Making its mark
A pioneer in the construction of tunnels and underground spaces across Europe, BeMo Tunnelling continues to deliver high quality solutions to a range of prestigious projects
Founded in Austria in 1964 BeMo Tunnelling GmbH (BeMo) is a specialist in the engineering and construction of all kinds of underground structures from new construction and refurbishment to reinstatement and reconstruction. With a team of around 530 staff, the company’s success translates into a current annual turnover of £140 million. “Based on a philosophy of steady technical development, the company engaged from the early days in the construction of tunnels,” begins Head of Division UK and Know How at BeMo, Leo Falkner. “Tunnelling is our business. BeMo has always been a leading influence in introducing the ‘New Austrian Tunnelling Method’ (NATM) to the international market. Through innovative solutions and alternative tender proposals for challenging projects we have continuously developed this method and thus were granted the right to bear the Austrian coat of arms in 1982 in recognition of our merits for the advancement, the promotion and further development of NATM. NATM is also known as Sprayed Concrete Lining (SCL), Sequential Excavation Method (SEM) or Shotcrete Tunnelling.”
Predominantly, the company serves clients within the public sectors of markets in Austria, Germany and the UK, but has also taken a consulting role in a number of contracts around the world. Serving these markets, the company has built up an extensive array of competencies in everything from the design and construction of tunnels and underground structures, through tunnel surveying and structural maintenance to mining and recently also special civil engineering offerings. “Our highly qualified and committed team of experts is known internationally for its broad scope of technical competence and innovative solutions for the design and delivery of complex and challenging tunnel works in soft ground and hard rock,” explains Leo.
Innovation sits at the heart of BeMo and this is evident in the pioneering role it played introducing NATM, a method that is now used in many major tunnelling projects around the globe. Amongst other innovations, the following have been developed by BeMo and its long-term partner in the UK, Morgan Sindall (MS): In 1994 BeMo together with MS delivered the first permanent shotcrete tunnel lining in London with its CombiShell™ system. Another system, LaserShell™ has been developed by BeMo and MS to improve both the safety and quality of underground works using sprayed concrete. The profile of both the excavation and spraying operations is controlled using an innovative real time survey system known as TunnelBeamer™. LaserShell™ methodology employs an inclined face excavation for increased stability and improved safety for tunnel workers in London clay. This was a new, innovative single-shell shotcrete tunnelling method that eliminated the need for girders or steel reinforcement bars, with steel-fibre reinforced, high-quality shotcrete. In 2001 BeMo and MS deployed LaserShell™ at Terminal Five Heathrow Airport. Continuing the trend for driving innovation into the UK construction market, in 2014 a BeMo joint venture comprising of Balfour Beatty, Morgan Sindall and VINCI successfully completed the first uphill tunnel excavation through London clay at a 30 degree angle during the Whitechapel and London Liverpool Station phases of Crossrail.
Due for completion in 2018, BeMo is currently undergoing a five year 180 million euro project to excavate eight kilometres of tunnel on the A9 Pyhrn Autobahn in Austria. In a joint venture for the ASFINAG (Autobahnen- und Schnellstraßen-Finanzierungs- Aktiengesellschaft), the company is constructing a second set of tubes for the Klaus, Traunfried,Spering and Falkenstein tunnels. “These works consist of the construction of the tunnels and creation of additional escape routes and emergency ways, all whilst traffic continues to move through the existing tunnels,” outlines Leo. “This is a challenging project in a couple of aspects. Firstly, it is a very tight construction programme with difficult access to some of the tunnel portals, which we have overcome with seven parallel drives into the four tunnels. Secondly, we have had to implement a lot of safety procedures and monitoring programmes for the construction of cross-passages between the old and new tunnels whilst they remain operational for traffic. During this part of the project we stopped the traffic temporarily for each round of blasting depending on the distance to the existing tunnel.”
Other ongoing projects for BeMo include the Metro Tunnel Kaiserstrasse in Karlsruhe, Germany, which has just seen the TBM breakthrough after more than two kilometres slurry drive underneath inner-city areas, which is due to open in 2017; and the Bad Cannstatt tunnels in the Stuttgart 21 programme. With a growing portfolio of high profile projects and a successful historic reputation behind it, BeMo is well positioned to take advantage of the current market conditions. “Fierce price competition on the continent is a challenge at present but there is enough work available and our continued approach to innovation will be key to us remaining successful,” says Leo. “This will be further enhanced as we move forward focusing on the safe delivery of ongoing projects on time and on budget with excellent quality. With this in mind we will be focusing on winning contracts throughout the Europe particularly with HS2 and London Underground station upgrades on the horizon over the coming years.”
This dedication to safe, innovative and high quality project delivery has been the central driving factor to BeMo’s present success, and a continuation of this stands the company in good stead as it looks ahead. “Thanks to our professionalism, together with the high quality of our services, we are a preferred contractor for partners and clients alike and we hope to see this continue well into the future,” concludes Leo.
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