working in sync as a well-oiled unit to ensure success. Surveyors helped to confirm that the TBM was positioned correctly, while the tunnel team closely coordinated with the Ampang Park Station (APPS) team to ensure both the breakthrough and the subsequent retrieval would proceed smoothly. The experience from start to finish reinforced our shared belief that teamwork is key to success in tunnelling.

“SMART inspired me to dream of one day working in the tunnelling industry”
Mohamad Amin Bin Mohd Hashim, 29
Plant Engineer
Working with the MGKT team is in fact the culmination of a long-time goal of mine. Back in the day, the construction of the longest stormwater drainage tunnel in Southeast Asia (SMART), inspired me to dream of one day working in the tunnelling industry. I started out not knowing the first thing about building tunnels but have definitely learned a lot since completing the SL1M programme with Gamuda Bhd. and joining the Conlay Tunnel Team as one of the Plant Engineers.

As one of the earliest certified compressed air workers here in Conlay, my first compressed air dive in TBM S774, stands out as a cherished memory. My tunnel manager, Daniel Boylan, trusted and assigned me as team leader for the intervention works although I had yet to experience conditions within the excavation chamber. I’m proud to say that thanks to the steady stream of guidance via communication from the outside, I managed to lead the intervention team in achieving our objectives. Upon emerging and meeting Daniel again, he smiled proudly and said “This was how I was trained before.” It was a special moment that will stay with me forever.

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